Project T.A.R.D.I.S. – First stop: La Selva

The TARDIS – Time And Relative Dimension In Space

Do you remember Dr Who’s spacecraft and time machine – the Time and Relative Dimension in Space A.K.A. the TARDIS? A machine that can take you anywhere in space and time?

A TARDIS would be a great piece of equipment  to instantaneously visit remote places along elevational gradients, or the future. An ideal tool to answer key questions regarding climate change!

Well, technology now lets us mimic temperatures and other environmental variables anywhere – get an incubator, a growth chamber and there it is! a portal to a novel environment.

Greivin soldering a frame to hold incubators


This summer, at La Selva Biological Station – Costa Rica, we built a portal to different temperatures experienced by insects living along the La Selva Braulio Carrillo mountain gradient.




Canuto working on the temperature controllers
Greivin and Eduard Gomez, building the TARDIS








Together with the workshop crew at La Selva, we built a set of incubators that mimic current temperatures and temperatures expected under projected global warming in tropical rain, premontane and montane forests.

Erin building the heating component of the incubators
Erin building the heating component for the incubators

One of the objectives of our project is to build accurate and inexpensive equipment, with materials that are locally available. Our collaborators working in different countries can easily build the same setup and explore the effects of temperature on organisms living at different elevations and latitudes.




Our TARDIS – Thermal and Altitude Research in Dynamic Invertebrate Systems

Using these incubators as portals to current and future temperatures along tropical mountains, we are starting to elucidate the physiological and demographic responses of insects living at different elevations under projected global warming.

This is the first of many laboratory setups to be positioned along the La Selva – Barva elevational gradient. Collaborators in Mexico are also building a similar lab to explore the responses to global warming in insects at higher latitude.

We call this project Thermal and Altitude Research in Dynamic Invertebrate Systems – Welcome to project TARDIS







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