I’m finally seeing bats flying around here at dusk in Germany, and for the first time I’m missing Panama a bit. But it’s not that I don’t like Panama, I just love where I am now! I’ve been trying to make the most of my time here, and that’s my excuse for not writing a blogpost in awhile. More research results to report soon. In the meantime, here are some pretty pictures.
The last two years, I was in Rachel Page’s Lab at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Gamboa, a small town on the middle of the Panama Canal, at the center of the skinniest bit of the isthmus connecting North and South America. In the Canal Zone in Panama, you can drive from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean in one hour.
There were free-tailed bats living in the broken air-conditioning unit in our bedroom, and tent-making bats above our back door. On some days, the Gamboa titi monkeys (Geoffrey’s Tamarins) would stop by and we could feed them bananas. Samuel Diaz Munoz did his PhD on this population studying their fascinating system of cooperative breeding. A female mates with two or more males, and the males cooperate in caring for the young and carry them everywhere on their back.
There was a new species of free-tailed bat discovered in Gamboa. Here’s a picture we took of one.
This November I came to the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology to join Damien Farine’s lab in Möggingen, which is a tiny adorable village on the outskirts of Radolfzell, which is a lovely small town near Konstanz, which is beautiful small college town, which is next to the very scenic Lake Konstanz, which is on the German border with Switzerland. That means we can see some of the Alps!
Möggingen is really quaint and bucolic. This is the very modern main institute building. Inside there’s a two-story indoor bird cage.
Most of the Department of Collective Behavior (including the groups of Iain Couzin and Alex Jordan) are in Konstanz. But Martin Wikelski, Dina Dechmann, Kamran Safi, and Lucy Aplin are all people whose work I know about that are based here, just down the road. The research being done here is awe-inspiring:
I work in this building straight out of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, called ‘the mill’.
We are right next to a small pond and a castle. (There ain’t no medieval castles where I’m from).
Living here and working in Damien’s lab has been fantastic. Last week, our lab had a get-together to say goodbye to MSc student James and celebrate him defending his Masters and being accepted to doing a PhD.