Sunday, March 15, 2009

Let the Field Season Begin!

It's mid-March in sunny central California, and that means two things: reptiles and mayhem at Chimineas! Last weekend we had the first annual PERL field season kick-off party. Friends were in from out of town, many new students have joined the lab, and our favorite hormone testosterone is in the air (lizard and rattlesnake testosterone, that is), so we thought it right to celebrate. So PERL hosted a weekend event attended by about 35 people, with some snake-tracking, hiking, and evening festivities.

My students took people out radiotracking snakes, and looking for new ones. Only males were out! We found some out basking, like this one:

And some were peeking from under rocks but unattainable:

And some we managed to yank from under the rocks:

Jordan, an undergraduate in the lab, demonstrating perfect snake-tubing form:

A favorite spot for Western pond turtles:

Matt, a prospective grad student lucky to be visiting during the festivities, holding a turtle:

For the evening festivities, each student in PERL (plus some visitors) gave 5-minute presentations on their research. Here's the crowd:

My grad student Nick doing his presentation. Yes, that's a bull with a hat glued to it in the photo. We've switched from horses to cattle (and rabbits) as tick-breeding fodder.

And here are two undergraduates in the lab, Stephen and Ben, presenting their research. Yes, those are lizard tails sticking out of ice.

Now for the real fun:

The infamous hot tub:

And finally, it wouldn't be a party if Cosmo didn't join in the fun: