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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What do you miss most about fieldwork?

As time slips by during the seemingly endless coronavirus pandemic, my plans for fieldwork keep changing. Even in a normal year, fieldwork can be unpredictable. However, when social distancing rules are in effect and uncertainty about how long this could last keeps growing, fieldwork plans may not even have a chance. At the beginning of the pandemic, the small window of time I had during the cormorant breeding season to conduct my field study still…

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How do solve a problem like migration?

This post was initially published on the Science Borealis blog on April 27th, 2020. Check out their blog for more great science stories, published every Monday! An ornithological pedicure: taking a claw clipping from a western bluebird for stable isotope analysis. Photo credit: Catherine Dale. I can feel the rapid thrumming of the bluebird’s heart against my palm as I carefully manoeuvre its foot into position over a tiny Ziploc bag. I pick up my…

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Of catbirds, chats, and challenges

We are excited to welcome Kristen Mancuso to the blog today! Kristen is a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia Okanagan studying songbird migration ecology and physiology. For more about Kristen, see the end of this post.  As I wrap up my PhD at the University of British Columbia Okanagan, I think back fondly on 4 summers of field work across North America. In collaboration with other organizations, I did fieldwork in northern…

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Good things in the world and on the horizon

I am a planner. I find comfort in knowing exactly when everything is happening. I plan out every month of the year, every week and every day. While I have become more flexible over the years, I still struggle when one of those things changes, especially at the last minute. With a global pandemic being announced regarding the coronavirus, I knew things would change in my schedule. Between Friday March 13th and Monday March 16th…

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I’m late for a very important date!

I don’t like to be late. I am the kind of person who arrives extra early to the airport just in case I can’t find the gate or I get stuck in security. If I am late for whatever reason, I feel incredibly anxious. So when my time at a field site is limited by the arrival and departure of a pre-scheduled boat, this is all amplified. When we arrived at Bonaventure Island with our…

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