South Africa September – October 2019

I’ve almost spent two months in South Africa and will be heading back to Sweden tomorrow. To be back at KMP and work with the mole-rats, recapturing groups from last season has been so much fun. We have trapped colonies within the reserve and I have collected faeces samples from almost all animals that we have captured. Freezer has been filling up quickly and it is exciting to get started with a time series of samples from the same individuals! It has also been fascinating to go back to the Kalahari and see it at another season, much drier and definitely harder to dig trap sites. Luckily, I have had a great team with me this time again and together we have had so much fun in the lab and field.

team this season: Andreas, Megha, Daniël and me 🙂

In the end of my stay in South Africa I’ve been visiting Nigel Bennett’s research group at Pretoria University. Here I have had to chance to meet other species’ of mole-rats, included the naked mole-rats! Most likely the strangest animal I’ve seen so far in my life. I’m so thankful for the mobility award from Linnaeus University that I got earlier this year to give me the opportunity to come here and meet other researchers working with mole-rats.

Naked mole-rats!

3 weeks to next field season

Times flies. In three weeks I am back at KRR with a new field team ready to put the shovels into the red soil and recapture the mole-rats colonies from last season. Very exciting, as recaptures this season will give an idea about what microbiome questions we can ask and what samples to prioritise for sequencing. Fingers crossed we will get good replicates and nice spread of groups and individuals in different categories of interest!

Sometimes the holes for the traps are deeper than a meter. This one from last season was very successful; trapped lots of mole-rats here it was worth the exercise! – Photo Cred to Yannick Francioli

Before going south I will travel north to Finland and ESEB and present a poster about the ostrich gut microbiome work I did in Lund before staring my PhD. Feels like long time ago I worked at the ostrich farm but it is less than two years ago. I hope to be able to answer questions about ostriches at ESEB but there is a risk I’m too occupied thinking about next field season with the mole-rats…

SA 2016, first time at the ostrich farm, working on my master’s thesis

Update Summer 2019

It is about one and a half month to my next trip to KRR and working with the wild Damaraland mole-rats. Just yesterday I got the news that one of my field assistants got her visa to join and the field team are ready and set to go! Very exciting.

End on June I went the annual KRR meeting, this year hosted in Zürich. Me and my supervisor went by train from Sweden (have to try and compensate for all flights to South Africa somehow…) and stopped for a hike in the Alps the days before the meeting. Good thing I got at least some hiking dine this summer, all July I’ve been sitting at the office and August will be busy with ESEB and GENECO meeting before heading back to South Africa.

Time flies. More than 6 months of my PhD have already passed??????