Field Notes: Do You Prefer Your Salmon Hot or Iced?

If you’ve been following the information stream on climate change, you have likely heard of global warming. And, if you happen to be interested in fish or marine life (like yours truly), you also probably know that this means many of the world’s water systems are projected to increase in temperature . Even at face…

Creature Feature: Sea Cucumbers

What animal has no face, is named after fresh produce, resembles a flaccid turd, and can turn their bodies inside out when threatened? Well, if you guessed sea cucumbers (Class: Holothuroidea) you must be a fellow aficionado or… perhaps the title was a dead giveaway. Either way, these squishy marine invertebrates are unsung heroes of…

Field Frame Friday: Let’s all do the waggle dance!

Honey bees (Apis mellifera) need lots of nectar to make stored honey for the winter. When one bee finds a good patch of flowers she will tell her colony mates where the food is through a waggle dance, which communicates both the direction and distance to the food. It’s similar to how seeing one ant…

Field Frame Friday: Share the shore!

Pinnipeds (i.e. seals, sea lions, and walruses) are considered amphibious marine mammals, meaning they spend significant parts of their life on land. For example, this elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris), hauled out on a popular beach in Point Reyes National Seashore during mating season (which has begun on the coast of California). These animals spend a…

Field Frame Friday: Daffodils or Disease-odils?

Bees of all kinds love flowers; however, flower nectar and pollen can also serve as vectors for various pathogens (disease causing agents) that can spread between bees of different colonies using the same flowers. In fact, honey bees can even pick up and spread bumble bee diseases to different flowers and vice versa. What’s more,…

Field Frame Friday: Watch where you step!

White-crowned sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys) nest in small willows or pines, often right on the ground. The nests are really hard to find but are so important to my research! Most nests have 4 tiny speckled eggs. When we find them, we track them as the eggs hatch and the nestlings grow up. [Photo and caption…

Field Frame Friday [Halloween edition]: Attack of the Clones!

Light bulb tunicates (Clavelina huntsmani), named for their bands of pink internal organs that resemble light bulb filaments, are a social species of tunicate (or more adorably known as “sea squirts”) that reproduce asexually so what you see here are red algae surrounding a little cluster or sea squirt clones! Spoooooky! [Photo and caption by…

Field Frame Friday: Summer Fieldwork Forecast?

I study how bird songs influence mating strategies in white-crowned sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys) and am interested in how traffic noise impedes the ability to assess bird songs and subsequently affects their reproductive success. During this summer’s fieldwork at Tioga Pass in Yosemite, we woke up to something very unexpected…a snowstorm had hit overnight- in JUNE!…

Creature Feature: The kelp forest—an underwater housing crisis

Let’s take a dip into the dark, chilly waters of northern California, where upwelling supplies nutrients to a forest canopy of slick, bulbous kelp tendrils, tangles of verdant sea grasses, and richly iridescent seaweeds. Kelps are considered “ecosystem engineers” as they provide habitat structure and modulate nutrient dynamics for a diverse host of tenants.

Sunday Sketch: A whole snake? Piece of cake!

Snakes can eat a wide variety of animals due to their many feeding adaptations that allow them to consume animals that are bulkier and larger than what would seem possible at first glance. Snakes often eat other animals with elongated body plans such as other snakes, eels, and lizards. Still, they certainly can’t eat anything…