Apr 2, 2008

first gigapan: caterpillars

after lots of messing about with mounting the canon S5 IS on the the gigapan, i bailed on it in favour of charlie's fancy new canon G9 camera (smaller, fits perfectly in the mount, 6x optical zoom, 12.1 megapixels). i took 4 gigapans while there and have only stitched and posted one. the others are either inexplicable (there are tiles there that don't fit in the mosaic no matter what i do) or so large that i don't yet dare try to stitch them together. this first gigapixel panorama is of the interior of the caterpillar barn at the 190,000 hectare area de conservación guanacaste (ACG) -- a place where caterpillars collected in the wild by ACG parataxonomists are raised to maturity. (they're feeding on leaves in the plastic bags on clotheslines strung under the roof of the barn.)

picture courtesy of kris norvig

part of the challenge of studying the lepidoptera is that a single individual passes through three active lifecycle stages, each morphologically distinct (larva, chrysalis, adult) -- raising the larva to maturity in captivity allows all three stages to be documented and connected. because each kind of caterpillar generally feeds only on one kind of leaf, caterpillar-rearing is more challenging and relies much more heavily on highly-granular local knowledge than it may initially seem. the parataxonomist team (and the local knowledge it represents) has helped the ACG caterpillar barn produce a tremendous constellation of knowledge surrounding the lepidoptera of northern costa rica -- over 3000 different species to date, with thousands yet to go.

to come: a few gigapans, and a bit about the methodological orientation of the ACG and its exemplification of a peculiarly sociologically-enlightened approach to the production of biological data.

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