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  • My Life at IHB - Iago Sanmartín-Villar
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    Iago Sanmartín-Villar
    PhD student of the Laboratory of Evolutionary and Conservation Ecology of the University of Vigo (Spain)

    An experience studying the Chinese damselflies 

    “It is a big country rich in biodiversity with interesting topics ready to study and to discover” said my supervisor, Adolfo Cordero-Rivera (University of Vigo, Spain), after his stay in China. To a PhD student focused in the study of the colour morphotypes and the behaviour of the damselflies as me, this sentence sounds as music. I applied for a grant of the Spanish Ministry to visit China and thanks to the help of the members of the Institute of Hydrobiology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Wuhan), my travel could be possible.  


    I started the field work at the beginning of May in Mangshi (Yunnan) following the work of the Doctor Zhang Haomiao. I visited with him 25 different localities of the Yunnan province during two months seeing real the words of my supervisor. Insects, fishes, reptiles, birds and little mammals of different sizes, shapes and colours flying, swimming and running daily and everywhere in front of my eyes. Thanks to the incredible knowledge of Dr. Zhang about dragonflies and damselflies I learned where and when the different species can be found as well how to identify them and a lot of secrets about their behaviour. Crossing streams in the karsts mountains, climbing for waterfalls, falling down in the ponds, doing acrobatics in the rice fields, breaking boots and nets... It was not a field experience, it was a real adventure.

    After the travel for Yunnan we stayed one week in the Wuhan city, where I had the pleasure to meet the members of the Institute of Hydrobiology and the Quinghua Cai’s team. The team is composed by a huge number of friendly students focused in the study of the water ecosystems. I was so comfortable with them that sometimes I tried to speak in my own language because I felt like in home! Here, I learned about different topics and improved my English with the high level of all of them. I was involved in the Wuhan University style, with a lot of cheap alternatives to eat and sports to practice. Also, I enjoyed the city, especially with the landscape of the lighted skyscrapers at the borders of the lake and with the old University buildings. 

    The next step was to travel to Longjiao, a little town in the Guizhou province with the aim to observe the giant and beautiful dragonfly Chlorogomphus papilio and to continue with my studies. There, we continue our adventure during 10 days, recording good results and new experiences between the incredible mountains. 

    During my stay I also learned about the Chinese culture, seeing the people working hard in the field, in the construction of buildings and roads between towns and in the cities, crowded of movement and development. I also taste the huge variety of delicious Chinese dishes and laugh all time with the people when I tried to speak Chinese (communication is possible!).  


    It is the last week of July now and I am in the end of my stay, again in Wuhan. I have a full notebook with more results than I expected, a hard disc with a giant number of photos and a very weight bag charged of amazing remembers and experiences. 

    If I have to summarize my stay, I only can say: come to China! 

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