Friday, February 8, 2008

Major progress, just in time

Sorry that it's been so long since my last post, believe it or not, I've been getting lots of work done. So, the Forestry Service came to my rescue, and this week I was able to do lots of good collecting, including some populations that are pretty far off the beaten track. All in all, I've been able to sample several populations of all three Coffea species here in Mauritius. But the big payoff came today when I went to a locality known as Mt. Brise in the East that is known to have Coffea myrtifolia. It's really just a big hill in the middle of sugar cane fields. But to my amazement, the slopes and top of this hill are absolutely covered in C. myrtifolia, AND (this is the deal-sealer) the population was in full flower! This was exactly what I was hoping for on this trip, to get one good flowering population of Coffea sampled. So, I spent about 4 hours collecting styles and preserving them in RNALater, as well as collecting a DNA voucher for each individual sampled. This was slow, tedious work with a tweezer in one hand, and an open vial of RNALater in the other. The whole process was made more difficult because it was absolutely still in that forest, and the mosquitoes were absolutely horrendous. Of course, I am out of DEET because much of it leaked out in my bag one day and dissolved some plastic on the back of the lab GPS (don't worry, the damage is only cosmetic, it is still in perfect working order). My arms and back were covered in them, and I could feel myself getting bitten constantly, but I was too excited about the flowers to flail about (my standard strategy), so I just took it. Although, I think I've developed an immunity to the mosquito toxins because the bites are pretty small and don't itch much.
Anyway, this last day in the field (perhaps not last, I may try to go out tomorrow), has really made the Mauritius leg of the trip an all out success. Things didn't go perfectly, but they went well enough. I fly to London on Monday, and I will be at Kew working win Aaron Davis for one day before heading back to Durham (via Charlotte). I'm really looking forward to being home.


Boom said...

Well, what's going on's been months since you've posted. Inquiring minds want to know if you are going to Summer Solstice.

Boom said...

Gee, you've been posting so often I can hardly keep up with all of your news.