Thursday, June 27, 2013

Guest Blog Post by Mike Hogan

The following is written by one of my field interns, Mike Hogan:

Ever since I can remember, snakes have captivated my interest and directed my academic focus in Biology and Herpetology. As a recent graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, I jumped at the opportunity to work with the infamous North Pacific Rattlesnake as a summer field assistant. And after a month out in this beautiful reserve with great people and remarkable animals – life is good.

I find it amazing how much knowledge one can take away from studying a species. Just by looking at our research species, Crotalus o. oreganus, one could study behavior and discover evolutionary selective forces leading to such behaviors, or one could look at the venom and determine how regional distribution relates to toxicity and prey resistances, or one could sequence DNA from a number of specimens revealing gene flow, or record regional densities to establish the quality of various habitats… the list goes on. I think you can learn a lot by looking at one or two organisms and how they managed to combat selective pressures on our ever-changing planet.

Out of all the subfields of biology, behavior is definitely my favorite. I hope to someday incorporate snake behavior research into the venom industry, and observing free ranging predator prey interactions between ground squirrels and rattlesnakes is definitely an exciting step towards this goal.

Me, holding a tubed rattlesnake

But at the end of the day, the success of any research depends on the quality of the people involved with it. Each day I am surrounded by a group of hard working, compassionate field assistants with Bree as our fearless leader. A positive environment expedites the research, and I am glad to call myself part of such a great family here at BORR!

All the interns at the Oakland Zoo (on the day off of course)

Below is a quick video I put together using some footage I collected while in the field. Enjoy! 

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