It’s been a very long time, since I wrote my last post…but that’s because not much has happened (research-wise) since I left Puerto Rico at the end of March.
Just a short recap, for those of you who don’t have time to read my older posts. This January, I set out to survey bees in coffee plantations, and also compare their pollination services in shade and sun coffee plantations. The pollination service assessment was done by hand-pollinating some branches, and leaving others to be naturally pollinated by the environment (bees, wind, other insects and animals). If the naturally pollinated flowers yield the same quantity/quality of fruits as the hand-pollinated flowers (which have received all the pollen they need), then I can say that the plants are not pollen-limited (lacking pollen). If the naturally pollinated flowers have lower fruit quantity/quality, then they may in fact be pollen-limited.
So, now is the time I can go back to actually count the number of fruits on both naturally and hand-pollinated branches to finish this experiment. [Side note: Coffee harvest starts in August, and can last until December.] Last week, I went back to check on things, and make sure I was collecting all the information I needed, and I came back feeling really frustrated. A good number of the trees we pollinated were cut down, a good number of the branches we pollinated were pruned, and some of the fruits were being destroyed by other natural causes.
Since I can’t assess fruit quality from fruits that are dead, I was feeling really down that half of my experiment was going to go down the drain. But, after talking to one of my co-advisors about this, she reassured me that this is still data, and still interesting, and this is just what happens in nature!
So, I’m looking on the bright side of things, and keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll have more ‘live’ beans to harvest for the quality assessment part of my study. I’m going back down in October to see the progress…hopefully I’ll have better news to share then!
Also, for you Spanish-readers out there, here’s an article that the newspaper in Puerto Rico published about my research!
Oh and Happy Fall everyone!