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Head, Thorax, Abdomen, Six Legs? Must Be an Insect!


A Dos Ríos student looks at an insect through a microscope. Photo by Melissa Espinoza.

Earlier this year, the first BioAlfa project in the Costa Rica school system was introduced to the Liceo Dos Ríos, located directly on the rain forest edge of Área de Conservación Guanacaste. The BioAlfa project aims to DNA barcode all multicellular species in ACG and, eventually, all of Costa Rica. This project, with the support of the Ministries of Education (MEP) and Environment and Energy (MINAE), involved placing three Malaise traps near the school grounds. Students are in charge of collecting the insects from the traps; insects from two of the traps are sent to be sequenced at the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics at the University of Guelph, Canada. The insects from the third trap are reserved for the students, so they can directly learn about the life history and taxonomy of the insects that live in their rain forest backyard. This week, students from Dos Ríos came to ACG for an insect workshop to work with GDFCF BioAlfa scientists, ACG’s Programa de Educación Biológica (PEB) educators, as well as Dr. Jenny Philips and M.Sc. Roberto Fernández, GDFCF Science Advisors, and learn about the morphology of insects and how to separate them into groups (at the order level). Drs. Dan Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs were also on hand to speak with the students about the overall BioAlfa project. The students were able to use PEB microscopes to get an intimate look at the insects, listen to informative sessions from experts on various orders, and even had time to take a field trip to the historical Casona monument. We are grateful for funding from the Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund, the Wege Foundation, the Donald Comb Legacy Fund, and private individuals, who made this workshop possible.

Dan Janzen speaks to the students about BioAlfa. Photo by Melissa Espinoza.

A specimen under the microscope. Photo by Melissa Espinoza.

Roberto Fernández works with a student at the workshop. Photo by Melissa Espinoza.
Bernardo Espinoza talks to the students about the order Lepidoptera. Photo by Melissa Espinoza.