Be a lady (in field biology) they said

In honour of the 6th International Day of Women and Girls in Science (February 11th, 2021), we wanted to take the opportunity to explore what it means to be a woman in field biology. While many aspects of fieldwork don’t discriminate by sex or gender (for example, getting bitten by insects, getting dirty, losing your phone/your field notes/your mind), fieldwork can present some unique trials for women – especially when it involves long days, weeks,…

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Cows, Creosotes, and Checkerboards

This week we welcome Dr. Kaiya Provost to the blog. Kaiya is a Postdoc at the Ohio State University working with Bryan Carstens on bioacoustics and phylogeography of North American birds. For more about Kaiya, see the end of this post or find her on Twitter @KaiyaProvost. Big Bend National Park, Texas, 2016, is where my hatred of cows began. That summer, one charged me when I rounded a corner and got too close. I…

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Our “why”

2020 was a difficult year for everyone. It was challenging. It was tragic. At some points it didn’t even seem real. The beginning of a multi-year pandemic, locust swarms in Africa, and fires devastating Australia are just a subset of the terrible turns that 2020 took. Implications for field biologists ranged from minor to significant. With many universities and institutions closed, some projects were put on hold or cancelled. Work was only permitted if considered…

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Eliminating the uncertainty of “fieldwork” in 2020

With 2020 coming to an end, it’s time to reflect on all of the uncertainty that came with this year. Normally, I use my agenda every day, planning out my daily, weekly, and monthly activities. So the idea of the “unknown” is what has stressed me out the most this year. Not knowing when we will be able to work in the lab, when I can travel to see my family, or when I might…

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Getting caught with your pants down at 4500m

This week on Dispatches from the Field, we are happy to welcome Alex Denton, a PhD candidate in Environmental Science, studying at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU), Suzhou to explain the story behind this intriguing title! For more abut Alex, check out his bio at the end of the post. Fieldwork comes with a plethora of challenges: some which can be foreseen and planned for, some which one learns about from experience, and others… others which…

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Things that go Bump in the Field

I have spent a lot of time at a lot of different field sites over the years. I have spent days in the blistering sun, days in the frigid cold, and days in the pouring rain, but until this spring, I had never spent any time in the field after dark. Every year, there is one field site with several kilometres of fencing that need monitoring to ensure the fence is in good working order.…

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Praia, Paradise, & Petrel Poop

We are excited to welcome Alyssa J. Sargent to the blog today. Alyssa is a PhD student at the University of Washington studying tropical hummingbird ecology. For more about Alyssa, see the end of this post. When seabirds colonize a tiny island, they truly reign. Humans no longer have the last word on dominance—at best, we are tolerated from a safe distance; at worst, we are considered threats most sensibly handled by mobbing. As tiny…

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Nest building

Early one May morning in 2019, I disembarked from the ferry in Port aux Basques, Newfoundland, bewildered and discombobulated from too many days of long-distance driving and too little sleep. The previous evening, I had left continental North America behind; however, I still had a long way to go before reaching my new home in St. John’s. The route from Port aux Basques to St. John’s. Back when I started planning my inter-provincial move, it…

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Studying a species you’re not sure exists

This week on the blog, we are happy to have Charlotte Hacker, a PhD student at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, who shares her adventures of studying the elusive snow leopard on the Tibetan Plateau of China. For more information about Charlotte, check out her bio at the end of the post! I have a confession to make… But first, some background. I’m a noninvasive conservation geneticist using DNA extracted from snow leopard scat to answer…

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We’re back!

After taking a much needed break over the summer, we at Dispatches from the Field are back in action and ready to bring you more stories of fieldwork adventure from researchers all over the world! Here in Canada, Sept. 21-27 is Science Literacy Week, and this year’s theme is “B is for Biodiversity”. One of the main goals of our blog is to bridge the gap between the elusive scientist and the public. Sharing our…

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