Monday, October 13, 2008

Back to the grindstone....

Prepared October 13, 2008

Well, I made it back to the United States with all of my samples in tow. All the permits came through, my luggage made it, and I’m in one piece. I’d say it was a success! As always, field work has its ups and downs, frustrations and successes. But I’m coming home with good data and lots of memories. Now comes the other side of the research coin—taking all of this information that I collected and making sense of it. I’ll be working on data analysis and writing for the next year or two. I’ll be sure to post some updates as I get a clearer picture about lemur health in Madagascar.

Thanks to anyone who kept up with my activities this summer—I really appreciate your interest! I’ll be heading back to Madagascar in April to do more capture, this time focusing on the larger lemurs.
That means Indri, so if you’re interested in their teddy-bear looks and unique, erie song, be sure to tune back in.



A little time for exploring…..

Prepared September 17, 2008

After a long hard stint in the field, all I want to do is......sit in a 4x4 for 10 hours on a bumpy road. I know, sounds crazy. But this is actually a little vacation for me now. I just finished my field work for the summer and I’m going to take a little tourist excursion to the Grand Tsingy, a beautiful and unique limestone outcropping north of Morondova about 10 hours. Sharp limestone pinnacles as far as the eye can see, labyrinths and caverns to explore—it’s a beautiful spot.

Secret of our success

Prepared September 7, 2008

Nothing scientific about this folks—mouse lemurs love bananas. Crave bananas. Will even follow the scent of bananas into a strange metallic box, spend the night, live amongst large primates for 12 hours (i.e. us) and then come back for more the next day. Here’s a glimpse into the love of Microcebus for their fragrant fruit. I appreciate the fruit as well, because it made all of our captures possible.

Taste the rainbow....a food montage

Prepared September 8, 2008

As food structures the day around here, I thought I would share with you what a typical day in the life of food at Kirindy Mitea is like.

Breakfast, 6:30 am, Varysosoa, (soupy rice) with roasted peanuts

Lunch, 12 pm, Vary (rice) with loaka (anything that goes with rice…usually beans around here)

Dinner, 6:30 pm, you guessed it—leftovers of what we had for lunch!

It’s hard to forget. I’ve found that with ample amounts of garlic powder, parmesan cheese and Dijon mustard, anything tastes good!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Microcebus Super-Sleuths

Prepared September 5, 2008

It seems as though there are new Microcebus species popping up every week….what once had been defined as an eastern and a western species now has been amended to include several species. This has caused some ongoing controversy as scientists debate which species should be considered separate and which should not. But the DNA will tell the tale—that’s why we’re sure to collect small samples of skin to use for genetic analyses. In addition to this data, we’re also noting all the variations in color and size that we see in the mouse lemurs. Armed with this combination of information, we hope to figure out the complex mystery that is mouse lemur speciation in Madagascar.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Boom & Bust

Prepared September 1, 2008

I don’t know if field work attracts gambling personalities, but it sure seems like that would be helpful to deal with the constant unknown of capture—so much is out of your control. It’s like I buy a Keno ticket every night when we put out our traps, and sometimes our numbers come up. That’s just one of things that keeps life interesting around here. If only I could make money doing this! Just to give you an example of how unpredictable capture can be—in one week we had a few days in a row of no mouse lemurs captured—0 (see my disappointment in the photo to the right). Then the next day we were overrun with mouse lemurs, capturing 10 in one of the grids (see jubilation below). I think they just like to keep us guessing.