I'm writing this from a field station on the coast of Panama. Darkness is falling over a coral lagoon and the fireflies are beginning to drift through the grass. This has been my second field trip of the PhD, with the support of the National Geographic Society and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), and after three months it's now drawing to an end. Pieter and I have encountered so many amazing things that it's hard to know where to start! Being here, it has been impossible to stop ogling at all the wonders everywhere you look - from capuchin monkeys flinging themselves through the branches to the iridescent flashes of morpho butterflies skitting through the forest. We've even stumbled upon the overgrown relics of Second World War bunkers smothered under strangler figs in the rainforest. Panama is a riot of diversity.
Every time I come back to the tropics, I fall in love with it all over again. As a bit of a wild Darwinian, it's a bit like squatting briefly in the temple of natural selection: here in tropics, there are 'endless forms most beautiful' in the most stupendous, magnificent, awesome sense possible. Can't wait to get back here!
Adventures of a
Dr Patrick Kennedy
Postdoc in zoology at the University of Bristol