3/9 Guanica

march 2016 130

The Dry Forest

During our group discussion this morning, we shared the sketches and watercolor paintings we made on Tuesday.  I was happy with what I had for the time we were given to work, but I still need to practice to get my sketches and paintings to look really good.  Overall, I’m glad that the focus of this experience is to work with the mediums of our choice to express ourselves and to represent what we are observing without having the pressure to make something perfect.  Having that is truly freeing, and art-making is so much more fun that way.

We also talked about what communication is, the different forms it can take, and why it’s important in the animal and the human world. We then discussed how art is a form of communication and that animal communication principles can be applied to art.  This in turn helps us understand how biologically relevant art is to us as a species, which I had never really thought about before.  One of the reasons I love art (and music, dance, performance, etc) so much is that it is a universal form of language; art connects us and helps us communicate, and I think it’s interesting that art is biologically relevant to our species in the form of communication.

After almost a 4 hour drive (we made a couple stops and there was a lot of traffic), we made it to Guanica, the dry forest/desert habitat.  It was much different from the rainforest – dry, brown, hot, and many different species of plants and animals.  I saw quite a few small butterflies, snails on the branches of small trees and shrubs, and a few diurnal lizards.  We split into groups of two and explored on our own for a bit, and then we constructed more bioart creations.  My partner and I really liked the dead agave leaves we were finding, and we had fun making an installation with the dead leaves, shell pieces, old bottles, rusty cans, and some glass pieces that we collected.

Searching for scorpions and geckos after sundown was my favorite part of the night.  To find the scorpions, we shone a UV light around the pathway as well as around the rocks and roots that were away from the path.  When we saw a glowing green organism, we knew we found a scorpion!  Scientists don’t really know why they fluoresce under UV light, or why some scorpions fluoresce different colors and intensities.  But once we found one, we used our tweezers to gently grab them by the tail and then placed them in our buckets so we could observe them.  The geckos were much harder to find, but we lucked out a few times.  They were adorable!  I also had the pleasure of seeing a house gecko after we went home for the night.  Saul brought it inside for us to see, and its features reminded me a lot of Rhacodactylus cilatus (Crested Gecko), which I get to see all the time back at home in BG. 🙂

Notes, Observations of life and habitat

  • desert habitat, semi-arid trees
  • dramatically less green; more brown, no moss on trees
  • found lots of broken, aged conch shells
  • found a lot of random trash – aluminum and tin cans, broken bottles, glass shards, plastic pieces
  • leaves are thick and wax-coated, hold in moisture
  • lizards – diurnal, gray colors, very fast, long tails and toes
  • didn’t smell rich like the rainforest from yesterday
  • very rough rocks and plants

Animal species

  • Anolis cristatelus – grey anole, common throughout the island
  • Sphaerodactylus nicholsi – tiny, brown, diurnal
  • Phyllodactylus wirshingii – striped tail, split toe pads
  • Hemidactylus mabouia – House Gecko
  • Sphaerodactylus roosvelti – grey gecko with stripes, only females have the stripes, nocturnal
  • Iguana – roadkill
  • Turkey Vultures
  • saw 1 brown bird
  • Various Lepidoptera:
    • saw yellow butterfly, white butterflies, brown butterfly, orange fritillary-type butterfly
    • large white moth
    • yellow and brown moth
    • yellow moth with jagged wings
  • Antlion
  • June beetles
  • Millipede
  • Tree Snails – found lots of them on branches
  • Scorpions at night

Plant species

  • Cacti – range of heights, tall, short, spines
  • Agave plants – very cool, spines on ends of leaves
  • yellow flowers, tiny purple flowers