On the way in to the congress venue yesterday morning I spotted a small yellow bird lying dead on the street; turned out to be a Japanese White-eye, a first for me. Can I count dead birds on my life list?
The scientific programme for the day got off to a great start with a keynote by Michael Donoghue on the value of model lineages for really exploring plant evolution in depth. He focused on the work of his group on the genus Viburnum, and it has a masterclass in presenting a lot of complex work in an engaging and contextual way, telling a great story.
These photos tell you about the scale of these keynotes and the need for video feeds of the presentation. It’s all working well though:
In the afternoon things got a little more intimate when the themed symposia started. For now I’ve decided not to try to move between sessions to cherry pick talks I really want to hear and instead stick with the single sessions. The first of these was on “Pollination by non-flying mammals” and a series of speakers outlined some of the diversity of these animals and how flowers are adapted to be pollinated by them. As camera traps have become more widely used, especially at night using infra red lighting, the range of mammals known to pollinate flowers has increased and now includes species such as genets and elephant shrews. The latter wins the prize for outrageous cuteness! Check out some of the images of these pollinators at this BBC site.
That session ended at 3.30pm and there was just time to chat to a few people and grab a quick coffee before I was speaking at 4.00pm in the “Evolution of floral traits” session, in a vast hall that seemed mainly empty but actually probably had a couple of hundred people in it:
My talk was on “Spatio-temporal stability of an island endemic plant-pollinator interaction involving floral colour change”. It seemed to be well received though in retrospect I probably focused too much on the pollinator side of what’s happening in our Tenerife study system. The talks that came after were a great mix of scales and approaches but by 6.00pm the jetlag had caught up with me and I couldn’t stop myself falling asleep towards the end of a fascinating talk by Adam Roddy (sorry Adam!) That was bad enough: then I started snoring and was jerked awake when Kathleen Kay punched me (thank’s Kathleen!) Oh the science shame….
Much chatting afterwards then whisked off to dinner by some Chinese and American colleagues, in the fanciest hotel I’ve ever seen: we were met out of the lift by a gaggle of singing waitresses…. A very pleasant evening. Back to the hotel by 9.30pm, for a beer and some tv, but could hardly keep my eyes open. Slept until 6.00am – huzzah – jetlag seems to be over! Now to breakfast and the start of a new day. Must finish writing my talk for Saturday though….