I am en route to Costa Rica today to take a two week long course on beetle systematics and taxonomy through the Organization for Tropical Studies. We’ll be working out of La Selva biological station for the bulk of the time, with a brief trip to Veragua Rainforest to do a rapid assessment of beetle diversity there. Beetles are a pretty far cry from my dissertation research on clownfishes. But, they are a rich system in which to study the evolution of ecological specialization, and I am investigating the possibility of incorporating them into my postdoctoral research.
The only other time I’ve been to the neotropics was for a quick visit to El Salvador for my brother’s wedding, so I am beyond excited to really spend some time immersed in the rainforest! The northern extent of many neotropical species’ ranges lies around Costa Rica, making it a very interesting place. Aside from the amazing beetles, some of the organisms I am most looking forward to seeing are poison dart frogs, eyelash vipers, honeycreepers, Chlorophonias, Euglossine orchid bees, and the many orchid species.