Field Notes: The sensory world of sea otters

Sarah McKay Strobel, a PhD researcher at University of California Santa Cruz, highlights the world according to sea otters and how it’s not just about knowing your study species, but knowing the individual animals as well.

Sunday Sketch: Dung Beetle Navigation

In addition to birds, seals, and humans, the nocturnal dung beetle (Scarabaeus satyrus) uses the stars as orientation and navigational cues. The dung beetles may not be able to discriminate between individual stars, but can use clumps of bright stars and the Milky Way for nocturnal migration. Sketch and fact contributed by Karli Chudeau Source: Dacke,…

Mental Health and Graduate School

A note about the author: Ryane Logsdon is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Animal Behavior Graduate Group at UC Davis. She has dealt with generalized anxiety for most of her life, with bouts of depression throughout her undergraduate and graduate career. May is Mental Health Awareness month and while May has passed, the conversation about mental…

Sunday Sketch: Anemone Piggyback

Did you know that some animals get by with a little help from their “friends”? Certain species of marine hermit crabs have a symbiotic relationship with sea anemones, meaning they mutually use each other for their own benefit. Riding along the hermit crab shell, sea anemones get the opportunity to be mobile and have more…

Field Frame Friday: Beach baboons

A threat display from an olive baboon (Papio anubis) produces a submissive response from a second individual. Dominance (relative rankings of animals) is a major guiding force in many animal societies. In fact, in male olive baboons, more certain dominance hierarchies is associated with lower average levels of cortisol, a hormone that is typically associated…

Sunday Sketch: Harbor Seal

While our facial whiskers have little tactile functionality, harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) whiskers, or vibrissae, have comparable sensitivity to human hands! Just as we use our hands to explore our environment, pinnipeds use their vibrissae to gather environmental information both above and below water. Harbor seals can discriminate different surfaces and shapes of objects as…

Field Frame Friday: An oldie but agouti

Agoutis are terrestrial rodents that can be found throughout Central and South America. If you come across these creatures you are most likely to find them traveling in pairs and perusing the forest floor for fruits and seeds. Due to these foraging patterns, these animals are known to have important ecosystem roles as seed dispersers…

Grief: It’s Not Just a Human Thing

Grief is a familiar emotion to many people who have experienced loss. However, behaviors associated with grief are not exclusive to our fellow Homo sapiens. In fact, numerous other animal species have been observed to grieve a loss through an assortment of behavioral responses. Emotions like grief are able to connect animals both socially and…