St. Louis Zoo and Insectarium

After the field project presentations and clean-up the field equipments in the lab, all the students decided to go to St. Louis Zoo (free, by the way) to pay Mr. Ed Spevak and the insectarium a visit.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)
Before heading back to the apartment to put my stuff away first, I came across this Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) on the sidewalk in the drizzling rain.  I gently picked it up and put it on a tree where it has more shelter.  What a beauty!

We were at the zoo with only about 1.5 hours to spare before closing, so we only had time to visit the insectarium.


Fast-forwarding the days

After the somewhat relaxing day-off on Saturday, the remainder of the week became incredibly busy in carrying out our field projects and staying late in labs to get results.


Another student's project - use staining techniques to stain scent glands on different parts of flowers, as well as using SEM to look at the structural differences between the parts.


Being a tourist in St. Louis

A cloudy day today.  Good enough to go outside and explore downtown St. Louis with most of the group.

Walking towards the Gateway Arch.

WOW!  It's more impressive than this photo looks.


Bees and birds and a wedding

Yesterday (20th), we learned about pollinator foraging behaviours and the techniques they used when visiting different type of flowers and inflorescence in order to maximize their gain and minimize the loss.  We also began brainstorming about our field projects, and another student and I were thinking of teaming up to study what are the effects of ants on stigma receptivity and pollen germination.

This morning was a lecture on abiotic pollination - wind and water.  In the afternoon, we were off to the botanical garden to bag some flowers and start on our project.

Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica) robbing nectar
Carpenter bee stealing nectar from the columbines.


Last few on Earth - Umbrella dracaena

Today is day four of the field course, and we learned about floral rewards to the pollinators, including nectar, pollen, resins, oils, gums, perfumes, floral and ovarian tissue, prey, sex, and shelter.

For this course, we had to conduct a small project related to pollination biology.  So in the afternoon, we were wondering around MBG trying to find topics and plants that interest us.

Inside the Climatron, we came across this precious Dracaena umbraculifera - only 16 individuals left on Earth and none left in the wild.  I am not sure if I should be happy to see it still surviving in here or sad to hear that it is one of the 16 left in this world.



Wandering around MBG

We learned the different types of floral advertisements that attract pollinators, ranging from vision, olfactory, nectar, texture, chemosensory, thermosensory, and timing.

In the afternoon, we were asked to collect flowers (given permissions) from the botanical garden and learn some techniques back in the lab.

I took some photos as I go along collecting flowers that interest me - mostly small or dioecious flowers, since my project focuses on Shepherdia canadensis.

Green Frog (Rana clamitans)
Green Frog


Shaw Nature Reserve

In the morning we learned about the botanical and floral diversity in pollination biology. For example, the different mating and breeding systems for plants, as well as the history of categorizing flower types to better associate the pollinators and the appropriate pollinator syndrome.

Unknown Syrphid (Family Syrphidae)
Photographed a Syrphid during a break.

Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis)

In the afternoon, we headed to a different part of Missouri Botanical Garden outside the city. It is called Shaw Nature Reserve.


Visiting Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG)

In the morning, we had a quick introduction of all the participants - mostly graduate students from US (two from UK), two scientists from China, a apiary owner, etc, we went straight to learning about the zoological diversity of pollinators - ranging from springtails to giraffes!

 In the afternoon, we were given a quick tour of the Missouri Botanical Garden - the second largest botanical garden in the world (after Royal Botanic Gardens in UK).


Arriving at St. Louis & Visiting Cahokia

After a long drive yesterday, we were only about four hours away from St. Louis by nighttime.  We decided to spent a night in Pontiac, Illinois.  Nothing too impressive about the city from our hotel close to the highway.

Agriculture lands next to the hotel.

Holiday Inn.


Crossing over to USA

My labmate and I spent a night in Guelph yesterday.  This morning, we met up with fellow students and instructor at the university to begin our road trip to St. Louis, Missouri.

Crossing the border at Sarnia.  My first time to US in at least a decade.  Surprisingly, the wait time was very short (~30 minutes).

Land of USA.


Quick post about past week - mostly pollinators

Long story short, I am heading to St. Louis this weekend to participate in a pollination field course in Missouri Botanical Garden. Before I leave, I had many many things to do. Most of the more important tasks are done now, and now onto posting photos and blog writing about what I did since last Friday.


I biked to Jackson Park hoping it would be nice and pretty by now.

Unfortunately not. The lake/pond is still really low and the trees are just producing buds.


One of the more fulfilling wildlife-watching days this year

It took me awhile to realize that today is a holiday and that the school semester had ended two days ago. It sure is easy to lose track of days when you focus on something 24/7.

Saw a male Goldfinch on my way to school.


Exploring Lady Eaton Drumlin

Passing by the nest again this morning. I brought my DSLR but no bird was on the nest.


Biked to school on Monday

On the way to school this morning, I saw a large bird carrying sticks to this platform. I think it is a Great Blue Heron, but I only had my small camera to take this picture. [Edit: I was mistaken. This is an Osprey nest.] I will look forward to see the development whenever I bike past this nest now.

Male Goldfinch singing.

The moon when I was biking home. Full moon in four more days.

The weather has been decent enough for the midges (Family Chironomidae) to come out now. This is a male with the plumose (feather-like) antennae.

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