Lumen Envy

February 24, 2014

I recently had the opportunity to take part in a high altitude study of amphibians in the cloud forests near Wayqecha, Peru, on the edge of the Amazon basin. We were concentrating on tiny frogs less than the size of a dime which burrow deep in the moss of the cloud forests. The Andes are a relatively new mountain range, rising within the last 5 million years, and so the creatures on the upper flanks represent an ideal opportunity to study the evolution of new lineages.

WillChaffey_frogpondIt was painstaking work for which keen eyesight and a powerful light were necessary, even during the daytime. I had brought along my Stella which proved invaluable in the field. After a day crawling through the cloud forest looking for tiny frogs, most people would be happy to go home and have a gin and tonic, but not my companions, were, after all, biologists.


We went spotlighting every night after work. If there is one thing iologists love to compare notes on, it’s headlamps. With the powerful beam of the Stella, my companions admitted to a case of lumen envy. We went spotlighting at 10,800 feet and one magical night the Stella illuminated the eye shine of a rare marsupial, the Andean Slender Mouse Opossum. The powerful beam so transfixed the creature that it stayed still long enough for a photograph.