The Epilogue, A Comparison

I had somebody else who I was with take all my pics so I’m working on that. They are great pics though so I’d love it if you saw them, even if it doesn’t add to my grade.

I took about five days out of Spring Break and went to Colombia, el país. It was very beautiful and it was a wonder being there and despite being in the city I was able to go to many places brimming with nature and I was lucky enough to go to the park for ecotourism at the top of one of the mountains surrounding the city I was staying in, Medellín. It was called Parque Arví and I was amazed just trying to analyze the change in forest composition as I was riding the cable up the mountain. It was noted that the park has a focus on biodiversity and looking at it I saw a huge swath of rain forest brimming with mystery so I was excited to start my temporary phenology site there.

I was able to receive some helpful facts that I took a picture of but we’ll see if I can get those in on time. What I took into account, though, when I first made distinctions between the two sites was just the obvious difference in classification. I very easily noted that the soil there was rich in clay, to the point that the sides off the road were red in clay and that the whole city was built with bricks made with the red clay and Medellín isn’t a small city, with 2.5 million people plus. This added on to the fact that we were in the tropics, on top of the mountain meant that the site got a lot of precipitation and was able to hold onto that precipitation because of the soil. I also didn’t hope for too many similarities between my two sites because my temporary site was by all means part of a tropical rain forest, whereas my site here in Burlington is a field in an area dominated by temperate deciduous forests. But I did find some similarities.

The high precipitation I do believe mimics my original site to a degree. We here in New England do receive a heavy dose of precipitation and because it was on top of the mountain the temperature at the time mimicked what we might experience in the spring.

But that’s where the similarities ceased to be apparent. The soil type at my site in Burlington is, as we all know, characterized by glacial till and sandy, rocky soil owed to glacial lake Vermont. This means that the hydrology of both sites are vastly different. Even if at certain times the sites experience similar amounts of precipitation the two sites experience that precipitation differently. And this is quite obvious when looking at the plants there. A lot of the plants that I looked at had waxy leaves which I attribute to a desire on the plants end to conserve water. I at first thought that that couldn’t be the case considering the high precipitation experienced but then I realized that there is a dry season as well and when the rain isn’t pouring down multiple times a week then the little bit of water that falls might have a hard time permeating throughout the dense clay soil. This must have led to plants adapting to hold on to water when they get it so that they manage through the variety in seasonal precipitation. The plants at my site don’t seem to really have this problem as much. They have a different set of problems.

Looking at the poverty grass on my site I think, “damn I’m glad I’m not farming here.” That’s for a couple of reasons; firstly the growing season is short, secondly there’s a lot of rock in the soil getting in the way and thirdly the soil nutrients aren’t super high. The poverty grass competes exceedingly well on sites where there aren’t enough nutrients to support other species. This seems to be vastly different compared to the rain forest of Colombia, which I believe has a very fast nutrient flow with plenty going into the soil and immediately being extracted out by the surrounding vegetation. In addition this is happening all year round in Colombia, there’s no stop to this process really because it’s “the city of eternal spring” and there isn’t a winter like ours where everything has to develop a strategy to survive and propagate next year. The vegetation doesn’t haven’t to worry about frost or ice so they can just keep growing as long as they have nutrients.

And the wildlife is different as well. I didn’t see any cottontail rabbit tracks which are a common sight at my site in Burlington. I only heard a rustle from the brush and took note of a couple of insects that resided there, including spiders and what looked kind of like a yellow lady bug at the time.

Al final it was a wild time trying to analyze such a different place. I saw a host of plants that were so foreign to me and I could scarcely remember them all.

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