Phytotelmata: Miniature Breeding Grounds for Mosquitoes and Rat-tailed Maggots
The author, Emily Hartop, investigating a phytotelma formed by exposed tree roots. Photo by Brian Brown.
One of the many benefits of doing research in urban environments is the ability to spend a day in "the field" by simply walking out your door. Brian Brown (Curator of Entomology at NHM) and I did just that on a recent morning, and found ourselves investigating some unexpected phytotelmata in the exposed roots of large Ficus trees growing in front of the Exposition Park Rose Garden next door to the NHM.
Phytotelma (plural phytotelmata) is a fancy word that translates as "plant pond" and refers to any captured water environments created by plants. Some plants have evolved specifically for this purpose, like...