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…

Field Fiasco Friday: Rain

“Rain” is what my host said as I flew out of my room at 5:30 in the morning, squealing, covered in bugs. He stood there with an unlit cigarette in the corner of his mouth, wearing nothing but a sarong, a traditional Malaysian wrap. All he did was shrug and walk off, leaving me to…

Field Fiasco – Army Ants

When it comes to peeing in the wilderness, us men generally have it pretty easy. Yet, even with all of my natural advantages, I can tell you with certainty that trying to pee while balancing on one foot atop an unstable log, crouched beneath a low cover of prickly vines, and trying to fend off…

Field Fiasco: Heavy Lifting

During my time as an undergraduate, I enrolled in a semester abroad in Madagascar. When I first heard the news, I couldn’t believe it: I was going to a foreign island off the south-eastern coast of Africa, home to some of the most unique and diverse animals on the planet. Up until that point, I…

Field Fiasco Friday: It’s Raining Monkeys!

During her time as a graduate student, Dr. Suzanne Austin took a tropical field course at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute at Barro Colorado Island, Panama. Her goal was to work with other evolutionary biology and ecology graduate students to learn all about the tropical fauna and hone her ornithological (bird science) skills, like mist-netting,…

Field Fiasco Friday: The Lonely Male – Bentley

  It was nearly daybreak. In the twilight of the dry-forests of Costa Rica, I sat silent at the base of a giant tree along the trail. As everything around me slowly came into focus, the trees started to stir. At the top of the tree under which I sat, monkeys began to wake up…

Field Fiasco Friday: Chupacabra Attack!

Field Fiasco Friday is a weekly segment highlighting the follies, foibles, farces, and failures that accompany any successful field season. Through this segment, we’ll share the stories of scientific data collection that don’t always make their way into the published results.     In early January of 2016, my colleagues and I headed out to South…