Field Notes: Mud, Poop, and Bees – A Pilot Study on Swamp Gorillas

Lake Télé is striking on the map. It’s a near-perfect blue circle in a sea of green. Yet it is not this peculiar shape, nor the rich biodiversity of the surrounding forest [1], that it is known for. Instead, it has its very own mysterious monster, Mokele Mbembe. Not to discount the importance of legend…

Field Notes: Cattle Grazing is AMAZING!

I arrive at my beautiful field site in the Sierra Foothills a couple days before it begins. I help the folks that work at the research station move my willing subjects, adult female cows, close to where I will be conducting my assessments. I’m reminded that moving cows (or really any field work involving animals) takes longer…

Field Notes: A Change of Scene

Science takes place in all sorts of circumstances, and for me, those circumstances are usually inside of a lab. They are also often spread across multiple facilities and at very odd hours of the day (or night), and those are entire research stories of their own. Nonetheless, one of my favorite things about research is…

Field Notes: Urban Cat-astrophes

Many of my colleagues have lived alongside nature since birth, but I grew up in Seoul, Korea, where people rarely pass a tree on their way to work, and their exposure to nature generally begins and ends with household pets. Although I came to grad school thinking that my interest in animals and nature might…

Field Notes: Bird Brains and Behavioral Flexibility

Flexibility is the cornerstone of any PhD – whether it be recovering from failed experiments or tumultuous unproductive field seasons. One of the most useful skills to learn as a doctoral student is how to adapt and be flexible within your program or institution such that you can navigate all the inevitable obstacles along your…

Field Notes: Peru Pilot Trip

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a good deal of research was put on pause to protect the health of our global community and the animals we work with. While the pandemic is still an ongoing threat, some researchers have been able to safely resume data collection. The field notes shared here are from my September 2021 pilot field…

Field Notes: Diary from a First Field Season

Hi there! Jessica here. I’m starting this diary to log the tribulations and triumphs of my PhD research on shorebirds in the Eastern Sierra Nevada. Always exciting, grueling, and full of surprises, field season is my favorite part of the year . . . however, the first field season of a new project can be…