13 May 2024

Exploring the Colors of the Tropical Forest: A Scientist's Journey

Written by: Jorge Rivera Flores

Come join me on an adventure deep into the heart of the tropical forest, where each expedition offers glimpses of nature's wonders.

Working at the Sabana Research Station in Luquillo, Puerto Rico, I have the privilege of witnessing the beauty of plants, animals, and fungi while conducting vital research.

In this blog post, I'll share the diverse array of flora and fauna I encounter during my fieldwork. From vibrant flowers to mushrooms, each species contributes to the complex web of life within the forest ecosystem. Through research, we aim to understand and protect this rich biodiversity for future generations.

While my primary role involves data collection, every journey into the forest is an opportunity for discovery. Join me as I recount memorable moments, such as stumbling upon rare plant species or listening to the melodious songs of the coqui frog. These experiences highlight the magic of the forest and inspire a sense of wonder and appreciation for nature.

The thing that impresses me more is the different colors you get to see during every opportunity you get inside the forest, from solid green ferns to bright red on a plant. But for sure, the most impressive sight is the fungi of different sizes, colors, textures, and forms. Imagine fungi from woody to puffy cloudy textures, from solid white to bright sky blue colors, and from the size of a pencil tip to the size of a medium-sized pizza.

Fauna brings a whole different level of excitement because you get to see species of animals that you don't see often outside the forest although there's the daily encounter with our invasive mongousse that feels more weird if you don't see one. I have encountered multiple coqui species inside our rain collectors, walking stick insects crawling up my backpack, colorful butterflies, and an array of birds, from woodpeckers to my favorite little bird, the San Pedrito (Todus mexicanus).

Our research extends beyond data collection to inform conservation and management strategies. By studying the interactions between plants, animals, and their environment, we gain insights into ecosystem dynamics and resilience. Through our findings, we hope to influence policy decisions and empower communities to participate in sustainable forest management practices.

As I conclude this journey through the tropical forest, I invite you to marvel at the beauty and complexity of nature. Whether you're a fellow scientist, a nature enthusiast, or simply someone who enjoys exploring the outdoors, there's endless fascination to be found in Puerto Rico's forests. Together, let's continue to cherish and protect these invaluable ecosystems for generations to come.

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