The Tobago field collecting team: (left to right): David, Terri and Darren
Joanna Ostapkowicz, Curator of the Americas, collection concludes her research journey through Trinidad & Tobago:
"Day 9-10: Tobago
Tobago: the final stop in the herbarium/strontium collecting tour. Forestry officer Mr. Darren Henry picked me up early on the first day for a quick visit to the Forestry offices to discuss itinerary and best places to find the specific species we’re after, before venturing out to the ‘wilds’ of the island.
In contrast to the 8 days it took us to sample an island the size of Trinidad; we managed to do the length and breadth of Tobago in 2 days. On the second day, we were joined by trainees Ms Terri Phillips and Mr David Quamina, both of whom quickly became proficient at herbarium collecting – from labelling to GPS readings.
The iridescent Jacamar and the not so-small Longhorn beetle
Samples sites on Tobago
Tobago is green and lush, with small, quiet villages nestled along the coast – its colonial history echoing in the names of its towns and bays: Glamorgan, Culloden Bay, Hillsborough, Englishman’s Bay and, memorably, Bloody Bay – named after the 1771 battle between English forces and African slaves that turned the sea crimson with blood. At its northern core is the Tobago Forest Reserve – the oldest protected rainforest in the western hemisphere (established 1771, and consisting of 14,000 acres): we secured our last Andira sp there. The ‘wildlife’ didn’t disappoint either – from insects to birds, the island is rich in natural wonders.
The coastline of Tobago, looking south from Flagstaff Hill, the Northern most point of the island
It poured down a couple of times during the course of our fieldwork, which made sample collection a bit of a challenge – but all worked out in the end, and we had 21 samples of Andira sp., Terminalia sp., and Brosimum sp., among others. Thanks to Jameel, they were couriered back to the National Herbarium for processing. Together with the 111 specimens from Trinidad, the two islands were well represented by 132 tree specimens. These benefit not only the herbarium collections of two institutions, but also contribute to building a thorough strontium isotope data set for both islands.
The project has built collaborative links with colleagues at the National Herbarium of Trinidad and Tobago as well as the islands’ Forestry Divisions, and it has been an absolute pleasure to work alongside everyone. My thanks to Yasmin, Jameel (and family), Kim, Keisha, Necheia, Shavini, Safraz, Harris, Imran, Leo, Nayo, Jason, Darren, Terri, David, Hamlet and Cyril – for making my time on the islands so productive and memorable!"