Stories from STRI website

Fortuitous Discovery

Accidental tree wound reveals novel symbiotic behavior

A group of high school students describe how Azteca alfari ants respond to damage to their host plant.

Dark Navigation

First report of dorsal navigation in a flying insect

Sweat bees navigate through dark tropical forests guided by canopy patterns.

Botanical Detective

Microscopic wood analyses reveal source of cathedral altarpiece

Timber anatomy studies help inform conservation and restoration decisions for historical monuments, and may provide previously unknown information about the artistic techniques or materials used in the past.

Darwinian Diet

You are what you eat: Evolutionary lessons from agricultural ants in Panama

Just as contemporary human societies depend on large-scale agriculture, leaf-cutter ants depend on a long, co-evolved relationship with a fungus. As humans, we may share some of the same rules that govern their relationship.

Insect Societies

Can social bees and ants teach us the pillars of sustainable societies?

STRI staff scientist and evolutionary biologist Bill Wcislo discusses the foibles of social bees and farming ants and the evolution of their behavior in changing environments. In a time of crisis, what can we learn from these insects about their highly efficient public health care systems?

Old Genes, New Traits

Recycling old genes to get new traits – How social behavior evolves in bees

Researchers learned from some unusual sweat bee species on Barro Colorado Island, Panama, how the sophisticated division of labor in highly complex insect societies can arise from humble beginnings.

Male Or Female

How does an intersex bee behave?

A collaborative effort at Barro Colorado island described the daily rhythm of a rare half male-half female bee.

Golden Bees

A Bee’s-Eye-View of Panama in the late 1800’s

Bees and their pollen reveal the environment of the first Cathedral on the American mainland, as do photos by preeminent landscape photographer, Eadweard Muybridge.


Color and Vision

Art and science on the same wavelength

Pheromone Talk

The queen gets to keep her daughter

Why did some bee species become social, while the majority have remained solitary? On Barro Colorado Island, a bee that adopts both strategies interchangeably, may unlock the evolutionary origins of sociality in insects.

Drop Your Weapons!

Autotomy, the shedding of a body part, reveals the hidden cost of conflict

Not only does it take energy to make weapons, it may take even more energy to maintain them. Because leaf-footed bugs drop their legs, it is possible to measure how much energy they allocate to maintaining this appendage that males use to fight other males.

Drone Pilot

Milton Garcia’s Bird’s-Eye-View

When he’s not racing his bike cross-country, Milton Garcia is in demand for his expertise flying drones. In the last month, he monitored mangrove deforestation on Panama’s Pacific coast, mapped a new research station in Coiba National Park and tracked blooming trees on Barro Colorado Island, the first plot in an international network of forest monitoring sites.

STRI’s Newest Official Facility

Generous donation allows STRI to establish a living laboratory in the Tropical Eastern Pacific

Coibita Island, part of a World Heritage Site in Panama’s Pacific, is poised to become a leading research site for tropical marine biology.

It’s Complicated

Why study symbiotic relationships in Panama?

Join us to explore a few examples showcasing the spectrum of relationships among tropical organisms and their consequences from the genome to the global level. How does being in relationship change with time and what triggers tipping points that radically change the partners’ lives?