April 10, 2013, by Beca

Portugal Field Course: Take 1

Sat outside in the midday Portuguese sun it’s hard to believe that we’re actually here to do work. My current task in particular? Watching spiders in our homemade terratorium to see how and if they interact with one another – the fact these tanks are now outside was perhaps a winning move on our part in that now we get to enjoy it too.

I should perhaps explain, for once, I’m not running around with the UOTC/cadets, I am in fact doing some work while on a field course with the School of Biology. We’re at a lovely little field station just outside of Lisbon. The dorm I’m in consists of 8 mattresses on the bottom bunk (ie, floor) and 7 on the top so we’re all living out of suitcases and it can get a little hectic when you can’t find your hairbrush/deodorant/fleece/anything in particular you want at a given moment in time.

Course wise, I’m getting to know a rather cute species of spider very very well. The males are black but mature females can have a red, yellow or white abdomen. Unfortunately due to the lovely weather we’ve all experienced this year (ie, it’s been cold and rainy a lot longer than it should have been) we’ve not actually found any mature females so our planned experiment to do with sexual preference cannot go ahead =( . Instead day one was spent worrying about what we could do before finally decided to run an artificial environment based experiment to establish if these spiders show any form of territoriality. Day two we tried it and the darling spiders did not want to co-operate. One somehow managed to escape into the next tank while another ate the second spider. After all that we lost all our data due to a laptop Vs USB mix up. At least it was only one day’s worth.

I was going to add in some pretty pictures of life on the Quinta but I think the internet would combust if I tried so I’ll add a few when I get back and let you all know things have been updated 🙂

Day off soon, we’re going to Lisbon =D

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