Science Diary: Caterpillars – Many Types

music; ambience rain, rainforest

“It’s a spectacular place. If you like biology you have to come to a place like this.”

One of the reasons you’d come to the lowland rainforest of Costa Rica is to experience the incredibly diverse mix of plants and animals. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside.

“Every single day you’ll see something new. So right now it’s raining, which it does especially this time of year. The vegetation is almost impossible to describe, because it’s so varied. It’s really an assault on the senses.”

Lee Dyer and a team of Earthwatch volunteers are in Costa Rica at the Tirimbina Rainforest Center to study some of the world’s most ubiquitous creatures caterpillars.

“They’re beautiful organisms. The diversity of forms and colors and types of caterpillars never ceases to amaze me. I see a new one every field season – at least one. There are right now about 170,000 described species of moths and butterflies, which the immature stages are called caterpillars. So they’re extremely diverse, and they interact with flies and wasps, which attack them. So, if you want to understand diversity, which really is one of the greatest challenges in science today is understanding what causes diversity and what are the consequences of our great loss of diversity that’s occurring right now. So since caterpillars and the wasps and flies and the other organisms that they interact with, make up such a large portion of the diversity that’s out there, they’re an important organism to study. In terms of ecology, for most terrestrial ecosystems, they are the major thing out there that’s eating plants.”

We’ll hear more on Lee Dyer’s work with caterpillars in future programs.
Our latest project is a competition for third to sixth graders. Check out kidsciencechallenge.com.

Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Science Diary: Caterpillars - Many Types

In Costa Rica's rainforest, the diversity of caterpillars rivals the diversity of the plants they consume.
Air Date:07/06/2011
Scientist:
Transcript:

music; ambience rain, rainforest

"It's a spectacular place. If you like biology you have to come to a place like this."

One of the reasons you'd come to the lowland rainforest of Costa Rica is to experience the incredibly diverse mix of plants and animals. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside.

"Every single day you'll see something new. So right now it's raining, which it does especially this time of year. The vegetation is almost impossible to describe, because it's so varied. It's really an assault on the senses."

Lee Dyer and a team of Earthwatch volunteers are in Costa Rica at the Tirimbina Rainforest Center to study some of the world's most ubiquitous creatures caterpillars.

"They're beautiful organisms. The diversity of forms and colors and types of caterpillars never ceases to amaze me. I see a new one every field season - at least one. There are right now about 170,000 described species of moths and butterflies, which the immature stages are called caterpillars. So they're extremely diverse, and they interact with flies and wasps, which attack them. So, if you want to understand diversity, which really is one of the greatest challenges in science today is understanding what causes diversity and what are the consequences of our great loss of diversity that's occurring right now. So since caterpillars and the wasps and flies and the other organisms that they interact with, make up such a large portion of the diversity that's out there, they're an important organism to study. In terms of ecology, for most terrestrial ecosystems, they are the major thing out there that's eating plants."

We'll hear more on Lee Dyer's work with caterpillars in future programs.
Our latest project is a competition for third to sixth graders. Check out kidsciencechallenge.com.

Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.