martes, 30 de agosto de 2011

Into the primitive

In the frst chapter of his novel “Call of the wild”, Jack London wrote

“Old longings nomadic leap,

Chafing at custom's chain;

Again from its brumal sleep

Wakens the ferine strain”

Sometimes the rain forest could be an inhospitable site, other times could be seen as one of the most wonderful sites in the world. But never mind how horrible your last experience was in the rain forest, the call of the wild happens again. It is like a crouched animal, waiting the right moment to jump and capture the prey. Again, I wonder why I am here? Why always I chose this type of places? And most important, why my husband decided to follow me? This last questions is pretty easy to anwer, just for love. He is not interested in ants at all, and he doesn’t like being in the rain forest, where everything will bite, sting or puncture you or at least try to colonize your body in some way.

This time we went one week to National Park of El Rey (The King). This park is located at the province of Salta (poner figura del google), comprises 54,000 ha and was created in 1954 (to see more information about the park go to: poner dirección web del parque, only in spanish). My aim in this area was to sample part of the biodiversity of epigeic and hipogeic ants. We worked at three transects of 100m, located 2.5km far away from each one, at different altitudes. Every 10m we applied four different sampling methods: hand collection, baits (tuna, honey and corn flakes), baited probes (I love this method) and winkler.

Walking to the sampling site, the name of the trail is Chorro de los Loros. Once at the beginning of the trail I started taking the gps points. 

Sampling ants from rotten wood. In this case I was sampling a Pachyconyla nest.

An individual of Pachycondyla sp. carrying a pupa.
Unfortunatelly between November and March the rain period occurs in this area and this made thing pretty difficult. Specially in relation with the sampling ants using Winkler’s method. This method is particulary suitable for extracting ants from the litter. However, the litter should not be too much wet or too much dry. Never mind let’s see at the laboratoty what we have sampled. Every day thousands of ticks tried to colonize our body, some were succesfull for a few hours. At the evening, hundreds of gnats sucked our blood (little vampire) even inside the house (they managed to pass through window's nets). Pablo had an anaphylactic reaction because of the bites and he should inyect himself with antihistamines (how brave!!)

 Here is Pablo shigting litter from the sides of the trail.

This is he with his lovely machete and a detail of all the bites of his legs :(