Field Frame Friday: Turtle party!

Meet Testudo hermanni hermanni, a Mediterranean tortoise present in Italy, France and Spain. Its captive breeding was made necessary by the destruction of its native habitat. The challenge for current breeders, unlike most of the species bred as pets, is to maintain as much as possible the purity of the species, subspecies and, if possible,…

Field Notes: The First of Many Lasts

As I pack up my car on a breezy August day, I take one last breath of the cool, ocean air filled with scents of sagebrush and eucalyptus, realizing that while this wouldn’t be my last trip to the Marin Headlands, this is the last time I will be collecting data for graduate school.  —…

Field Frame Friday: This is how I show my love – QUAIL

A California Quail (Callipepla californica) poses majestically on a shrub. California Quail participate in brood-mixing, where multiple female quail will raise multiple offspring (related and not-related) in communal family groups. It is suggested that females involved in communal family groups also live longer than those in single family groups. There are benefits of being a…

Field Frame Friday: Flexy Fanaloka

Check out this trail cam photo of a spotted fanaloka (Fossa fossana) taken in Madagascar during Meredith Lutz’s field season. Spotted fanaloka adjust their activity patterns to avoid humans and invasive carnivores, like dogs, during seasons of increased human and dog activity. [Photo and Caption by Meredith Lutz] Reference: Farris, Z. J., Gerber, B. D.,…

Creature Feature: American black bear

We’re about to finish checking our bird traps at Tioga Pass when I spot it– a moving black lump in the upper right hand corner of my eye. We freeze.  “Holy–” I say. “Is that…?” I slowly raise my binoculars. It is. Standing on a boulder, huffing its huge steaming snout in the morning air,…

Field Notes: Four Field Perspectives

Field biology is almost always a team endeavor. Field crews often include people with different levels of experience and biological backgrounds—and each member brings something valuable to the team, from budding young scientists to experienced researchers. Going into the Summer of 2022, my second field season researching Spotted Sandpipers (Actitis macularius), I was nervous ….

Field Frame Friday: Where’s the beef? Being social!

Beef cattle are social creatures! They form complex social groups and hierarchies made up of close companions and individual acquaintances. Next time you are observing cattle grazing or driving through some pastures, check out their herd structures! [Photo and caption by Alycia Drwencke] Sowell, B. F., Mosley, J. C., & Bowman, J. G. P. (1999,…

Field Frame Friday: We all like a well-groomed friend

Grooming rituals are very common in macaques. Grooming not only keeps monkeys healthy, but it also reinforces social structures and bonds between animals. In this photo, a male macaque named Mario is grooming a female macaque named Gao-luck. [Photo and caption by Nalina Aiempichitkijkarn] Reference: Henazi, S. P., & Barrett, L. (1999). The value of…

Creature Feature: Wolf Spider

It’s getting closer to her. Subtle vibrations run up her brown legs, and the starlit flashes of the cricket’s movement reach her eight night-vision eyes. But she can’t strike yet. Too early, and the slender cricket will jump away with its powerful rear legs. Too late, and the cricket will discover her and change course….

Field Notes: Monkey Identification

I study a group of free-ranging long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) in Wat Khao Tamon, a Buddhist temple in the south of Thailand. I primarily focus on their social behavior, and my current project looks at relationships between their social behavior and the likelihood of contracting a tuberculosis infection. Tuberculosis is a deadly airborne respiratory disease…

Field Frame Friday: Mom’s Milk

This beef calf, with her mom hanging out closely in the background, will stay with her for multiple months on pasture before she gets weaned. Weaning is the process where her mother will not allow her to drink milk from her teats any more. This naturally happens around 6 months of age! [Photo and caption…

Field Frame Friday: Who else hates stopping on a road trip?

Each year gray whales migrate about 10,000 miles each direction moving from Mexico to Alaska and back. As they migrate north, the whales will stop occasionally to rest or feed, but as they migrate south, it appears they do not stop. [Photo and caption by Alycia Drwencke] Reference: Pike, G. C. (1962). Migration and feeding…

Field Frame Friday: PhD with a minor in construction

“You learn many different skills in graduate school; my favorite and most useful by far are construction skills! I designed and built 24 enrichment devices for my PhD and got so popular frequenting the local hardware store that they even gave me a 10% discount on PVC pipe!” [Photo and caption by Karli Chudeau] [Edited…

Field Frame Friday: Primate Party

Our very own ABGGer, Nalina, observes social interactions among free-ranging macaques at Wat khao Tamon, Petchaburi province in Thailand with the aim to link their social connectedness with their tuberculosis infections. The long-tailed macaque lives in urban areas and is in close proximity to human settlements, which could lead to disease spillover from humans. This special long-tailed macaque is…

Field Frame Friday: Mouse + Lemur, What Could Be Cuter?

Mouse lemurs (Genus Microcebus) are the smallest primates and are found throughout Madagascar. These small primates may be some of the most adaptable lemurs, because they can live in small forest fragments that are much colder and drier than their typical home. [Photos and caption by Meredith Lutz] Reference: Andriambeloson, J. B., Blanco, M. B., Andriantsalohimisantatra,…

Field Notes: Mud, Poop, and Bees – A Pilot Study on Swamp Gorillas

Lake Télé is striking on the map. It’s a near-perfect blue circle in a sea of green. Yet it is not this peculiar shape, nor the rich biodiversity of the surrounding forest [1], that it is known for. Instead, it has its very own mysterious monster, Mokele Mbembe. Not to discount the importance of legend…

Field Frame Friday: Some snail mail for you!

There are 284 species representing 30 families of land snails and slugs currently described as living within the geographic boundaries of California. Now that’s what I call a snail-dense state! [Photo and caption by Alycia Drwencke] Reference: Sullivan, R. M. (2021). Phylogenetic relationships among subclades within the Trinity bristle snail species complex, riverine barriers, and…

Field Frame Friday: Fat Bats

Bats (Order Chiroptera), like this bat from Madagascar’s eastern rainforests, are important contributors to their ecosystem. In Madagascar, insectivorous bats consume insects that are detrimental to rice crops, a staple of Malagasy cuisine. Meredith photo-caught this bat on her trail camera set up for her fieldwork in Madagascar (read more about her work in this…

Creature Feature: Ghost Shark

If you were to hand a toddler a crayon and ask them to draw a shark, chances are you might end up getting something that resembles the ghost shark! First caught on film in 2016, this creepy critter has been eluding the paparazzi for decades. Confusingly, ghost sharks, as they are colloquially called, are not…

Field Notes: Cattle Grazing is AMAZING!

I arrive at my beautiful field site in the Sierra Foothills a couple days before it begins. I help the folks that work at the research station move my willing subjects, adult female cows, close to where I will be conducting my assessments. I’m reminded that moving cows (or really any field work involving animals) takes longer…

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…