We awoke to rain....heavy rain..…that kind of Amazon rain where you can’t keep your eyelids open and that promises to last all day. And we are in the middle of the dry season! Well, this is time to recover from hectic preparations in Kansas, the long journey here, and to orient to our new home. This field station’s set meal schedule (6 am, 12 noon, 6.30 pm) allows all the current station residents to meet. It is a great opportunity to learn about other exciting research going on here.
For my third visit to Peru, I am developing a system of long-term sampling plots distributed along an elevational transect from the lowland Amazon to the Andes, up to ~3500 m. I can select plots already established by botanists who have been working here for about 30 years. It is an uncommon ideal to have most of the plants known in a tropical habitat before I start looking for the herbivores of those plants.
We are finally in Peru for my third expedition. I visited alone previously to explore the diversity of chrysomelid leaf beetles and their host plants. During the first trip in 2007, I discovered how wonderful a field station can be, as opposed to expeditions involving daily travel from one campsite to another, hauling food, water, supplies, and, for me, tubs of live baby insects that I am trying to rear to adults before I run out of their food plant from the last site. (Baby insect systematics is so primitive that without the adult, I have no hope of identifying the species.)
Yesterday I got up early and hiked up into the hills outside of town with one of the professors. We found a beautiful pond at the top and were at last greeted with a view of the elusive Mallard. Still, it’s the first one of the trip. Yay! Then a pair of Phalaropes then came around the corner to smooth things over--that was a nice treat.
This morning getting up early to look for birds, this time down by the rapids at the bridge, proved sadly fruitless. Except there were rapids, which was in itself neat.
Morning in Kangerlussuaq was not much different from afternoon or evening—sun shining cheerfully away, temperatures of around fifty degrees, and a light wind keeping away the hungry swarms of Satan’s air force known colloquially as “mosquitoes”. I got up early so I could get a first crack at wildlife, Greenland-style. It turns out KISS is right on the Watson River, which was a lovely morning scramble down fine silt dunes and over glacier- and water-carved rocks. I got my first looks of the trip at Snow bunting, Common redpoll, and Northern wheatear.
This morning we woke up at 4 a.m. in Schenectady, New York, after an uneventful day of travel there from Kansas. The Air National Guard picked us up at the hotel and took us to the base. Once they had corralled all the scientists into a little room in a warehouse, they showed us the C-130 safety video. It turns out that the “Herc” comes equipped not only with flotation devices, but exposure suits for all passengers, full Arctic survival gear and something called an EPOS.
It’s finally starting to sink in that I am, in fact, leaving for Greenland on Tuesday. TUESDAY. GREENLAND. For the sake of you, the reader, as well as to drill the reality of what we are actually doing into my own head, here’s an introductory post.
Hannah Owens is an Ichthyology graduate student at the University of Kansas in the Biodiversity Institute. She is particularly interested in the role of climate change in the evolutionary history and biogeography of fishes, especially cods. Hannah will be travelling to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland for a week as part of KU’s Climate Change, Humans, and Nature in a Global Environment (C-CHANGE) National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) program. She and her fellow trainees (in diverse disciplines ranging from sociology and anth
Today is my birthday. It is also Linda Trueb’s birthday. I don’t know if she knows that we are birthday buddies.