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

Searching for dragons

My first taste of the Drakensberg, the Dragon Mountains. A long weekend of snow and sunshine, hiking between towers of rock, sleeping in caves, bouldering and climbing on sketchy sandstone (“Jack and the Beanstalk”, 5 pitches, 17/5b).

Some pictures.

Impressions of South Africa

Cumberland natural reserve.

Cumberland natural reserve.

I flew to South Africa on May 6th, 2016. This is my second time in the country. The first time was back in 2014, for a short visit in the area around Cape Town and Stellenbosch. I came for a conference and I stayed a few more days, for a walk in the Fynbos, some wine tasting, a cage-dive with white sharks, a hike up Table Mountain. This time I am in Pietermaritzburg, and I will stick around for a while longer: I got a research position for three years. Continue reading