Thoughts on the Internship: Jenny Morris

HOW HAS YOUR COLLEGE TRAINING ASSISTED YOU

Courses in Population Biology and Statistics helped. Those classes gave me examples and methods that I use in the field to compare observations and results. It is a task to discover information about vegetation, but even more difficult to observe the growth of vegetation and the insects that contribute to their growth and floral production.

A BOTANICAL HIGHLIGHT

Learning about the Agave braceana species. It has succulent leaves with sharp marginal teeth. It lives for many, many years and has only one flowering event which culminates in its death. Our team took a trip to the Agave savannah with Dr. Freid where I observed that age and size were not the deciding factors on whether an individual will have its single reproductive event. The agaves occupy a large habitat on Eleuthera but can only be found in two areas of New Providence.

YOUR RESEARCH PROJECT

I’m comparing insect visitation between Stachytarpheta fruticosa (Bahama Vervain) and Stachytarpheta jamaicensis (Jamaica Vervain), members of the Verbenaceae family. By observing times, patterns and the abundance of species types to the flowers of these plants, my initial assessment shows a more diverse visitation of insects to the Bahama Vervain.

WHY YOU CHOSE IT

The native S. jamaicensis has a peculiar appearance and is known to thrive under disturbance. The species has a spike for inflorescence growth which is composed of tiny, purple flowers that live for a short while and die, making way for new flowers up the spike. I began by only observing this species to determine whether insect visitation played a prominent role in flower production or if it was caused by disturbance. After learning there was an endemic species S. fruticosa I then settled on a comparison study of the two species for my project.

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