Field Fiasco: Unleash the Bees!

Some of the greatest discoveries of how honey bee colonies work have been made using observation hives: glass-walled hives that allow scientists to monitor the activities of the colony. Setting up my observation hives in early April marked the true start of my field season. Coming into lab to greet, stare at, and admire my…

Field Fiasco: The Shower

  A few summers ago I spent a field season studying monkeys on a tiny island in southern Japan. I would stay on the island for up to a week at a time, because it was typhoon season and large waves often prevented transportation to and from the island. With unpredictable weather during a short…

Field Fiasco: A Watchful Eye

Hiking up the Virunga Mountains to see mountain gorillas, Gorilla beringei beringei, is truly a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience. Spending nearly a month in-country keeps your excitement in a pressure cooker, so that by the time you are trekking to see these amazing apes, your heart is already racing in anticipation. Yet, the moment I saw one…

Field Fiasco: A scaly, slithering serpent

It was pitch black, in the early hours of the morning. We all walked with our handlamps down to the ground in a straight line on the trail. None of us spoke, it was too early for chit-chat. Three silent bright lights walked one by one through the dense understory of the Congolese rainforest. We…

Field Fiasco: Truck Troubles

Everything comes with trade offs. It’s a fundamental truth that governs how we think as biologists, but it also applies to pretty much everything else in life. In terms of field work, I get the luxury of having Davis serve as my field site. So no, I don’t get to spend my summers in the…

Field Fiasco: Bee-boozled

These aren’t the bees you’re looking for. The forest. My love for the forest spans since before I remember. My grandfather, Martin Farrell, was an avid woodsman and the time I spent with him left me with a great respect and ever-present playful curiosity for knowledge and insight within the wild and forgotten places of…

Field Fiasco: Gibbon Tease

When working in Sabah, Malaysia, I encountered some of the most frustrating primates I’ve ever worked with. That’s really saying something, considering that I now work with the very mischievous Rhesus macaques. To this day I still remember this frustrating group of gibbons, which I called the “office group.” During my 2015 field season, I…

Field Fiasco: Fossa Follies

Before my trip to Madagascar last summer, I was guaranteed a fossa sighting— a must-see on my Madagascar bucket list. Fossa are Madagascar’s largest endemic carnivores, and these nocturnal animals are closely related to the mongoose. During previous field seasons in the rainforest of Madagascar, we had caught pictures of fossa on our camera traps (cameras…

Field Fiasco: Adversity in the Arctic

  Many field fiascos recount the terrors of tropical clines, from bugs frightening in both size and number, to the various forms “Rain” can take.  This week, our stories come from the opposite end of the earth: the snow-covered Arctic circle. Dr. Jesse Krause, a post-doctoral scholar in the lab of Dr. John Wingfield, has…

Field Fiasco Friday: Fishy Business

On a bright and sunny day in the eastern rainforests of Madagascar, I prepared for another day in the field, following a group of wild lemurs. I filled my water bottle, grabbed my lunch, threw my backpack over one shoulder and set off up the hill to meet my local guide at our usual meeting…

Field Fiasco: Fish in the driveway?!

This past year, Dr. Isaac Ligocki, an NSF post-doctoral fellow with Dr. Rebecca Calisi here at UC Davis, set out to do field work in Northern California. He aimed to examine the effects of a common group of pesticides: the pyrethroids—deemed “safe” alternatives for agricultural use. Widely used in the California Central Valley, these chemicals…

Field Fiasco Friday: The Ticking Tick Bomb

As a native to the mountains of New York, I considered frog catching a favorite childhood pastime. I remember spending hours at the local streambed catching frogs, confining them in jars, and studying their behavior. In retrospect, this may have been my first signs as a budding field biologist, along with a naivety to the…