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…

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…

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]

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…

Fowl Play: When handling birds gets auk-ward

It’s owl in a day’s work When it comes to researching avian species, it is common practice among ornithologists to capture, handle, and band birds [4]. This is standard for monitoring populations, identifying individuals, and obtaining physiological and behavioral data. Nobody really questions this; it’s all an important part of getting the information necessary to…

Transgenerational Plasticity: Lamarck’s Redemption

Dust off any high school biology textbook, flip to the evolution section, and you’ll see the stoic, world-weary face of Charles Darwin, father of evolutionary theory. His book On the Origin of Species laid the foundation for concepts, such as natural selection, that shape how we understand evolution and species diversity today. Pair his work…