‘Cold lizards project’ Finalé

Fieldwork for the ‘Cold lizards project’ concluded in September 2023 when I visited the home of the giant “daisies” in the paramos of northern Ecuador. These plants, known as Frailejones in Spanish, are members of the cosmopolitan sunflower family Asteraceae, and are the iconic plants dominating the windswept plains of El Angel Ecological Reserve. 

On the exploratory trip I took in November 2021, I was told that ‘El Voladero’ was a good area to find El Angel Whorltail-Iguana. However, upon our arrival, we discovered that the house where we planned to stay was unsafe, with cracks in the walls resulting from the earthquake that occurred in 2022. Therefore, we went to the ‘El Salado’, another checkpoint of El Angel Ecological Reserve. This checkpoint is close to a luxurious hotel named after the plant genus Polylepis, which would become our sampling site.

I was informed that capturing Stenocercus angel wouldn’t be easy, as they tend to hide among the spiny leaves of Puya plants when they feel threatened. However, the last two years of working with this lizard group have equipped me with the necessary skills to capture all the lizards of this species on my own. I also attributed my success to my volunteer and friend, Sebastián Mena, whose enthusiasm, and support were key factors in completing this fieldwork smoothly.

While heading back to ‘El Salado’ checkpoint, after a fruitful day of capturing lizards, we encountered unexpected traffic on the road. Later, we realized that the congestion was due to an event organized by local people to celebrate the town’s festivities. That afternoon, people gathered in a field to witness a competition that tested the skills of capturing a bull with a rope while riding a horse. Other events unfolded during that week, such as the extreme trucks competition, which I believe is unique to this town.

The fieldwork for the ‘Cold lizard project’ has ended; now it’s time to analyze all the collected data and spend days working in the office.

I hope to return to the mountains and be astonished by beautiful sights like the one in this photo

Estefany Guerra-Correa