The difficulties of a scientist in the Pyrenees

A researcher in the functional ecology and environment laboratory in Toulouse, inside the Ecolab, Adeline Loyau has been researching the Pyrenean massif for ten years. Summits he happily crosses to examine the environment and its evolutions or dysfunctions. From his experiences, he drew a book, “The tribulations of a scientist in the mountains”.

Amphibians propel you to this massif …

Together with Dirk (Schmeller, his study partner), we looked at chytridiomycosis, a disease caused by a fungus, of which we know very little other than that it represents a major source of concern for batrachians. , especially the alyte, or midwife toad, also called cluque or cluquet in patois. We saw outbreaks in Lescun (64) then in Néouvielle where the alyte population collapsed. But for two years, we were accompanied by rabbis in Néouvielle of shy individuals who were re -filling the places. When I saw the tadpole, my tears flowed!

It’s hard to imagine scientists moving …

The researcher must be logical, unreliable. It’s not talking about failures, denials. But I am not ashamed to speak about my feelings, my joys, my disappointments, my amazement at nature.

Amphibians, expand your research …

It quickly affected the entire ecosystem. To understand what is happening to the batrachians, it is necessary to understand the whole environment, people, animals, climate, water and pollution. Even in these more secluded places, you can’t get away from everything around …

Why do you want to write this story?

When we go to the field with Dirk, we meet hikers, tourists, fishermen watching us taking our samples. Often they start the discussion. They are very caring, interested and curious, with a desire to know and get involved. Often their information, their experience enriches us. They told us we should talk more. After twenty years of research, we often write in English, for an audience of insiders. We do theses that represent a massive investment but will be read by two people. I wanted it to be useful, not moralizing but rather playful.

Where did the idea of ​​starting with anecdotes from the field come from?

First because it is not said in scientific publications and then it allows you to learn while having fun. This allows us to approach the daily life of a researcher for ten years. How we work together on a research project, how we evaluate our hypotheses, our trial and error, the surprises that also happen to us, as well as the mistakes, the problems. We need to clean up new universes. When you answer a question, it opens up much more …

You feel you enjoyed the Pyrenees The Pyrenees is a truly friendly context, with real unity. We are part of the same club with the mountaineers. In shelters, bonds are created. People are open, sociable, curious about the changes this space can experience. Not everything has to be rosy …

There are also some rare conflict situations. Some smile at you, like when my ass refused to move, forcing me to carry over 22 liters of water taken from my back. Others were less like when drunk individuals took us while we were curing, using our cotton swab, the DNA of tadpoles in a washhouse. They told us it was a waste of money. There was also a fishing warden who, despite all our authorizations, systematically asked us for a fishing permit, even though we were only taking plankton. It formed crowds of hikers and tourists who separated the two camps. It ended up in order. But still very anecdotal …

“The tribulations of a scientist in the mountains” by Adeline Loyau, published by Glénat.

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