William Atkinson ’18
The Unexplored Biodiversity of Costa Rica’s Singing Insects, Costa Rica
My summer fieldwork took place in Costa Rica’s Área de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG), the world’s largest tropical forest restoration project. The ACG boasts a rich symphony of animal calls, but the “musicians” of this orchestra are often unknown, especially orthopterans—a group of calling insects that includes crickets and katydids. Working with graduate student Tim Treuer, I hoped to assess the biodiversity of orthopterans in the ACG by creating a “library” of different species and their calls. I recorded and collected insects in the forest every evening, completing our collection with about 22 recorded species and nearly 300 specimens. Knowing which calls belong to which species, I have begun to analyze Tim’s large-scale recordings and match the insect calls on them with my recorded species. I also learned how to pin and preserve the insects, which were sent to American museums for further study. Most importantly, I improved at dealing with adversity and fine-tuning my methods, while keeping the sense of wonder that comes when the forest is the workplace. I am grateful for the opportunity to work in such an exciting location, and hope to make fieldwork a key part of my future research.
Biodiversity and Conservation
Wilcove Group, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ and Costa Rica
David Wilcove, Professor, Woodrow Wilson School