Today is day three in New Mexico!! The last two days were spent securing shade cloth above the enclosures that the experiment will be taking place in. There are nine 20 meter by 20 meter enclosures that have a series of cables crisscrossed above them. Mesh shade cloth of varying weaves are secured so that there are enclosures with one large patch of shade, 4 medium patches and 16 small patches. The varying arrangements of the shade patches adds up to be the same amount of shade for each enclosure. This constant makes it so that conclusions can be drawn as to whether a certain patch structure enables more accurate thermoregulation for the lizards. Some of the enclosures have additional cloth covering the entire enclosure so that the lizards are never exposed to the direct sunlight. These enclosures provide a cooler environment to compare the full sun enclosures to.
Now that the enclosures are erected, the experiment can begin. Last night we placed the first set of lizards in the enclosures, one each. This morning we monitored their movement from 8am until about 1pm. It is surprisingly difficult to find a lizard when staring at a 20 x20 meter enclosure (I am pretty sure there is a learning curve for spotting them quicker) Around one there were some impressive clouds moving in and since the experiment relies on the shade clothe to be casting a shadow, without the sun the experiment can not continue.
The weather here in the desert has been the most surprising part of the experience. Being form the east coast, I am not used to being able to look out the window and see for miles. Out here you can quite literally see the weather coming. This is nice since you can tell when to wrap things up as opposed to getting caught in a storm of guard. Attached are some beautiful pictures of the surrounding area, the weather and the land around the field site!!! I hope you enjoy them like I do!!!!!! (the last one has a rainbow!!)