(Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Mayaguez, 2011)These last two weeks at El Verde Field Station in the company of the Anolis lizards and our team have been a truly unforgettable experience! After what could have been a potentially awkward beginning (4 men and 1 woman – me, in an apartment, and the language differences between us), I quickly realized that this stay would be awesome, because, well… they are awesome! And that’s just the way it turned out to be.
We collected data on various species of endemic Anolis lizards, such as A. krugi, A. cristatellus, A. evermanni, A. gundlachi, A. stratulus, and A. pulchellus. Lizard catching also proved to be an enjoyable experience, where I learned that catching lizards with a noose isn’t as easy as it looks. Nevertheless, this made every success an opportunity to celebrate (victory dance included).
I really enjoyed learning to identify and spot the lizards, watch their behavior and their colorful dewlap displays, understanding how the different measurements were taken, and working as a team with Dr. Leal. It’s always a great feeling to know that you’re contributing to someone’s work, and I’m excited to see how the results turn out. For me, this experience has been an enlightening one, which I feel has ratified my interest to become a graduate student. I had been to the rainforest before, being from the Island, but going with people who were knowledgeable in every tree and bird species that we encountered gave me a different insight of the rainforest, and it helped me see and think about more than just its beauty. I’m extremely grateful for Manuel and Leo for giving me this opportunity to work beside them, and especially to Manuel for kindly answering my endless questions and for graciously dealing with my lack of cooking skills. I’ll truly miss the teasing, the morning singing, our outings, the interesting lizard conversations, and overall, some truly wonderful people who showed me what life in the field is all about and opened up my mind to new opportunities. I leave El Verde hoping that this isn’t an “adios”, but only an “hasta luego”! Buen viaje, amigos!