Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tropical Nature

'Tropical Nature, Life and Death in the Rain Forests of Central and South America,' is written exactly as the title describes it. All 218 pages are dedicated to these rain forests scientifically and emotionally. The daily experiences recorded within this book details the importance of the rain forests relation to human kind and to the animals residing in them.

To put this into perspective, think of a tree within a rain forest, it can be any tropical tree common to this geographical area. Now think about the kind of leaves that grow off of this tree and give shelter to an insect or even a mammal or reptile/amphibian. This book details the cycle of life very descriptively, in the sense that it allows the reader to both learn the science behind the complexities of Nature and try to involve emotionally, a greater understanding for why these rain forests have to be protected.

The authors do not continually try to sadden their audience with stories of deforestation, they do include a bit of humor. Adrian Forsyth and Ken Miyata are the authors of, 'Tropical Nature,' and they include in the later section of their book a story about a Biologist friend of theirs. His name is Jerry. He had come back to the United States from Costa Rica without knowing that he was harboring a fugitive on top of his head. This fugitive got into the United States unannounced and was eating and breeding within the layer of skin on Jerry's skull. The name of the creature was called a botfly. Botflies commonly burrow into the flesh of mammals and are notoriously difficult to pull out. Fortunately for Jerry, a little time and patience and he got that little bug problem controlled.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sloths and their Business - Travel Writing Class '11

Sloths are undeniably cute rain forest creatures. It would be difficult for me to find another person that would argue over their cuteness. These long limb beauties with a contagious little grin are common to Central and South America. Jack Ewing experiences these creatures through his book, 'Monkeys are Made of Chocolate.'

Jack has regularly taken tour groups out onto his converted plantation/wildlife refuge to spot not only the Three-toed Sloth but other indigenous species as well. The Three-toed Sloth primarily eats the rain forest leaves as it ascends slowly up with its long claws. Sloths do much of their activities among the trees but they do their 'business' on the ground.

What is interesting about the Sloths aversion to the rain forest ground, is quite frankly, the presence of a wide variety of predators, such as large cats, namely the Jaguar being the most prominent enemy of the Three toed Sloth. That is why this observation is even stranger. Jack Ewing, the author, has always observed the Sloths on his property doing their business on the ground and as quickly as possible. However, the Sloth he observed on one of his tours was doing its business whilst still up in the tree. For a Biologist, this was amazing, for the average person, they probably did not write home about it.

This Sloth was either extremely smart by doing his business in the tree or extremely lazy and just did not want to go through the trouble of slowly climbing to the rain forest floor. Either way, if I ever see a Sloth anywhere in the trees of Costa Rica, I will try to remember to watch myself, just in case he decides he does not feel like crawling down to get to business!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tree Frog Conservation

Amphibian populations in many parts of the world have been declining. In general habitat loss is the biggest negative impact on species diversity. Recently infection from a chytrid fungus has been linked to killing amphibians. For more information see

For an example of Conservation efforts in Costa Rica see

Pineapple plantations

Here is an interesting video describing some social and environmental impacts of pineapple plantations in Costa Rica.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Another trip in the near future

Greetings all.  Soon our group of intrepid CC explorers will be off for Costa Rica, on an unusual December trip.  We leave December 26, and return January 3, perhaps with suntans, though I'm not quite sure of December weather down there.  (Those rainforests need, well, a lot of rain...).

So, in any case, it's time for me to start hassling all those folks who didn't know they need to blog.  We'll start posting information, exciting local facts, strange youtube videos (Beth says she already has some film clip to post??), and travelers' info.

Cheryl H. asked about time zones and jet lag, so here's some pleasant news:
(Artfully borrowed from )

This lets us know that Costa Rica is on Central Time.  So flying there and back will make for a long day, but there is no time difference at all.

Some tech news:  Cougarmail is now functionally gmail, so Columbia College folks should be able to follow us, and comment, using their regular college accounts.  Some of you try this out, and make sure it works!

later, bob
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