T-24 hours til I’m back in the tropics!

Tomorrow, I take off for the OTS course in Tropical Plant Systematics!

The course will be based in San Jose, Costa Rica, with several modules in each of the sites listed in the map below:

The course will include a module each in a mid-elevation rainforest (Las Cruces), a high-elevation forest (Cuericí), a seasonally dry forest (Palo Verde), a lowland rainforest (La Selva), and the herbarium at the Universidad de Costa Rica.

I’ve never had a botany course so far, and definitely not a tropical plant identification course, so I am very much looking forward to a this immersion into the world of plant systematics! The instructors have listed the following objectives for the course:

• identify the main families and genera of tropical Angiosperms, ferns, and lycophytes
• explain the overall patterns of Angiosperm, fern, and lycophyte phylogeny
• explain the basics of phylogenetic theory
• run some commonly used computer programs for cladistic analyses
• interpret and describe vegetative, floral, inflorescence, and fruit structures
• construct dichotomous keys and identify plants with them
• write formal descriptions of plants
• collect and preserve various kinds of plants
• apply the principles of botanical nomenclature
• recognize the major tropical vegetation types found in Costa Rica and their characteristic plants
• use a common floristic inventory method (the 0.1 ha transect)

I’ll try to post updates on how the course is progressing here! I will also post any notes I take digitally online.

And finally, I should thank the University of Maryland CMNS Deans Office, BiSi office, BEES office, and the Kraft lab for financing my attendance. This course will certainly be indispensable for me, and I’m really grateful to be able to go to it early in my education 🙂