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Marmots and St Mortiz

Day 5 -

Today, presentations were being given! Over the last two days all of the students from our field course had been busy collecting and collating their respective data, most had finished their analysis and were busy working away at their presentations in the morning. Myself and my team however, were a bit more stressed. Our analysis had gone quite wrong the evening before and, after having not much sleep were frantically programming in R (our analytical program) to try and identify some trends in our data. We managed to finish it by the skin of our teeth. While two did the analysis two did the presentation and we were all left with 10 minutes before our presentation to practice our individual parts. It went well (honestly, not sarcasm). The presentations were fantastic and we soon celebrated that portion of the field course being over with a visit up the funicular to Mouttas Morgul.

The view of St. Mortiz from Mouttas Morgue

Stuffed into a little tram like vehicle we made our way quite quickly up the side of the mountain to the alpine valley at the top. From there your eyes could follow the deep gouges in the mountains created by the glaciers from long ago. In the two valleys nestled before us were Pontresina and Sant Morits, along with a number of small lakes. From the top they looked almost as though they were small puddles of water. They stretched out in a line across the valley floor beautifully reflecting the sunshine.

We didn’t stay long at the mountain top due to transport times, but took the opportunity to discuss many of the ways animals here and elsewhere adopt social behaviour. Alpine Marmots were on the agenda, in particular their fascinating ways of maintaining warmth during the winter.

Alpine marmot in the grass

Hibernating groups with more older members helps to decrease infant mortality during the winter. With males around the outside and younger in the middle occasional activity helps to warm up the whole group. An interesting example of how delayed dispersal can actually increase offspring survival rather than decrease it.

cool paper( )

Soon though we were back down and on our way to the hostel, in order to celebrate the end of our amazing field course with some beach volleyball.


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