Creature Feature: Sonoran desert toad

When one imagines amphibians (animals that live between land and water), damp, dim scenes of swamps and rainforest floors come to mind. These creatures, that can breathe through their skin and begin life swimming in form of fish-like tadpoles, must constantly have access to water to live. Given this, it’s hard to envision a frog…

Field Frame Friday: An island where birds rule all!

In the Seychelles, an island chain off the east coast of Africa, White-tailed tropicbirds (Phaethon lepturus) on Cousin Island don’t have the threat of predators so they nest on the ground in the hollows of trees or root nooks. This pair could care less how close humans were to them, but it is still important…

Sunday Sketch: Llama Ovulation

Humans ovulate once a month during a normal hormonal cycle, regardless of how much action (or not) we get.  Llamas, however, have a much more efficient system. Did you know that male llamas can induce ovulation in females by copulating with them? This means that females llamas only ovulate when they’ve actually had sex! While…

Field Frame Friday: Forgetfulness = Biodiversity!

The Central American Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata) is a small rodent that looks similar to a guinea pig. Their favorite treats are nuts and seeds, and sometimes they store these treats in the ground to eat later. Sometimes agoutis forget about the nuts and seeds and they grow into a new plant. These forgetful rodents are…

Field Notes: Eat, [don’t] sleep, watch calves, repeat

Research teaches you way more than you’d expect: Which trendy caffeinated drinks do and don’t work to keep you awake (stick to coffee.) What exercise you can do during observations to stay active without distracting your subjects (squats.) Which podcasts are best for keeping you alert without making you panic when you’re outside alone in…

Sunday Sketch: Budgie Attraction

Looking for something to impress that special someone with this Valentine’s Day? Female budgies prefer males who successfully solve puzzle boxes. Talk about smart mate choice! Fact and sketch contributed by Amelia Munson Chen, J., Zou, Y., Sun, Y., & Cate, C. T. (2019). Problem-solving males become more attractive to female budgerigars. Science, 363 (6423),…

Field Frame Friday: Drool-cicle Dreams.

Not all behavioral observations go into datasheets and end up in academic journals. Antarctic seals, like this Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddellii)drool while sleeping, but its so cold (summer temperatures as low as −26 °C or −14.8 °F) that it freezes into a drool-cicle! [Caption and Photo taken (under MMPA Permit 17411) by Skyla Walcott]

Sunday Sketch: Burying Beetle Parents

Burying beetles (subfamily Nicrophorinae) are some of the best parents in the insect world! Both the males and females carefully tend to the carcass on which they lay their eggs, spreading antibacterial secretions and enzymes to maintain the carrion’s condition. These “brood balls” decompose at far slower rates than normal carcasses, provide an easy-to-digest food for…

Field Frame Friday: What does your facial hair say about you?

Facial hair whorl (how the hair swirls) position can be associated with temperament in cattle. Those with hair whorls starting between their eyes are more interested in unfamiliar humans than cows with hair whorls that begin below their eyes. Judging by these calves’ interest in this camera, it seems like a fair conclusion! [Photo and…