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February 16, 2012 – The Plant Hunters

February 17, 2012

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Today, our group went on a 3 hour hike in search of plant specimens.  We ascended a steeply inclined mountain east of our base camp, climbing 300 metres to reach a beautiful lookout point.  We stopped here to snap photos of our group and surrounding landscape.  The prominent cliff in the background serves as a landmark for our camp and has been affectionately titled ‘pride rock’.  The arid valley between us and pride rock is where we have studied other microhabitats, and included such activities as bird watching and lizard hunting.

During our hike, we acquired 14 plant samples including the striking orange flower (Mutisia decurrens).

We also saw many small lizards (Liolaemus) and a pair of Chilean flickers (Colaptes pitius).  Our descent from the ridge down to base camp brought us through a variety of microhabitats covering isolated areas of the slope.  Over the course of about 1.5 kilometres, we hiked through shrubs, thickets and pine forests before arriving in the horse pasture near our base camp.  As we approached our camp, groups of horses greeted us on their way to graze at the foot of the mountain.

This rugged trek turned out to be our group’s most memorable experience at Estancia El Desafío!  It was especially interesting to see the lush pine forests contrasted against the nearby barren steppes we traversed in the days prior.  This particular area of Argentine Patagonia stands out because of its rocky ridges, dusty valleys and mosaic of microhabitats hosting flora and fauna of many varieties and densities.

Group 4: The Biologists (Scientificus comicus)
Dante Diotallevi, Heidi Geyer, Howard Kuang, Ron Lau

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