Time flies, especially when you’re learning something new. In the case of the ecology module it was more likely to be mosquitoes or bees than flies, but either way we’re all a little shocked that we’re a fifth of the way through the course. Two weeks in the Turkana Basin gone in a flurry of insect collection and seed counting. The class, led by Dr. Dino Martins, covered the full range of ecological questions from the massive, nearly extinct white rhinos by Lake Nakuru to the miniscule malaria vector, the Anopheles mosquito, found all over the world.
The week ended with an exam on Turkana Basin ecology (the class managed the best grades ever recorded for the exam) and presentations of their independent research projects.
Where an ecology course back in the States might require a synoptic paper or a manuscript critique, ready access to the complicated, and largely unknown Turkana ecosystem provided fodder for individualized questions that were broken down into three areas: Vegetation, Vectors, and Freshwater Systems. Because each student worked on novel research, here’s a quick run-down of what they found in their time roving the compound, staring through microscopes, splashing through the river, and roasting in the sun. All in the name of science.
Bailey and John teamed up to study the scorpions that share TBI with us. The stinging arachnids, members of the genus Parabuthus, are nocturnal which would normally make studying their preferences for different vegetation and proximity to man-made structures tough to scrutinize. However, the stinging arthropods glow neon yellow under ultraviolet light.