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I’m gonna need to breeze through these few days. To sum it up, Cuerici was a tough time.  Pretty stressful. We were all rushed in collecting data for our projects; now we only had 4 days for the whole process.

My group was looking at a species of beetle that bores into bamboo stalks.  It had only recently been described, so relatively little was known about it.  But our project wasn’t about the beetle itself….just this past year, a species of nematode had been discovered within this beetle.  Literally nothing was known about the nematode, and it could be a new species.  So we were looking at….well, a lot of things.  And it sorta changed throughout data collection and writing the paper.  But mainly, we wanted to understand the distribution of nematodes between beetles — how many nematodes per beetle, how many beetles were infected, etc.

The field work for this project was pretty fun though.  Slicing down dozens and dozens of bamboo stalks with hedgeclippers and a machete. But carrying hundreds of pounds of bamboo back the the station — less fun.

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Teamwork is crucial in the field.

 

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Jalen thoroughly enjoyed use of the machete.  The rest of us were terrified of him with it.

 

It ended up being a super stressful and drawn-out process, and it took forever to write.  We created a model that simulated a random distribution of nematodes in beetles in a virtual forest of bamboo, to compare to our data and see if nematodes are aggregated in specific beetles.  In a word, they were.

 

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Just a fraction of the many stalk segments we split open to find beetles.

There was one great moment from those last couple of days at Cuerici.  One morning, a handful of us woke up at 5:30am to go see the sun rise over the valley.  It was one of the few moments in the past couple weeks that I had spent a peaceful moment with others, not doing science.  Just enjoying the beauty of life.

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Robbie and I decided to toss some discs off into the beyond.

 

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Tara and Ryan took great satisfaction in burning off all the bamboo my group had split open.  I sure as hell enjoyed watching all it burn too.

 

 

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The last day at Cuerici was highly anticipated.  We started our hike out at 6:30 in the morn — our bus was supposedly leaving at 8am sharp, and so we needed to book it.  It was steep uphill the whole time, and some needed to be picked up by the gear truck.

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Slowly, each person was picked off, and the truck would drive by me full of tired hikers — but I was too stubborn to receive help.  And so for the last 200 meters, the truck drove beside me as I huffed and puffed up the last stretch.  Rounding the last corner, I panted onto the bus, and promptly passed out.  Away we go again.

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