Field Frame Friday: Snake is king

The California kingsnake (Lampropeltis californiae) is a wide-foraging generalist predator which feeds on a variety of prey items including small mammals, lizards, birds, and even other snakes. Though this species is broadly, anecdotally known for preying on venomous rattlesnakes, recent studies highlight dietary composition reflective of seasonal and geographically available prey [1]. In the photo,…

Creature Feature: Saiga Antelope

The saiga antelope, also known as Mongolian saiga (Saiga tatarica), is a little-known species of antelope, recognizable by its distinctive facial features. While saiga antelope once inhabited Mongolia, the extant (i.e. current) populations of saiga antelope live in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and a small part of Russia. These antelope once ranged from France all the way…

Field Frame Friday: Confetti Heads for Science

Sometimes the smallest changes can make the biggest difference in research! In rehabilitation, elephant seals get these nifty “hat tags” so that when there are a lot of seals in one pen, we can easily identify who is who with minimal disturbance (they like to sleep all piled together, and being sick, they like to…

Field Frame Friday: Someone turn up the heat!

Rock Hyraxes (Procavia capensis), elephant’s closest land relative, are grumpy little floofs with poor thermoregulation (the ability to regulate their body temperature). Luckily they are gregarious and to keep warm, pile on top of each other in burrows until the sun comes out, then take their cuddle puddle outside to bask in the sun together….

Field Frame Friday: The Beauty of Binoculars

Anyone who’s done field work will likely agree: nature photography is super hard! This photo here was taken with a smart phone, through a pair of binoculars! If you look closely, you can spot a moustached tamarin (Saguinus mystax). Not picture here: four other tamarins further along the branch! [Photo and caption by Allison Lau]…

Field Notes: A Change of Scene

Science takes place in all sorts of circumstances, and for me, those circumstances are usually inside of a lab. They are also often spread across multiple facilities and at very odd hours of the day (or night), and those are entire research stories of their own. Nonetheless, one of my favorite things about research is…

Creature Feature: Acorn Woodpecker

In the early spring mists of the California coast, deep within hilly oak and evergreen forests, their voices cut through the morning air. Calls emerge from somewhere in the treetops, ascending in pitch and volume: Ackah, Ackah, Ackah! ACKAH!”

Field Frame Friday: I don’t feel like sciencing today

In animal behavior research, we are often at the mercy of our animal collaborators. Acai, a harbor seal in rehabilitation, was uninterested in checking out this PVC puzzle in the water as a part of her cognitive tests. While frustrating that she didn’t want to participate, her behavior still provides valuable information that can help…

Creature Feature: Mandrills

If you’ve ever seen the Lion King, you may remember Rafiki, the wise Mandrill. Read this article to learn more about very colorful and socially complex Mandrills!

Field Frame Friday: Observe! The meadowhawk!

The variegated meadowhawk, Sympetrum corruptum, is a migratory perching dragonfly found in much of North America and parts of South America. It is known to perch on twigs and bushes, as well as on the ground or long grasses, hence the name “meadowhawk.” Like many other dragonflies in the family Libellulidae, it hunts small flying insects and…

Field Notes: Urban Cat-astrophes

Many of my colleagues have lived alongside nature since birth, but I grew up in Seoul, Korea, where people rarely pass a tree on their way to work, and their exposure to nature generally begins and ends with household pets. Although I came to grad school thinking that my interest in animals and nature might…

Field Frame Friday: Cicada Chimney

What’s this mud spire doing in the middle of the jungle? Some cicada species, like the creator of this muddy tiny tower here, build mud chimneys to protect themselves from predators and harsh weather like rainforest storms! [Photo and caption by Allison Lau] Béguin, C. F. (2020). The Nymph Architect of the Cicada Guyalna chlorogena:…

Field Frame Friday: Still & Stealthy Herons

The great blue heron (Ardea herodias) is a major predator of salmon and one of the many dangers that out-migrating juveniles face (Sherker et. al. 2021). The largest North American heron, this bird hunts in shallow water environments like marshes, floodplains, and even agricultural fields. They wade incredibly slowly through the water and often remain still for…

Sci Hero: Ada, Countess of Lovelace

The Ethogram believes that science should be accessible and diverse in order to increase the sense of belonging within the science community. Each month we highlight a “Sci Hero” so the next generation of scientists and naturalists may be inspired.

Field Frame Friday: First, let me take a shelf-ie

In this photo, Kirsten is in the process of, well, taking a selfie. But JUST before this, she was installing some fancy Raspberry Pi’s (small computers) and cameras onto their custom shelving rack… using a decidedly not-fancy sliding-door transition strip to mount the cameras! Animal behavior experiments are often a wonderful combination of high-tech gear and random…

Field Frame Friday: Cowry Currency

The appearance of an unexpected visitor during field work is always a treat . . . this one, a humpback cowry (Cypraea mauritiana), was found on the windward side of Oʻahu during a survey of benthic (bottom-dwelling) organisms along a rocky stretch of coast. Cowries are marine snails with smooth, often brightly patterned shells. The…

Field Notes: Bird Brains and Behavioral Flexibility

Flexibility is the cornerstone of any PhD – whether it be recovering from failed experiments or tumultuous unproductive field seasons. One of the most useful skills to learn as a doctoral student is how to adapt and be flexible within your program or institution such that you can navigate all the inevitable obstacles along your…

Field Frame Friday: Tiny bee, tiny bee, what are they feeding you?

Some bees are so small that to identify them, one needs to look at them through the lens of a microscope. This little specimen is a male Lasioglossum dispersum, a type of sweat bee found in the caribbean. The second part of their name (or specific epithet)  refers to how dispersed the species is. It can be…

Sci Hero: Ynés Mexía

The Ethogram believes that science should be accessible and diverse in order to increase the sense of belonging within the science community. As a part of our continuing effort to make science a more inclusive field, we will be highlighting a “Sci Hero” each month so that the next generation of scientists and naturalists may be inspired and identify with the diverse community that came before them.

Science Heroes: Ynés Mexía

Science Heroes: the column highlighting scientists and naturalists that if you don’t know, you should! This month highlights Mexican-American botanist Ynés Mexía!

Field Frame Friday: Safety First

Field work can often be an adventurous endeavor and planning for the possibility of problems is just as important as preparing for exciting research. At UC Davis, there is an entire Field Safety Research Team dedicated to facilitating safe field research. The field safety team provides consultations on how to minimize risk while in the field. One…

Field Frame Friday: Bonus Barn Cats!

One of the cool things about visiting Dairy Farms is all the extra critters that live there!  Many dairy farms have feral or barn cats that live on the property. They help to catch mice, in between taking cute naps like this! [Photo and caption by Isabelle McDonald-Gilmartin] [Edited by Maggie Creamer]

Field Notes: Peru Pilot Trip

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a good deal of research was put on pause to protect the health of our global community and the animals we work with. While the pandemic is still an ongoing threat, some researchers have been able to safely resume data collection. The field notes shared here are from my September 2021 pilot field…

Field Frame Friday: Jungle Documentary Secret

If you’ve ever enjoyed the beautiful cinematography of a jungle nature documentary, we have news for you! Your expectation of what a rainforest looks like might be a bit skewed. Rainforests are some of the most biodiverse places in the world, and documentaries often make it look like these forests are chock-full of lianas and…