The Colorado Desert in Joshua Tree National Park looked extremely patchy with respect to plant species distributions. There were large areas clearly dominated by a single species, such as Ocotillo and Cholla. Further, like other desert plants, the plants appeared to be distributed uniformly within patches.
Here’s a beautiful example of a dense patch of Cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii).
Beyond the Ocotillo wash and patch, there were a few extremely spiny plants along the road in Joshua Tree National Park that caught my eye. I stopped to photograph this one, just before coming to the Cholla Garden, which, at the time, I wasn’t aware of.
Teddy-bear Cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii) is anything but friendly. I received a few barbed spines in my finger as I explored the cactus’ branching and green stem.
The diverse Piper genus (Piperaceae) is used as a model system for a variety of ecological studies, including work done by Dyer at La Selva on tritrophic interactions (i.e., plant [Piper] – caterpillar – parasitoid). It’s also economically important – we grind the dried fruit or seed to produce pepper.
Here is a flower spike of a common species in Cahuita –I have no clue which – and a spider with stabilimentum that was often present with patches of Piper.
This Polychrotid is a non-native to Costa Rica but is extremely common in parts of the Caribbean coast. It’s native to various Caribbean islands, such as Puerto Rico and Hispanola, and this one was caught outside Cahuita. The males not only develop a large, colorful dewlap, but also a crested tail, giving it the species epithet cristatellus. It’s fairly large and relatively distinctive in shape, similar to Norops capito.
I’ve accumulated a few photographs of caterpillars and pupa in my ‘to publish’ folder for Montegraphia, so I’m putting them up now. They’re not the greatest works, but they were all cool finds in the field. The pupa was attached to the wall of the field station in San Ramon – there are most likely several photos floating around the Internet of this pupa given that it was pointed out to the course while at the station last winter.
The green caterpillar was one of a few on the hiking path in Zaleski State Forest. It was peculiar the number of caterpillars we encountered, presumably searching for a good, safe place to pupate.
The yellow caterpillar was common in Palo Verde this summer, and would inevitably be crawling down my shirt after walking through some brush. The yellow hairs cause a rash, as shown on Mahmood’s arm, and were quite bothersome when combined with the heat, humidity and mosquitoes….
Perhaps I’ll be able to speculate on identifications after I’ve taught that section in Entomology this semester…