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There are six tents and we each share one with a teammate. We have plenty of room, and even a bed to sleep in! This morning Cinco, the ranch cat, came to visit me in my tent.

View of grasslands near our campsite. We are at 6,000 feet above sea level.

Welcome to New Mexico! Today was a day to get to know new friends and learn about our surroundings and the research we'll be participating in. My morning started with the sounds of coyotes howling in the distance and the ranch rooster crowing way too early! I unzipped the door of my tent to get my first good look at my home for the next week — it was dark when I arrived last night.

We are camping in Monticello Canyon on the Alamosa Creek. Our tents are in a grove of big black walnut trees and the canyon wall rises steeply right behind us. The area we are in is what's called an ecotone — a place where three biotic communities come together. We are on the edge of the desert, the forest, and the grasslands at an elevation of 6,000 feet.

You can tell fall has arrived — the nights are chilly, although it is still very warm during the day. The leaves on the cottonwood trees are turning bright yellow and the tamarisks are all turning orange. There are fewer trees here than I am used to in New Jersey, and I really like being able to see so far off into the distance and seeing the mountains around us.

Photo Credits: Courtesy of Shayne Russell