So sloth is certainly not one of the deadly sins exhibited this week! So what else could my biblical referenced title be about?
This week the project was joined by Dr Christian Cox and 2 masters students from his lab (www.coxevolab.org), who came here to help the establishment of the Panama project. With their arrival the project began in earnest! After assuming the lizards we were after (Anolis apletophallus) were hugely abundant we erroneously assumed that we could catch 100 in a day relatively easily. Now we know that they are abundant, BUT they are also hugely cryptic (camouflaged) and very small so its very difficult to see them especially when you factor in the dynamic and complex jungle ecosystem. So we are now catching about 60-80 over two days and it's quite a lot of work. So that was a kick in the teeth a little, not as bad as day one where it took us two hours to find 3. I was f-ing and blinding that day, assuming my PhD was sunk already. Fortunately you begin to develop a "search image", which is kind of like your brain filtering out background visual noise and making it easy to see the specific shape or pattern of the thing you are looking for. This makes it easier to spot them and our numbers began to climb up and hopefully will continue to do so. On day one of lizard collection we also managed to see something many people who spend months in the jungle do not... A jaguar! No, I joke. We were not that lucky. But we did see a sloth! Ok, not fast moving but its a greyish/brown/ greenish animal in a greyish/brownish/greenish forest and it normally spends 99% of its time in the canopy. Most of the last few days have been spent ferociously hunting for lizards and then meticulously measuring them, doing temperature trials on then and marking them ready for release. Not too complicated right? Well we spent nearly 12 hours in the lab one day and I was there for an extra 3 to finish up, getting home around midnight.There are a fair few teething problems in the first week as this is a brand new project. So hopefully there won't be too many days like that. But I have definitely taken one thing away from these few days, don't underestimate teething problems! But we have managed to get one island populated with lizards!
Another notable thing to mention was the night hike, a nice foray into the jungle to search for nocturnal beasts. Which was a success! We saw hundreds of frogs including one of my new favorites the Gladiator Tree frog and one animal I have really wanted to see for years; the Kinkajou! He was waiting for us right next to the car when we returned. Pretty good side dish of glamour to our long hours of monotony right?
Notable Animal Sightings:
Three Toed Sloth (Bradypus variegatus)
Capuchin Monkeys (Cebus capucinus)
Spectacled Caiman (Caiman crocodilus)
Gladiator Tree Frog (Hypsiboas rosenbergi)
Gaudy Leaf Frog (Agalychnis callidryas)
Kinkajou (Potos flavus)
Geoffrey's Tamarin (Saguinus geoffroyi)