Outside and in

This is how the inside of our field station accommodations look. Today we collected seventeen leaf and branch samples from ten tree species, in order to make quantitative measurements of their functional diversity – for example, how dense is the wood, or how much carbon is allocated to the leaves? We are testing several hypotheses for how this diversity changes across the planet – Puerto Rico is a small part of a much bigger picture.

What this means, in practice, is that we go out to the forest with thirty-foot long pruning poles and attempt to cut branches out of the sky – then bring our branches indoors for a marathon session of measurements. Our kitchen fills up with bundles of plant material – what was outside comes inside. This is how we transform a forest into numbers!

There is much to appreciate about outside, too. Here are two views of the rainforest from outside our front door.

A late-afternoon rainbow, seen after a heavy downpour.

And an Anolis, presenting its dewlap in a territorial display. This one has an affinity for the wall above our door! Herpetological diversity is very high in the Caribbean, for whatever reason. It makes for a welcome distraction when one has spent too many hours in the company of plants!

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