We are back from our second annual group retreat, held at the Biological Station of Ñacuñán Biosphere Reserve. Following the success of our first retreat last year, we decided to establish the group retreat as a yearly activity. The idea is to have a couple of days of close academic interaction in a quiet, remote setting surrounded by nature—the kind of place we ecologists love. And of course, to have fun together.
We were thirteen participants, including eleven members of our group in Mendoza and two visitors from Córdoba (Julia Tavella and Luciano Cagnolo). During the retreat, each of us gave a 15 min talk about either our own research or other ideas we wanted to share with the group, always with lots of time for questions and discussion, and generous breaks for informal interaction. We also did a hike to Ñacuñán’s sand dunes, which was a nice opportunity to revisit field sites for some of us, and to see a representative part of the reserve for others. In the evening of the first day, there was time for tabletop games, and, for the younger members of the group for whom sleeping doesn’t seem to figure among their bodily needs, dancing. During lunch before our return to the city, we had an interesting exchange with the Reserve’s park rangers.
The setting of the retreat was great. Ñacuñán is a 12,000 ha Man and Biosphere Reserve located in eastern Mendoza Province, at the heart of the Monte desert. Although it can be quite hot in the summer, the winter is usually cold in the nights but lovely during the daytime, especially if sunny. The biological station consists of two houses, one for the Park Rangers and one for researchers, and a meeting room, which is sometimes also used as lab.
All in all, it was a great experience that will surely instill us with renewed energy to continue doing great ecological research.