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…

Field Frame Friday: Incoming sea gull! Take (algae) cover!

Sea urchins, including this purple sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) will use their tiny tube feet to grab and cover themselves in pieces of algae, small rocks or shells. It is thought that this behavior protects urchins from drying out in tidepools, getting eaten by seagulls, or being damaged by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. [Photo and…

Creature feature: Common poorwill

At a time when people are encouraged to isolate themselves and remain indoors to slow the spread of the 2019 coronavirus, many of us are feeling antsy or idle. But sitting inactive for long periods of time is the name of the game for the common poorwill. These birds are a member of the nightjar…

Creature Feature: Ringneck snake

To readers with ophidiophobia, or the fear of snakes, Ireland should be high on your vacation destination list. Popular legend attributes the Emerald Isle’s lack of legless reptiles to the actions of St. Patrick. He is said to have banished all snakes from Ireland in the 5th century AD after the serpentine critters attempted to…

Field Notes: The Inconvenient Truth (about field work)

Hello Ethogrammers! Maggie and Karli here, your editors who work behind the scenes with all the wonderful Field Notes writers each month. For many of us, field seasons are fast approaching, and while Field Notes gives you the glamorous, adventurous parts of our contributors’ science adventures, there is a lesser-known but equally important part of…

Creature Feature: World Wildlife Day

Biodiversity encompasses all life on Earth: from the adorable birds in your backyard to the terrific trees that provide shade each summer, the fresh fish in your tacos to the sneaky squirrel that tries to snag your snack . . .

Sunday Sketch: Otter Pockets

In stark contrast to humans, otters have successfully achieved gender equality when it comes to pockets. Both female and male otters have baggy portions of loose skin under their forearms that they can use to store various items. These pockets are often used to store food for later, but are also home to rocks that…