I have tried to document our field work in the Azores in an attempt to give people an insight into what it is like to do field science, explain a little of the reason why we do our research and also to give to show off one of the most beautiful and pristine series of Island in Europe – The Azores.
It is a great privilege to do this research in the Azores and it only made possible by a long term collaboration with Armindo (dos Santos Rodrigues), of the University of the Azores, who was Luis Cunha’s PhD Supervisor and has been our long term supporter, collaborator and friend.
However, like all field work the logistics that underpin getting the team to the locations, organising travel, accommodation and local guides takes an enormous level of coordination. In this particular instance this was all made much easier by the involvement of Jake Cardigan -email@example.com of Archipelago Choice – http://www.azoreschoice.com/. This company specialises in the Azores and if you have been inspired to visit the Islands then they will make all the arrangements for you from flights, local car rental, local guides/activities to some great accommodation – during the mad dash of field work not one logistical arrangement was out of alignment. Lastly, Archipelago Choice is a ‘old style’ personal travel agent – yes you can talk to a person and tell them what you want from a holiday and they will make sure you have an experience tailored to you. Finally, I want to stress travel to the Azores is fast (2-3 hours from UK) and relatively inexpensive (TAP ~£200 rtn low season, Easyjet coming this summer) visit the Islands and you will not regret it.
Next I have to make special mention of Tiago Fortuna (firstname.lastname@example.org) of Comunicar – www.comunicair.pt who made our afternoon in Terceira so special. Tiago and Comunicar run some amazing adventures on the Azores from Hot-air ballooning to night mountain biking – check out there facebook page for details http://www.facebook.com/comunicair/. These guys will turn a days hike into an adventure and a pack-lunch into a open air banquet – thanks Tiago.
It is a constant struggle to preserve the natural environment and the services it provides against economic and agricultural pressures. This is especially true in the Arizonian Islands where the indigenous fauna an flora act as a natural water reserve trapping the winters excess and releasing this slowly during the direr months. We were extremely fortunately to have the assistance of those in charge of the Islands National Parks, Luísa Brás and Paula Cordeiro on Terceira and Manuel Paulino Costa on Pico who were kind enough to assist us in our research.
Finally I must thank the sampling team: Luis Cunha who drives the research on the Azores, Iain Perry who is committed making his own research career studying adaptation to high altitudes and Joca without who’s energy and intimate knowledge of the Island we would all have been lost.