Sunday Sketch: Child Labor

Like almost all activities in a social insect colony, nest building involves team work. Weaver ants, Camponotus (Myrmobrachys) senex, build elaborate nests made of stitched together leaves that are subdivided into small interconnected chambers. The work of tying these leaves together involves a surprising joint effort by both adults workers and larvae. Adult workers will carry individual…

Field Frame Friday: Sneaky Snake Alert!

Many animals may respond to the presence of a predator by eliciting a signal that alerts other individuals in the area. Since snakes are a major predator of monkeys, they often respond very strongly whenever one is nearby. The female long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) in this photo is very upset with a large boa constrictor…

Creature Feature: the Greater Spear-Nosed Bat

“I think he’s in the termite mound!” I shouted. Camila Calderón, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, called back: “No! Let’s keep looking over this hill! Maybe the signal is bouncing!” Camila studies the greater spear-nosed bat, Phyllostomus hastatus (or just Phast to its friends). With a typical adult wingspan of…

Sunny Sketch: No Inkling of Ink

The dumbo octopus (genus Grimpoteuthis) is distinguished from its octopus brethren by its adorable ear-like fins that provide its namesake. However, there are also a few other characteristics that make this little creature unique. First of all, it is indeed a little creature compared to most other octopodes, with an average size of just 20-30…

Field Frame Friday: Happy Valentine's Day!

Titi monkeys are pair-bonding monkeys. They engage in affiliative behaviors like the one depicted here: tail twining! Titi monkeys tail twine during the day in order to maintain contact with their partner, similar to hand-holding in humans. At night, titi monkeys tail twine to maintain proximity and help each other balance while sleeping! Happy Valentine’s Day!…

Field Notes: Listening to Whales.

NOAA researcher and marine mammal acoustician, Arial Brewer, shares her fascination with animal communication and love of the sea!

Field Fiasco Friday: Case of the Missing i-Pad

The animal I study (the kinkajou, Potos flavus) is arboreal and nocturnal. This means that to watch one, I have to run through the Panamanian rainforest at night. While looking up. To manage this, I rely a lot on technology. First, I put collars on my kinkajous that transmit a radio signal. I can use…

Creature Feature: Banggai cardinalfish

A population of small reef fish hiding amongst the spines of sea urchins in the Banggai Archipelago, doing their best to avoid capture by the hands of ornamental fish collectors, may now depend on their captors to ensure existence in the wild. The Banggai cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni) are in trouble as result of their unique…

Publish and perish: A graduate student perspective

As I sit here writing this, I’m simultaneously observing the two fish swimming on my computer monitor. It is a Saturday, and like most graduate students, I have tried to master the art of multi-tasking. This weekend, however, I’m having a particularly hard time concentrating on my research. This is not because I am jaded…

Sunday Sketch: Birds of a feather

For most raptors, hunting is not a team sport. Harris’ hawks, however, play the game a bit differently. Although a few other raptors are known to hunt cooperatively, Harris’ hawks are by far the most cooperative and coordinated in their hunting behavior. They use many strategies for hunting that rely on coordinated maneuvers by each…