What manner of creature?

Yesterday, we took one of the ever-present white toyota trucks that whiz around Puerto Ayora up to a potential field site. These trucks act as taxis and I wonder if shipment of toyotas fell off a shipping container in the pacific and washed up on shore in the Galapagos (much like most of the creatures here). Anyhow, scoping out the field site for potential finch sightings, we stumbled across this interesting creature.

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 I will allow the comments to see if you can guess as to what it is. Remember, there are no known venomous snakes in the Galapagos. This creature is about 5 inches long.

I wish I were an iguana!

Ok…We finally arrived at Charles Darwin Research Station.  Long day yesterday and after many buses, dragging suitcases and equipment through the heat we arrived close to the station and park entrance.  Only to find out that EVERYONE is at lunch.  Including the iguanas.

So, while waiting in the sun for the officials to come back and help us with our accommodation (etc.) I snapped a thermal image from the water.

Here is a marine iguana soaking up the sun’s rays.  Skin temperatures of 45C.  This is how I will be over the next month.  Scorching and sunburnt!

Blog entries will be sporadic.  I think I managed to upload this image because the whole island just left for lunch and so the internet isn’t swamped.

Anyhow!  Enjoy!

Arrival in Ecuador!

 Well, the first leg of the trip is over.  We arrived in Guayaquil late Monday evening.  I had no trouble with immigration, although I may have received a marriage proposal from the immigration officer.  Or at least she warned me not to fall in love in (or with?) Ecuador.  

Our taxi driver/hotel seemed to be confused. We booked a hotel at the lovely Guayaquil Suites Hotel.  Always be suspicious about something called ‘suites’.  Lovely place once we arrived (sweating and hauling our equipment laden suitcases), but it looked more like someone’s apartment/spare rooms than a hotel! 
Sorry for no photos.  Internet connection here requires patience, which I seem to lack when the weather is hot and the sweat is pouring off me.  

It’s official! We’re going to the Galapagos!!

It has been over a year in the making, and at times I was not sure it would happen at all, but we finally got our tickets to head to Galapagos.  I am using this as an excuse perhaps to start putting some effort into this blog.

Here’s the context.  Back in 2009, I published a paper on the role of the bill of the toucan as a ‘radiator of body heat’ (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/325/5939/468.abstract).  Meanwhile, Russ Greenberg and his student/post-doc, Ray Danner were working on Song Sparrow ecology and bill size.  After reading my paper and contacting me, we started sharing ideas and Russ began to develop questions examining how bills of his birds may be shaped by their environment (temperature, water availability).

Anyhow, long story short….this led to Russ and Ray collaborating with my lab via my student, Viviana Cadena who spent a couple of months in Ray’s lab working on heat loss parameters in song sparrows.  (see below).

Figure 1. Infrared images of eastern and Atlantic song sparrows.

This work with sparrows showed that the bill in these birds can represent up to ~9% of resting body heat loss.

Last year, along with Russ, Ray and Viviana, we submitted a grant to the National Geographic Society to go to the Galapagos to test our research questions in Darwin’s Finches.  I won’t go into those details yet, but perhaps future blogs will shed some light.

Anyhow, heading out on Monday and will be away for a month.  Let’s hope we don’t have any trouble getting there!

For a summary of this work, here is a great blog from Jack Dumbacher.