Field Frame(s) Friday: COVID-19 Edition

COVID-19 Edition: While navigating through uncharted waters of a pandemic, scientists are dealing with physical isolation, the inability to run lab experiments, the uncertain fates of upcoming field seasons, and learning how to work from home! Unable to resist our scientific endeavors, here are some of animal behavior researchers at UC Davis continuing their research in a whole new kind of “field.”

Meredith is a 3rd year studying social behavior and conservation in lemurs. She’s been in Madagascar collecting data on seasonal changes in diademed sifaka and common brown lemur social behavior for the past 8 months. She’s recently been evacuated, and her new office (on the right) is significantly less rainy than the one on the left. While she waits to be cleared to return, she’s keeping busy with data cleaning, statistical analysis, and working with her interns studying primate behavioral flexibility – all neatly organized into a host of project-specific notebooks.

Allison Lau is a 2nd year studying coppery titi monkey relationship quality as measured by vocal synchrony. Her current office is much quieter than normal, has more furry co-workers, and is a bit cozier than her usual digs. Also pictured here, Butternut the fur child and Lucy the titi monkey (acrylic on canvas).

Claudio is a 3rd year studying behavioral responses of forest mammals to landscape mosaics to facilitate conservation of terrestrial mammals in Central America. These days, he was supposed to be collecting White-faced capuchin data in Coiba National Park. Because of COVID-19, he is now working on a manuscript of a study he finished a while ago that looked at the community composition and intensity of use by Neotropical mammals in human-provided habitats, such as timber species. The background of his new office includes a patch of tropical forests in Gamboa, an old town neighbor of the Panama Canal, where just from his window he can see a bunch of birds such as toucans, tanagers, and woodpeckers, as well as iguanas. No sloth yet, he said, but he keeps his eyes open!

Maggie Creamer is a 2nd year studying how observable beef cattle personality traits may correspond with foraging decisions on extensive rangelands. Normally, she is in her office in front of a big desktop computer using GIS software to analyze preliminary GPS data or pilot testing behavior assessments at the UC Davis feedlot. Unfortunately, her current work-from-home pal Oliver acts more like a bunny than like a cow, lurking behind corners and refusing to be a pilot-study participant. However, he likes to offer assistance answering emails. 

Alex McInturf is a 4th year studying shark, skate, and salmon physiology and behavior. While she has worked everywhere from exotic field sites to the local laboratory at UC Davis, she rarely finds herself set up at the kitchen table. This is also the first time she has tried to delegate her work to Mako, her spaniel. [No R-code or animal was harmed in the taking of this photo].

Karli Chudeau is a 3rd year studying the welfare and conservation of seals in wildlife rehabilitation settings. She was just on the verge of beginning her field season when the “shelter-in-place” order began in California, stopping all data collection in its tracks. She now alternates between a garden office and home desk trying to remain productive by writing grants, learning how to use video coding software, and frequent work breaks with her furry co-worker to keep morale high.

Josie Hubbard is a 3rd year studying how urbanization influences the behavioral responses of animals, using long tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) as a model system. This picture looks rather different from her usual working environment. Most days she would either be on campus teaching biology labs, or watching urban monkeys harass people for ice cream in Malaysia. 

Bidisha Chakraborty is a 2nd year studying individual motivations of participation in intergroup conflict, and its effect on individual health and behavior in macaques. Unfortunately there are no monkeys involved in her current work day , so she compensates by watching squirrels playing on the tree beside her home office window. There is far less walking involved, far more stress-eating, and struggling to find structure while working (as seen by her tidy whiteboard).

Carter Loftus is a 3rd year studying how baboons make important decisions in their everyday life that both affect and are affected by their group mates. Sometimes his research involves running around Kenya, videoing baboons in the middle of the night. Fortunately, his plan for this spring was to analyze some data and publish the results, so this photo captures a pretty typical scene at this stage of his research. However, COVID-19 has brought some key differences to Carter’s schedule: 1) his new video conferencing outfit; i.e. a nice shirt with (horribly clashing) flannel pants, 2) staying on lock-down with his sister in Berlin instead of his apartment in southern Germany, and 3) he hasn’t been outside in 7 days — not necessarily because of the pandemic; it’s just a little too convenient to have a living room office.

Cover Photo taken near the UC Davis Arboretum where the local community is still able to enjoy the outdoors while keeping a respectful 6-foot distance from each other. [Source: Karli Chudeau].

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