Field Frame Friday: A whole new meaning to being called a "bird-brain."

While the idiom, “bird brain” may mean a silly or stupid person, we may want to reconsider it as a compliment. Turns out, African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus) have more abstract logic than the average human toddler. When briefly shown the contents inside two canisters (walnuts or nothing) and then presented the parrots with the…

Field Frame Friday: No provisioning allowed!

When humans voluntarily feed wildlife, it is referred to as provisioning. Although this may appear a harmless and fun activity for visiting tourists, these small acts of “kindness” can have profound effects on wildlife. For example, provisioning can lead to increased aggression among individuals monkeys in a social group, as they are competing over a…

Field Frame Friday: Day gecko, night gecko

Madagascar day geckos (Genus Phelsuma) are important pollinators for Malagasy plants. In fact, the plants often have colored nectar, which is preferred by the day geckos. [Photo and caption by Meredith Lutz] Minnaar, I. A., Köhler, A., Purchase, C., & Nicolson, S. W. (2013). Coloured and Toxic Nectar: Feeding Choices of the Madagascar Giant Day…

Field Notes: Jungle Prozac

Jungle Prozac, my mom calls it. A potent drug, elements unknown. Possible components include the slurry of plant-produced volatile compounds infusing the air, the pleasing fractal dimensions of so many trees, adventure-induced hormone cascades, frequent exercise, a vegetative buffer from the anxieties of society, and a palm-framed view of Lake Gatun, Panama. Whatever its true…

Field Frame Friday: Mistletoe Munching

Mistletoe does not only serve to incite smooches on Christmas, but it’s also a tasty snack for Diademed Sifakas (Propithecus diadema) in Madagascar. When resources are few and far between in the winter, Sifakas rely on mistletoe and this reliance can reduce group cohesion in fragmented forests. Mistletoe may bring humans together, but it makes…

Field Frame Friday Holiday Edition: Christmas in the Field

Alexander is spending Christmas on Barro Colorado Island in Panama, part of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. The island is quiet for the holiday: only him, a handful of guardabosques (“Forest Guards”, similar to game wardens, that help maintain and protect the Barro Colorado National Monument), and a few cooks. They had a special lunch,…

Field Frame Friday: Beggars can’t be choosers

Ever had your pet beg to you for food? Well this is no different. This is Emma, performing her signature “hands out” behavior to indicate that she would like you to share whatever scrumptious things you have with her. Emma is a long tailed macaque that lives in a tourist park outside of Kuala Lumpur,…

Field Frame Friday: Literal love birds!

Madagascar love birds are the smallest lovebirds and one of three sexually dimorphic (meaning males and females look different in size or color) lovebirds. Lovebirds got their names as they often sit in pairs preening each other’s feathers [Photo and caption by Meredith Lutz] Dubuc, R. G. Family Tree of the African Love Bird. AFA Watchbird, 5(1),…

Field Notes: PhD Research or Arts-n-Crafts Hour… Why Not Both?

When you’re in the business of making nearly a thousand clay caterpillars by hand, there are a few must-have investments: Spotify premium (for hours’ worth of podcasts), ludicrous amounts of alcohol wipes (to scrub your stubbornly ink-dyed hands), more Copic marker refills than you think you would ever need (so you don’t have to drive…

Field Frame Friday: Excuse me? May I park my infant here please?

Ruffed lemurs, like the black and white ruffed lemur pictured here (Varecia variegata editorum) exhibit a unique infant rearing strategy among primates. They give birth to litters of 2-3 altricial (meaning that they are rather helpless and not as developed at birth) babies in a nest. The babies stay in the nest while one adult…

Field Frame Friday: Beware the hair!

It only takes one of these caterpillars to royally ruin a perfectly good field day. Caterpillars like these are covered in irritating hairs to avoid predation. However, if a human has an unexpected encounter with one, it can result in an uncomfortable skin rash that can last from minutes to hours. Thankfully I found this…

Field Frame Friday: Eat Dirt!

Geophagy, or eating soil, is observed in a variety of folivorous (leaf-eating) primates, including diademed sifaka (Propithecus diadema) in the Maromizaha Protected area. This behavior may help to protect against harmful chemicals found in the leaves that they consume. [Photo and caption by Meredith Lutz] Semel, B. P., Baden, A. L., Salisbury, R. L., McGee, E….

Field Frame Friday: PVC is marine mammal enrichment’s best friend.

This is what science looks like! That is if your science involves building enrichment puzzles for seals to help them learn how to forage for food! Enrichment and is a tool used to promote positive behaviors and provide cognitive stimulation to animals. This stimulus aims to encourage a species-typical “rock flipping” behavior in Hawaiian monk…

How to make friends at conferences: a crash course in academic networking

It would not be a very bold statement for me to say that “networking is important.” This is something most graduate students have likely heard from lots of different sources like their parents, their supervisors, or any formal professional development course they’ve taken. The reason this advice is so common is because it’s true. However, it can…

Field Notes: Breaking up (with your study species) is hard to do!

They say you never forget your first love, and I know that to be true…for birds. If you’re a regular reader of the Ethogram, you know that we put our hearts and souls into our study species. I’m often asked “Why that bird?” and while it’s easy to respond “Because they’re awesome!” there are actually…

Sunday Sketch: Speedy Beetles

Watch out! Tiger beetles run so fast that they temporarily go blind. To avoid tripping hazards (and find prey!) they run in short bursts, taking breaks to orient.

Newsroom: Just the Tipping Points

Check out how male water strider mating tactics exhibit tipping points based on group size and composition in our latest Newsroom piece by ABGG student Adrian Perez!

Field Notes: Singing Titi Monkeys

A typical morning of titi monkey vocalization recording starts off with a 4:30 AM alarm. I roll out of bed, start coffee, and am out in the door in under ten minutes. The 20-minute drive goes by quickly as I mechanically drink my coffee. As I gather my recorder, microphone, and camera, interns begin to show…

Field Frame Friday: Dimethylsulfoniopropionate: what a mouth full… of food.

Bluefin trevally (Caranx melampygus) or ‘omilu in Hawaiian are able to detect dimethylsulfoniopropionate (say that 5 times fast, or just say DMSP). DMSP is a chemical produced by phytoplankton (marine algae) that is an indicator of food productivity. This chemosensory adaptation is important for foraging success! [Photo and caption by Karli Chudeau] DeBose, J.L., Nevitt,…

Newsroom: A Bee of All Trades

Check out our newest piece by ABGG grad student Adrian Perez, telling us all about the task repertoire of honeybees!

Sunday Sketch: Glow-In-The-Dark Pocket Shark

A new species of pocket shark (Mollisquama mississippiensis) that was found in the Gulf of Mexico has recently been classified. Pocket sharks get their name from the “pocket” glands behind their pectoral fins. The glands in glow-in-the-dark pocket sharks produce a bioluminescent fluid. Their bodies also generate light all over from bundles of glandular organs…

Creature Feature: Reindeer

With jack frost nipping at your nose and holiday spiced drinks at your local coffee shop, ‘tis the season to be on the lookout for reindeer. Even if you don’t leave carrots by the chimney for Rudolf on Christmas Eve, reindeer are handsome, hardy animals that inspire thoughts of sparkling white snowscapes, the north woods,…

Sunday Sketch: Between a rock and a hard place

Long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) are one of the most common monkeys in southeast Asia. Some populations along the shore are found to use stones as tools to crack oysters, bivalves and various kinds of shellfish. This tool-related foraging technique is extremely rare among primates. The tool use behaviors are found only in some populations of monkey species in the same location despite sharing environmental…