Detritivores and Plant Biodiversity at La Selva, Costa Rica
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I spent two months completing field research at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica, where my work under professors Terry McGlynn and Beth Braker focuses on varying decomposition rates of leaf litter on the forest floor of humid, low-elevation rainforest. Two-hundred-seventy fine-mesh bags, each filled with ten grams of dried leaf litter from Cecropia obtusifolia, were placed in groups of five at eighteen separate stations throughout La Selva; stations were selected based on differences between both physical terrain and soil composition. Once distributed, the contents of the bags were allowed to decompose until one from each group was/will be collected at pre-determined intervals of two, four, eight, 24 (? 2) and 52 (? 2) weeks. During the summer of 2008, I will continue my research at La Selva. Comparisons of decompositions at all eighteen sites will be analyzed, and we will be able to make hypotheses about how leaf litter decomposition rates are affected by differences in both terrain and soil composition.