Students in a Uruguay Natural Resources Management Program Find a Gorgeous Orchid - Observation of the Week, 11/10/20

Our Observation of the Week is this Bipinnula montana orchid, seen in Uruguay by @mateoalmada!

The remarkable orchid you see above is one of our most popular recent Observations of the Day, if one goes by social media engagement, and it was seen not only by Mateo Almada but his fellow students in the Universidad del Trabajo de Uruguay’s Degree in Natural Areas Management program. I’d like to thank @flo_grattarola for getting me in touch with Professor Matías Zarucki (@mattzarrr, below), who in turn looped in Mateo.

Students in the Natural Areas Management program train to be park rangers, and Matías tells me 

we use ​iNaturalist as a tool for the registration and identification of species during our field activities. We believe that this is a good didactic tool to motivate students and, at the same time, generate valuable information for the knowledge of biodiversity. In addition to the specific records of our field trips, we created a ​project where we document the biodiversity in two of the school grounds that we visit most often.

Field trips have unfortunately been curtailed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but in recent months the students and professors were able to restart them due to Uruguay’s generally successful containment of the virus. For example, here they are at Grutas de Salamanca.

The group visited an archaeological site in the state of Maldonado, and Mateo recalls 

The field trip objective was to visit the place and assess the conservation status of the forest. On October 27, during a walk on the hills, we were attentive, appreciating the fauna and flora, and when something caught our attention, we stopped to observe it. It was then when I appreciated the ​Bipinnula montana​. I photographed it and at night I shared it in the application, I didn’t expect the impact it had. I'm happy because it puts my country on the map on something other than football.

What impressed me the most when I saw it was the shape of the tongue with the little hairs and the ribs of the leaf that surrounded it. I felt compelled to capture that beauty with my phone and it become my first plant record in iNat.

Unfortunately, not much is known about this species (“The lack of information represents here one of the problems for biodiversity conservation,” says Mateo), but we do know it grows in both Brazil and Uruguay, and generally grows on dry grasslands. 

Mateo (above), tells me “I have always admired and photographed nature a lot, [and iNaturalist] allows me to save my records in an album where I collect the richness of our biodiversity...

Through the application, I have learned about the importance of collecting information about our flora and fauna to provide data that can be of great help to researchers and natural resources managers. It's great because it is an application that reaches all audiences where anyone with a simple photo can collaborate a lot with the community.


- Here’s a project showing observations made for in the program’s two commonly-visited sites.

- A nice video (en Español) about the University’s Natural Resources Careers program

- Take a gander at other observations of this good looking genus.

Posted by tiwane tiwane, November 10, 2020 20:43

Comments

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Nice orchid. Any idea of its pollination biology?

Posted by tonyrebelo 14 days ago (Flag)
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Beautiful orchid.

Posted by carolynstewart 14 days ago (Flag)
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Mateo said he could only really find this publication and I didn't see any pollination info for B. montana. B. penicillata looks to be pollinated by male Campsomeris bees, using sexual mimicry. They note wasps have been seen pollinating that species as well.

Posted by tiwane 14 days ago (Flag)
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Super cool @mateoalmada
Way to go becoming the observation of the week

Posted by myles678 14 days ago (Flag)
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A very amazing looking plant! I'm ever and again awed by the variety and Beauty of the Natural World!

Posted by katharinab 14 days ago (Flag)
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What a fabulous orchid! Thanks for letting us see it!

Posted by susanhewitt 14 days ago (Flag)
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What a fantastic observation!

Posted by kitty12 14 days ago (Flag)
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BEAUTIFUL

Posted by nomolosx 14 days ago (Flag)
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So beautiful!

Posted by claudia_ma 14 days ago (Flag)
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wow ! Amazing planet and, as humans, lucky to have seen this much of diversity spell !

Posted by dharas 14 days ago (Flag)
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Pollination: cool. so probably https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/882340-Campsomeris or related genus. Sexual mimicry almost always involves male wasps. Curiously, the wasp visits the flower "backwards" (at least in the picture @tiwane posted above for B. penicillata: fig 9d) - head down and abdomen into the flower. Which suggests that the "rhinophore" must mimic the female head? And the black stripes resembling nectar guides are "abdomen guides". Looks like a great reason to visit Uruguay.

Posted by tonyrebelo 14 days ago (Flag)
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Lovely @tiwane ! Thanks for getting the story out there :)

Posted by flo_grattarola 14 days ago (Flag)
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While I would hardly call this orchid beautiful (I guess that's in the eye of the beholder) it is certainly a spectacular illustration of evolutionary diversity! Thanks for the pollination info provided by @tonyrebelo to make sense of these structures.

Posted by drpetesut 13 days ago (Flag)
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great observation!!

Posted by sajibbiswas 13 days ago (Flag)
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Amazing orchid!

Posted by roshan2010 12 days ago (Flag)
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Wow! I'm going to share this with my introductory botany class this week--we're just beginning to talk about Anthophyta and this will help captivate even the most plant-dismissive among them!

Posted by lybaldwin 12 days ago (Flag)
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It almost looks like an animal! Congratulations on spotting it!

Posted by mokennon 12 days ago (Flag)
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Well, to the wasp that pollinates it, it not only looks like an animal, it looks like a female wasp. What is more it irresistibly smells like a female wasp: unfortunately, the subtle odours are not well conveyed in the photo, even if we could interpret them. (Ditto the UV "colours" of the flower, which will also be helping to fool the wasp into thinking it is a female)
Of course, the males are probably naive and have not yet encountered a female (typically male wasps emerge before females do), or alternatively they dare not ignore a slightly irregular "female".

Posted by tonyrebelo 12 days ago (Flag)
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I'm giving a course on Backyard Bioiversity in February and will certainly point my students to this post. We will be having a session on sex amongst the little people and this will be a great example! Thanks again, Martha

Posted by mokennon 11 days ago (Flag)
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I'm giving a course on Backyard Bioiversity in February and will certainly point my students to this post. We will be having a session on sex amongst the little people and this will be a great example! Thanks again, Martha

Posted by mokennon 11 days ago (Flag)

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