Climbing dispatches

Since I moved to South Africa, “work hard, play hard” has been the name of the game. At times, I have to admit, it feels like the right order may be “play hard, work hard”. And when I say “play”, I mostly mean “climb”. Here are the accounts of some of my adventures on rock and in the mountains in the last few months.

Sonja, Chris and I on top of Long Bolt to Freedom, Swinburne, around March 2017.

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Notes from the field: finding Lapeirousia pyramidalis

Color variability in a population of Lapeirousia pyramidalis subsp. regalis

The reason of my field trip to the Cape was to study Lapeirousia pyramidalis. This plant species occurs in two subspecies: subspecies regalis, with mostly purple flowers, is distributed within a 80-km-long, ~1-km-wide stretch of the succulent Karoo region, along the Olifants river and West of the Cederberg; subspecies pyramidalis has mostly white-pink, scented flowers and is widespread in the Karoo East of the Cederberg. The two subspecies differ also by their pollinators: long-tongued flies for subsp. regalis and moths for subsp. pyramidalis. Continue reading

Notes from the field: the Namaqualand connection

I came to South Africa to study how the ecological interactions between plants and pollinators affect their evolution. My research questions are not tightly linked to specific species, but they aim at assessing the generality of certain eco-evolutionary patterns. To this goal, I am focusing on a heterogeneous group of plants distributed all across South Africa, characterized by long-tubed flowers that are visited by insects with adequately long tongues and proboscis. Continue reading