Friday, June 15, 2012

Hard Work Leads to Rewarding Surprises

Sorry for the delay in posting...I can't believe we are already in our third week of the field season! This year has been a blast so far. I have seven awesome undergraduate interns who are dedicated and hard-working-- working 12 hours a day, 6 days a week; tracking snakes, trapping squirrels, filming interactions, and running behavioral experiments (whew!). Our lab is able to capture rarely seen rattlesnake behaviors because we put in crazy amounts of effort, something I think few researchers are willing or unable to do. Our hard work  often leads to rewarding surprises when we catch glimpses of animal interactions or behaviors that are rarely seen (and sometimes NEVER seen before). The fact that we see behaviors that have never been described highlights the importance of observational and basic ecological studies. Most researchers believe that the best science comes from empirically testing hypotheses by manipulating variables--but if we still don't understand how an organism interacts with its environment and other animals, how can we form hypotheses about it? I find it unfortunate that observational studies are not as valued as empirical studies; just my two cents.

Anyway, I have posted some pics of the new Crotalus Crew hard at work, and some of the rewarding things we have seen in the field. Enjoy!

Trevor and Rey stake out next to a squirrel colony (I hope they capture awesome interactions!)

Erynn, using radio-telemetry to track one of our snakes:

Tara, checking the body temps of our study snakes:

Mark, taking a pic of the king snake he found:

Me, implanting a snake with a radio-transmitter:

We found out that two-year-old rattlers can eat squirrel pups. Check out that bulge!

A male Bullock's Oriole hovering to the left of its nest:

Our most rewarding surprise yet! Two California king snakes mating on the dirt road:

1 comment:

  1. Very cool find on the kingsnakes! And I am in total agreement with you on the need for natural history and that it is SCIENCE. You are lucky to be in a graduate program that supports that, not all of them do :-)