The cold lizard project begins

THE ABG commenced a new research project in 2021 based at the Ecuadorean Andes . This study is mainly focused on exploring the thermal ecology of six closely related species of whorl-tail iguanas, Stenocercus genus, that inhabit montane ecosystems. For each studied population, we plan to examine aspects of their thermal behaviour, physiology, as well as climate variables of their habitat.

On October 2021, we visited El Gullan Scientific Station, owned by Universidad del Azuay, to perform the first fieldwork of this project. This study site is characterized by pine plantations, pastures, crops and areas of natural vegetation. Given that it is located higher than 2500 m above sea level, the air temperature fluctuates from an average minimum of 6°C to a maximum of 15°C, and fogs and cold winds are commonly present.

In this area occurs Stenocercus festae, Peracca’s whorltail iguana, a species that is under the vulnerable category of IUCN due the continuing decline of its habitat quality. This species is endemic of the Andes of southern Ecuador and is frequently found at the base of small bushes or nags.

The keeper of El Gullan is a lovely and hard-worker local woman whose name is Rosita. She is the one that takes care of the alpacas, sheep and guinea pigs that live in the station. One day, while we were working, she surprised us with her unique homemade bread cooked in a wood oven. This is a family tradition when her son travels from Quito to visit her. Our happy faces are evidence that it was a delight!

This ecosystem shows an impressive biodiversity of fauna and flora, and here we show you a glimpse of what you could find besides lizards.

Finally, we leave you with this amazing sunset from the station viewpoint and invite you to stay tuned for more updates of Cold lizard project.