New Model of Climate Change Effects on Coffee Availability and Bee Pollinators

Overcoming Doomsday Scenarios Depends on Biological Intelligence

From STRI

Areas in Latin America suitable for growing coffee face predicted declines of 73-88 percent by 2050. However, diversity in bee species may save the day, even if many species in cool highland regions are lost as the climate warms. The research, co-authored by David Roubik, senior scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, will be published in early online Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences edition between Sept. 11-15.Scientists David Roubik

“For my money, we do a far superior job of predicting the future when we consider both plants and animals (or in this case the bees) and their biology,” Roubik said. “Traditional models don’t build in the ability of organisms to change. They’re based on the world as we know it now, not on the way it could be as people and other organisms adapt.”

A research team modeled impacts for Latin America, the largest coffee-growing region under several global-warming scenarios—considering both the plants and the bees. The team consisted of bee experts from the Smithsonian in Panama; the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Vietnam; the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center in Costa Rica; Conservation International and the University of Vermont in the U.S.; CIRAD in France; and CIFOR in Peru.

Despite predicted declines in total bee species, in all scenarios at least five bee species were left in future coffee-suitable areas; in about half of the areas, 10 bee species were left.Mountain in Panama

For land no longer suitable for coffee production, the team recommended management strategies to help farmers switch to other crops or production systems. In areas where bee diversity is expected to decrease, but coffee can still be grown, adaptation strategies may include increasing bee habitat and maintaining native bees. Many coffee types prefer to grow in the shade of tall trees. Choosing tree species that favor bees are a win-win strategy, according to the authors.

Roubik’s favorite example of a potentially huge environmental change that did not play out as predicted is the case of Africanized honey bees, which were accidentally released in Brazil in 1957. Roubik’s studies in Panama of coffee pollination taking native rainforest bees into consideration began in the 1970s as the aggressive non-native Africanized honey bees swarmed north through Latin America. Doomsayers predicted the worst: that the killer bees would disrupt the delicate balance between tropical forest species and their native pollinators. Roubik discovered the opposite to be true. In lowland tropical forests in Mexico, plants pollinated by very busy Africanized bees ended up producing more flowers, thus making more pollen and nectar available to native bees.

“Africanized honey bees in the Western Hemisphere both regulate their nest temperature and their own body temperature using water,” Roubik said. “When the climate is hotter—unless it’s too dry—they’re better adapted to endure climate change and pollinate coffee—an African plant.”

By paying attention to biological processes and managing coffee for maximum pollination depending upon the effects of climate on both the plants and the bees, as well as strategically adjusting shade, rotating crops and conserving natural forests, it may be possible for coffee producers to adapt to climate change.

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, headquartered in Panama City, Panama, is a unit of the Smithsonian Institution. The Institute furthers the understanding of tropical biodiversity and its importance to human welfare, trains students to conduct research in the tropics and promotes conservation by increasing public awareness of the beauty and importance of tropical ecosystems. Website: http://www.stri.si.edu/. Promo video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9JDSIwBegk.

Contact us for academic travel and join amazing experts in different fiels on the isthmus that change the world:  Panama!  for details info@ecocircuitos.com

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Imbach, P., Fung, E., Hannah, L. et al. 2017 Coffee, bees, and climate: Coupling of pollination services and agriculture under climate change. PNAS. www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1617940114

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Tips for fly and drive vacations: Self drive adventures in Panama

EcoCircuitos Panama Travel Blog

In order to be independent and maximize your holiday experience, we recommend self-drive in the western region of Panama including the provinces of Cocle (El Valle), Los Santos (Azuero Peninsula) and Chiriqui (Boquete). This allows the flexibility to stop whenever you see something interesting. Compared to its neighboring countries, the main roads in Panama are in very good conditions. Do bear in mind that Panama is a mountainous country, roads can be curvy and signage is generally poor once outside the main cities. However, full directions are provided by our staff when you receive the vouchers and the vehicle.

We generally recommend a Group C vehicle, Toyota Yaris or similar. We have selected National Car Rental and Budget Rent a Car as our suppliers in Panama. They have offices in Panama City downtown, Panama City – Tocumen International Airport, Panama City-Albrook Domestic Airport, David Airport located in the Chiriquí Province.

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Why Travel with EcoCircuitos on your next trip to Panama?

Traveling with EcoCircuitos Panama is the best way to know our amazing country.  We are able to negotiate much better rates at hotels and in off season we offer amazing discounts.  Also, we are a local team of enthusiasts that have the best inside knowledge of the top places, lodges, and adventures while in Panama.   We want you to have a real transformative and authentic experience, not just a tour!

Our company was founded in 1999 by a passionate Panamanian woman that love her country and her people and has been committed to the development of sustainable tourism, providing distinct responsible travel options throughout the Republic of Panama. Our team is comprised of multi-lingual travel experts and enthusiasts that ensure our clients are provided with high-quality services and memorable custom made adventures.

We pride ourselves on our reputation for delivering exceptional travel experiences and we have compiled an 8 simple list of reasons why you should choose us on your next vacation to Panama.

  1. Value for Money:  From the moment of your booking request to your departure, every single step of your journey is attended by local specialists to ensure an authentic travel experience.
  2. Tailor made for you:  Our team of Panama experts designs your itinerary personalized for you and depending on your preferences and the time and budget you want to spend.
  3. IN-depth insights: Gain a holistic understanding of culture, architecture, history, nature, and wildlife with our specialist local guides who are experts in the field.
  4. Local passion: We are Panamanians and travel enthusiasts.  Our vacation programs are designed base upon our own discoveries and favorite places.  We believe in offering authentic experiences by local’s experts.  We want you to experience the real Panama!
  5. Responsible Traveling: Our philosophy is to approach each destination carefully, considering the impact that our tours will have on the environment and the local communities.
  6. Safety & Trust: EcoCircuitos has a Health and Safety policy in place, which is communicated to all staff members, guides, drivers, and subcontractors.   All our vehicles meet all local safety/maintenance standards.  Also, we go beyond and carry a liability insurance of 500K.
  7. Flexibility and Logistics: Using EcoCircuitos give you the flexibility to enjoy fully your vacation.  We will deal with all communications, logistics and will take away all the hassle from you.  You only get to sit back and enjoy Panama.
  8. Unique Destinations: We love exploring unusual places away from common tourist paths:  lush rainforest, archeological sites, beautiful islands and amazing local communities.  You will experience always something new!

Panama is Diversity

By Anaisha Shuffler

When you hear someone mention “Panama” what´s the first thing that comes to mind? Some people have never heard about the country before. Many think of Panama City, Florida. Others immediately picture the Canal.

What about the people? What do Panamanians look like? Are we mostly Caucasian or African American? Are we tall or short?

Aside from the Canal and the humidity, Panama is also known for its ethnic diversity. These groups include Mestizos, which are a mix of European and native ancestry, Afro-Panamanians, and also a considerable Asian population.

For this post, although I´m Afro-Panamanian myself, I will focus on the Asian population.

I graduated from a Taiwanese-Panamanian school, so naturally, most of my friends are Asians, and I have gained a huge appreciation and respect for their culture. And a vast love for their cuisine.

If you are ever in Panama and have a craving for Asian food, whether it be Chinese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese… you will have many options.

One of the most popular Chinese restaurants in Panama is “Golden Unicorn”. Over the years, their clientele went from exclusively Asian to a clientele as diverse as our country. They are known mostly for their delicious Chinese breakfasts called “dim sum” and for their “hot pot”, known here as “fogón”.

The concept is simple: You pay a certain amount of money and they place a small stove in the middle of the table with a pot full of stock which can be spicy or regular (And if you want both, they place a divider). They bring multiple plates of different raw foods to your table such as shrimp, lobster, fish balls, meat balls, fine slices of steak, vegetables, noodles and more. You then proceed to cook your own food. The best thing about this is that once you are done, and you want more, you can ask for another round!

You may think “why would I pay to cook my own food?”, but it´s actually a fun experience. I went many times as a teenager with my friends and a few weeks ago I took my 14-year-old cousin to experience it and she loved it.

Many foreigners came up to us and asked us what it was all about, and as we explained, they got excited and went over to their table to ask for the same thing. My cousin and I would sneak glances at them, and you could just tell that they were having a blast!

It´s an awesome group activity. And if you are like me, and you like to eat, you will ask for another round.

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Green Travel Trends

I just read an article from Anne Lim – Travel Trends In The Twenty-Tens: What Marketers Need To Know and I feel excited  to confirm that the trends are going towards responsible tourism and that companies like EcoCircuitos that have been working for years to support the local knowledge, empowering local communities and offering transformative experiences are on the right track of the industry today.

I feel connected with the philosophy of today’s travelers that buy less and experience more is the way to travel.    Some of the important information she shares with us in his very interesting article is that people are spending more on travels but in a conscious way and definitely, companies in the industry need to change strategy and adapt to the new green travelers.   Definitely, Sustainable Tourism is finally sexy!!

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Below some of the figures Anne Lim shares in her article:

Sustainable Tourism is the way today

More than 70% of travelers plan to make eco-friendly choices in the next vacation, in contrast to what was only 45% one year ago. In addition to this, 58% of travelers said their choices are affected by whether or not the hotel and tour company gives back to the local community, and 66% of global consumers prefer to buy products and services from brands that give back to society [TripAdvisor]. Why? It seems that in this age of political turmoil and ecological crisis, individuals support only the companies whose values are aligned with those of their own, especially when it comes to luxury purchases and consumerism. It’s in these particular cases that marketers must take social responsibility into account. By advertising the charitable aspects of the brands, you’re telling people why they should want your product, as well as why they should also feel good about buying it over the competition – a strategy that will be especially effective with millennial travelers. 

The “Bucket List Effect” (Panama should be on that list)

75% of travelers say they’d like to visit travel destinations that none of their friends have visited before. Additionally, 80% of travelers expressed interest in escaping the usual tourist traps on their next holiday [Experiential Travel Survey]. It turns out that people enjoy having unique experiences they can claim as their own, as opposed to traveling to the same popularly visited destinations that will provide them with the same basic pictures that everybody else has in their photo-albums or social platforms. This means that people are always on the prowl for a trendy destination – giving marketers an opportunity to showcase “under-rated” locales which enable their ads to stand out more and drive curiosity; a powerful duo that can exponentially increase sales.

Some tips for Photographers in Panama

If you are like me and you enjoy nature photography when travel, take a look of this tips before packing your camera for your Panama Expedition.

When you go for an air-conditioned van to the humidity of the rainforest, your camera will fog up, both inside and out.  Keep your equipment as far from the air conditioner as possible.  In an ideal world having one lens per camera body would be the best solution for high humidity environments. In this situation you’d have one lens on your camera body the entire length of your trip so that humid air never enters your camera. Few people outside of the professional circle have this luxury, so it is important to minize the number of times you change lenses when in the field.

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If you buy a new camera, please play with the equipment before departing on your adventure.  It is a good idea to have the manual available just in case.  We suggest you to download an electronic version online.

If you are binging an old camera, check the batteries, lenses and electronic equipment before your trip.

Bring lot of memory for your camera!  Panama is an amazing diverse destination and you may want to take lot of pictures.  During your trip you may not have access to computer so memory is a must!

If you are planning to go out at night, bring a good flash.

Don’t forget a protected gear from rain or humidity.  You can also use a large gallon-size plastic bag as an impromptu rain sleeve in a pinch.  Another alternative is to use a shower cap that some hotels include free in the bathroom.

Bring extra batteries.  Batteries can be difficult to replace during your adventures.  Extra rechargeable batteries can be helpful too.

Bring a Tripod or a monopod can be useful for long lenses or close-up photography and is essential if you want to take long-exposure shots.

Dry your hands before changing batteries and CF cards. This will minimize introduction of moisture, inside the camera, that might later condense upon returning home. Keep in mind this will be particularly true the sweatier you are.

Bonus Tip
Toward the end of your trip utilize a hotel room air conditioners to dehumidify your gear. No need to place your gear too close. Having your equipment out and your camera bag open can be enough to help pull away a build up of moisture.

 

 

 

Adventure in Coiba National Park

Coiba national park

With the exception of the Galapagos and Isla del Coco, few places in the Americas are as exotic and biodiverse as this national park on Coiba Island. Due to its hard accessibility and the strict environmental protection, the island features pristine ecosystems and a unique fauna.

Coiba National Park consists of a group of Islands in the Pacific Ocean south of Veraguas Province. The park covers 270,125 hectares, of which about 80% is marine, the islands cover only 20% of the surface area. The waters around Coiba are very rich in life. There may be as many as 700 species of fish swimming in the waters around Coiba and some of those are present in large numbers.

While snorkeling near Coiba, you are often surrounded by hundreds of fish, mostly by small plankton-eating fish such as panamic sergeant majors and scissortails. The reefs are inhabited by morays, butterfly fish, angel fish, parrot fish, hawk fish, tile fish, moorish idols, wrasses, white-tipped reef-sharks (harmless) and many others. Occasionally, you may encounter a huge snapper, grouper or a nurse shark on the reef. The reefs are also home to turtles, mostly hawksbill and olive ridley turtles, but green turtles and loggerheads have been seen as well. The edges of the reef are often visited by blue-fin trevally and other species of jacks, trevallies, rainbow runners and occasionally schools of black-tail barracudas (harmless) also make a pass along the reefs. Wahoo, yellow fin tuna, sail fish and marlins roam the deeper waters of the park.

The island is home to 36 species of mammals, 39 species of amphibians and reptiles, and 147 species of birds. Some of the land animals have been isolated from the mainland for so long that they have evolved into different species. The Coiba agouti and the Coiba howler monkeys are a different species from those you encounter on the mainland. These two and the Coiba spinetail (Cranioleuca dissita), a bird, only occur on Coiba and nowhere else in the world. Coiba is also the only place in Panama where you can see flocks of the threatened Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao).

Check our Coiba adventure for more information.  We offer special discounts for students and groups.

For more information contact info@ecocircuitos.com  or call +507 3151488