We have finished the first leg of our trip! After Wilson Promontory, we headed north through Victoria, collecting ferns and flies along the way. Mostly we worked the edges of forests, particularly where controlled burnings had taken place or through power line rights of ways. Our goal was to collect enough material for population genetic analyses of ferns and flies. Below are some photos of us in the field after we left the beautiful Wilsons Promontory and headed up the coast.
Sometimes, our sampling brought us close to the road! Above, Dr. Nagalingum samples bracken near a busy road in southern New South Wales.
Dr. Lapoint samples flies on the border between Victoria and New South Wales.
Above, Dr. Whiteman stands in Victoria, just before crossing into New South Wales.
Dr. Lapoint examines contents of a net after sweeping from bracken in southern New South Wales.
Success! Two specimens of fern-feeding Scaptodrosophila that Dr. Lapoint collected from a sweep of bracken in southern New South Wales.
Female Scaptodrosophila megagenys (left) and Scaptodrosophila notha (right) collected from southern New South Wales, both of which use bracken during their larval stage. Note the egg guides on the ends of their abdomens, which are highly sclerotized (dark and hard) with serrated margins (if one looks closely). They use these to create wounds in the bracken while laying eggs.
Dr. Whiteman examines contents of a sweep net from a site that was recently burned (note the bracken have regenerated from below ground rhizomes) in Victoria, near Bemm River.
Dr. Whiteman in the background sweeping, bracken with galls of Scaptodrosophila megagenys in the foreground.
Dr. Lapoint and Dr. Whiteman sweeping bracken.
After a productive day in the field, terror strikes! Dr. Lapoint has found a terrestrial leech crawling up his leg!
So, we pulled over and Dr. Lapoint calmly (not really) removed this creature from his person.
A close up photo of the land leech. One has to admit that it is beautiful (right?) in its own way. But then again, we think even parasites have intrinsic value (see this paper on parasite conservation).