Florian Etl works as a pollination biologist at the University of Vienna’s Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research. His research regularly takes him to the tropical rainforests of Central America, where he studies unknown pollination systems, specialized insects and floral scents. He is currently undertaking the field work for his PhD at the Austrian Tropical Field Station La Gamba in Costa Rica. His aim is to find out how specialized bees and beetles are attracted by the perfumes of certain tropical flowers. Relying on their olfactory senses, the beetles home in on their flowers at night and use them as rendezvous sites to find a mate and copulate, while the bees collect the floral perfumes in the morning. But how do such symbioses evolve and how do plants adapt to these insect pollinators? After a hard day’s work in the rainforest Florian enjoys some quiet time in his hammock, pondering these questions.
The Tropical Field Station La Gamba is situated on the edge of the Piedras Blancas National Park in southwest Costa Rica. The field station provides research facilities to scientists and students, who come to study the incredible diversity of one of the last remaining wet tropical lowland Pacific rainforests in Central America. The focus lies on conservation and reforestation of sites to create biological corridors between protected areas, as well as high school scholarships for local students.