On the Tetra's trail Dans le sillage des AstyanaxLevels 3 and 4

Study the mystery of evolution in the luscious Mexican valleys! Further Details

On the Tetra's trail Dans le sillage des AstyanaxLevels 3 and 4

Study the mystery of evolution in the luscious Mexican valleys! Further Details

Get involved with incredible scientific projects!
Science camps which could change the world!
Exceptional adventures and real projects for sustainable development

Introduction

New stay in development! This description will be updated as the project becomes more exact. First departure scheduled for this winter 2017 !

Take a trip to the heart of the Mexican mountains to discover mysterious small cave-dwelling fishes, and take part in a research program Research Program Collaborate with scientific organizations. Actively take part in participative science research programs. All this is possible with our plankton discovery sailing expedition. by collecting scientific data from the rivers or caves in which these unusual fish hide. Swimming and caving will be abundant.

The stay

Have you heard of the Astyanax mexicanus (Mexican Tetra)? These little fish generally live in the rivers of Mexico and the south of Texas. But not always! Some time ago, a part of the population tumbled down into the caves and evolved independently in the darkness of their surroundings. Thus, while these fish are very common on the surface of the water, there are only twenty-nine cave-dwelling populations of these fish known to us.
Furthermore, these cavernous fish are morphologically completely different and behave differently: they no longer have eyes, have become depigmented, have a large mouth and a different body, etc.

The existence of a common ancestor for the two subspecies allows us to compare the surface and cavernous populations, and therefore to study the evolution and adaptation of an extremophilic subspecies to its new environment, that is to say, living in conditions that are deadly for the majority of living organisms.
These cavernous fish are thus extraordinary models for many areas of biology, including medicine, genetics, developmental biology, neuroscience, behavioral science Science La science est désormais l’affaire de tous. Découvrez la science d’une manière ludique et active. Nous vous proposons d’en découvrir plus sur nos expéditions à la voile, découverte du plancton. , population biology and many more!

The research project

The objective of this program is to study the ecology and behavior of the cavernous Astyanax mexicanus in their natural habitat.

Complying with the line of study of this scientific program, here is a list of the research activities on which you will be potentially working, depending on requirements:
-  Knowledge of the fish’s environment and the seasonal changes
-  Nutritional habits of the fish (quality, quantity)
-  Olfactory capacity of the fish
-  Reproduction (gonado-somatic ration, maturation of gametes, size, weight)
-  Morphological variation in the various populations
-  Genetics of the populations and phylogeography (DNA sample analysis)
-  Demography (capture-recapture method)
-  Behavior in situ (video recording with possible use of drones)

This will be translated in the field by data-type manipulations on water, fauna, flora, physico-chemical analyses, DNA surveys (non-invasive method), specific experiments in natural pools or swimming pools placed directly on the ground, use of drones for recognition, video recordings and cartography. The protocols used are those provided by the CNRS laboratories with whom the Tetra program collaborates.

All our studies will be non-invasive. It is one of the basic principles of the program.
The data collected in the field will be usable by the entire Astyanax mexicanus research community with particular attention to the ‘Evolution Génomes Comportement Ecologie’ et l’Institut des Neurosciences Paris-Saclay laboratories located in Gif sur Yvette, not far from Paris. The analysis of the data you have collected will be done in collaboration with them.

Finally, your participation on this program will allow researchers to have a longitudinal monitoring on the data collected. Through this expedition based on the principle of participatory science, you will be able to offer the research community a volume of data that they are unable to harvest themselves.

L’objectif de ce programme est d’étudier l’écologie et le comportement des Astyanax mexicanus cavernicoles dans leur milieu naturel.

Respectant les axes de l’étude du programme scientifique, voici une liste des activités de recherches sur lesquels vous serez amené à travailler selon les besoins :
-  Connaissance de l’environnement des poissons et ses changements saisonniers
-  Habitude de nutrition des poissons (quantité, qualité)
-  Capacité d’olfaction de ces poissons
-  Reproduction (ratio gonado-somatique, maturation des gamètes, taille, poids)
-  Variation de la morphologie dans des populations variées
-  Génétique des populations et phylogéographie (analyse d’échantillon ADN)
-  Démographie (méthode capture-recapture)
-  Comportement in situ (enregistrement vidéo avec éventuellement usage de drones)

Cela se traduira sur le terrain par des manipulations de type relevés de données sur l’eau, sur la faune, sur la flore, analyses physico-chimiques, relevés d’ADN (méthode non-invasive), expériences spécifiques dans les bassins naturels ou des piscines directement sur le terrain, utilisation de drones pour la reconnaissance, enregistrements vidéos et cartographie. Les protocoles utilisés seront ceux fournis par les laboratoires du CNRS avec lesquels le programme Astyanax collabore.

Toutes les études seront non invasives. C’est un des principes de base du programme.
Les données récoltées sur le terrain seront utilisables par toute la communauté de recherche sur les Astyanax mexicanus avec une collaboration plus particulière avec les laboratoires ‘Evolution Génomes Comportement Ecologie’ et l’Institut des Neurosciences Paris-Saclay implantés à Gif sur Yvette, près de Paris. L’analyse des données que vous aurez collectées sera réalisée en collaboration avec ces derniers.

Votre participation à ce programme pourra enfin permettre aux chercheurs d’avoir un suivi longitudinal sur les données collectées. Par cette expédition basée sur le principe de la science participative, vous allez pouvoir offrir à la communauté de recherche un volume de données qu’ils sont dans l’incapacité de récolter eux-mêmes.

Concepts Learned during the Camp

Population Biology - Biodiversity - Ichthyology - Evolution - Adaptation - Genetics - Conservation - Ethology - Ecosystems - Sampling - Non-Invasive Sampling - Counting - Computing - Problem-solving

Biologie des populations - Biodiversité - Ichtyologie - Évolution - Adaptation - Génétique - Conservation - Éthologie - Écosystèmes - Échantillonnage - Prélèvement non invasifs - Comptage - Informatique - Débrouillardise

Equipment Used

Nets - String Bags - Sensors - Drones - Acoustic and Video Equipment - Portable Pools and Aquariums - Masks - Helmets - Infrared Cameras - Infrared Lamps - Raspberry Pi - Computers - Precision balances - Portable Spectrometers

Épuisettes - Filets - Capteurs - Drones - Équipements vidéo et acoustique - Piscines et aquariums portatifs - Masques - Casques - Caméras infra-rouge - Lampes infra-rouge - Raspberry pie - Ordinateurs - Balances de précision - Spectromètres portatifs

The location

In the centre of the luscious dry tropical vegetation of the mountains in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi are the caverns and rivers in which these mysterious little fish live.
Beautiful landscapes, a rich and surprising biodiversity, unforgettable encounters, that’s what awaits you in this remote and mysterious region!

Far from the tourist infrastructures, you will plunge into the heart of a country with rich and fascinating cultures and traditions.

With the dry season extending from October to April, you will find yourselves a far cry from the European winter you’re used to. A dry and sunny climate awaits, without being too hot. An ideal time for surveying the hills, villages, rivers and caves!

Ten stations for field experiments were chosen by the researchers of the CNRS, five for surface fish, five for the cavernous. A station is an area with a homogenous environment and where evolutionary history is sufficiently clear and distinctive to justify its selection. Of these, the stations chosen for the expeditions are those not at risk.

Au milieu de la verdoyante végétation tropicale sèche des montagnes de l’état mexicain de San Luis Potosi sont cachées les cavernes et les rivières dans lesquels vivent nos mystérieux petits poissons.
Des paysages magnifiques, un biodiversité riche et étonnante, des rencontres inoubliables, voilà ce qui vous attends dans cette lointaine et mystérieuse contrée !

Loin des infrastructures touristiques, vous plongerez au cœur d’un pays aux traditions et à la culture riche et passionnante.

Pa ailleurs, la saison sèche s’étendant d’octobre à avril, vous trouverez loin de l’hiver européen un climat sec et ensoleillé sans être pour autant trop chaud. Soit le temps idéal pour arpenter les collines, villages, rivières et grottes !

Dix stations pour les expériences de terrains ont été choisies par les chercheurs du CNRS, cinq pour les poissons de surface et cinq pour les cavernicoles. Une station est une zone dont l’environnement est homogène et l’histoire évolutionnaire est suffisamment claire et distinctive pour justifier le choix. Parmi ces dernières, les stations choisies pour les expéditions ne sont pas en zone à risques.

Day to day proceedings

Out in the field, the days will be dedicated to work in the caves or rivers depending on the scientific needs and the weather. You will go to the site in question in the morning where you will spend the day carrying out science experiments and practical work in a happy atmosphere.

Between each field site, discovery days will take place to enjoy the aquatic wonders (waterfalls, rivers, natural pools), panoramas and the wealth of Mexican culture.

ATTENTION : In order to participate in this expedition, it is important that you are in good physical health, know how to swim, and do not suffer from claustrophobia, nyctophobia, ichthyophobia, aquaphobia or from another affliction related to water and caves. No additional training in speleology (caving) is necessary. Safety during these activities will be ensured by a qualified instructor.
Moreover, certain caves are inhabited by fungi, sometimes giving histoplamosis without respiratory protection. For this reason, protective masks will be provided and must be worn in all the caves and must not be taken off under any circumstances. No problems have been noted in participants wearing these masks.

Sur place, les journées seront consacrées au travail de terrain en grotte ou en rivière selon les besoins scientifiques et la météo. Vous vous rendrez le matin sur le site en question où vous passerez la journée à réaliser manipulations et expériences scientifiques dans la joie et la bonne humeur.

Entre chaque site de terrain, des journées de découverte auront lieu afin de profiter des merveilles aquatiques (chutes, rivières, bassins naturels), des panoramas et de la richesse de la culture mexicaine.

ATTENTION : Pour participer à cette expédition il est important d’avoir une bonne condition physique, de savoir nager et de ne pas souffrir de claustrophobie, de nyctophobie, d’ichthyophobie, d’aquaphobie ou de quelconque affliction empêchant de s’approcher de l’eau et des cavernes. Aucune compétence complémentaire en spéléologie n’est demandée. La sécurité durant ces activités sera assurée par un encadrant qualifié.
Par ailleurs, certaines grottes sont peuplées de champignons donnant quelques fois l’histoplasmose sans protection respiratoire. Pour cette raison, des masques de protections à porter obligatoirement dans toutes les grottes seront fourni et à n’enlever sous aucun prétexte. Aucun problème n’a été détecté avec le port du masque.

The team


Julie Rode is co-supervisor of the Astyanax(ion) Research Program. Committed “Pantherist”, the study of this big feline will have made her discover - in addition to an infinite number of other things! - the wonders of population genetics. Trained in basic physics, she is currently working in ecology, on the study and modelling of ecosystems.


Stéphane Rode is co-supervisor of the Astyanax(tion) Research Program. Also a committed “pantherist”, he loves adventure, nature and research. He has a number of expeditions around the world to his name and organises them to enable him in sharing his passions with the world.

During your stay, you will also have the opportunity to meet one of the members of the CNRS teams of the EGCE and Neuro-PSI laboratories located in Giv-sur-Yvette, while working on the Astyanax Mexicanus.

Accomodation

It will take place in one or more hotels or guest houses near the caves in the vicinity of Ciudad Valles, usually in the form of double or triple rooms.

Reviews

Day to Day Schedule

Here is the typical breakdown of a stay, it will, however, be adjusted according to the period, weather and scientific needs.

Day 0: For participants flying to Paris, the meeting will take place in the morning at CNRS Gif-sur-Yvette to become familiar with the protocols that will be used on site. The whole team will then go together to the airport to catch the plane in the evening. For those who are unable to get there, the protocols will be sent so that you can get acquainted with before leaving for this fabulous adventure!
Day 1: Arrive in Mexico City, travel to the first city stop-off, settling in and adaptation to Mexican culture
Days 2 and 3: Field work in the first cave or river
Day 4: Discovery day of the region and/or rest
Days 5 and 6: Field work in the second cave or river
Day 7: Day of discovery of the region and/or rest
Days 8 and 9: Field work in the third cave or river
Day 10: Day of discovery of the region and/or rest
Days 11 and 12: Field work in the fourth cave or river
Day 13: Day of discovery of the region and/or rest
Day 14: Return to Mexico City then plane to Paris

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