Saturday, June 18, 2022

Welcome McKenna

Hi everyone! 

My name is McKenna Sanchez, and I am a rising senior majoring in Ecology and Conservation Biology at Texas A&M University. This is my first season of field work, and I am very excited to be a marmoteer this summer!  I am a Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory REU student, and my project is focusing on flight initiation distance and summer survival in marmots. I am originally from Katy, Texas where I can be found reading, birding, playing soccer, or attending musicals. I have loved working with the marmots and marmoteers so far, and I can’t wait for all the adorable pups to show up!

Friday, June 17, 2022

Foxes outfoxing us and the marmots...

We have a fox family in town (again!) and they've been able to kill several yearlings and at least 1 adult. This is exceptional. Mostly the foxes kill pups...but by killing adults they really enhance their impact on the population. It's really taking a toll on the marmots in town.

Louis was able to chase one down the other day and id the marmot (a yearling named Dragonfly). He then, kindly, returned Dragonfly to the fox...who stuffed it into her mouth and marched off to feed it to her 3 adorable kits. Sigh.

Welcome Mackenzie!

Hi all! I’m Mackenzie, a first-year master’s student at UCLA. This is my first field season at RMBL, and what an experience it’s been so far! 

One of the advantages of arriving with the early season crew is witnessing the dramatic change in seasons. From cross country skiing between field sites, to now wading through waist-deep vegetation, the landscape has completely transformed. 

This explosion in greenery is beautiful, but it’s created new challenges in terms of my field work. My thesis is all about marmot shyness-boldness, which means that I need to collect Flight Initiation Distances from each individual marmot. This entails walking steadily towards a marmot until it runs away—sounds simple, right? It was in the snow, but now the vegetation has turned my subjects into tiny plant-munching submarines that completely disappear in the seas of tall grass. Thankfully my FID partner McKenna and I have collected data from almost all the animals, but just like Pok√©mon, we gotta catch ‘em all! 

When I’m not (quite literally) chasing after marmots, I like to spend my time puzzling over crosswords, experimenting with plant-based recipes, and brainstorming names for my future dog. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the season brings!

Welcome Madison!


My name is Madison Pfau, and I am a senior at UCLA studying the microbiome and social behavior in the wonderful marmots at RMBL! I have been working in the Blumstein lab for almost 2 years now, and studying marmots for almost a year!

One of the most exciting things about being a marmoteer this year is being able to see and collect data from these animals that I have been working with and fascinated by since I joined the lab. I have also learned way more about the process of fieldwork and what goes into collecting a rich dataset, a skill I think will come in handy for future field and research opportunities. My favorite marmot moments so far have been watching marmots playfully wrestle, especially when the one that initially receives the interaction retaliates by initiating another wrestle, or my personal favorite, a pounce!

When I am not watching marmots every chance I get, I like hiking and exploring the area and listening to creepy podcasts! 

Welcome Hali!

Hi, my name is Hali Muir and I’m a rising third year biology undergrad at UCLA on the 2022 summer marmot team! I’m a nature lover from Santa Cruz, California, and whenever I visit home, you’ll find me surfing on my hot pink foam board from sunrise to sunset, or on poorly planned road trips to car camp in the hills above the clouds in Big Sur. Aside from my passion for redwoods and fresh air, I’m a trained dancer and avid musical theater lover. My project this season focuses on NDVI satellite imagery and how the varying resolutions predict marmot fitness when compared to manual data. It’s my first season out in the field with the team, and I got up close and personal with a marmot for the first time today! I’m so excited for what’s to come.

Welcome Carol-Ann Chabot

From the top of my five feet, I have the pleasure to take part of the fieldwork of the Marmot Project based at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory for the summer of 2022. Being part of this project will give me the background knowledge to conduct my research on the reproductive strategies of the female yellow-bellied marmots for my MS at the University of Ottawa. More specifically, I am interested in the causes and consequences of the age at first reproduction.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Predation in the wild!

Hi! I’m Conner Philson and this is my third year studying the marmots here at RMBL! I’ve spent quite a few hours looking at marmots over the past three years. I’ve seen marmots duel for territory, fend off foxes, and just chill out on rocks. However, I never saw a marmot get chased down by a coyote at full speed before – until last week…


Coffee Bean was a beautiful yearling marmot (meaning they were born last year). Coffee Bean roamed one of the northern most areas we study – far up the East River Valley. While an adventurous and interactive marmot, Coffee Bean sadly could not outrun a coyote that spent this faithful morning stalking marmots from the trees. As the coyote bolted out of the trees and made chaise of Coffee Bean, they both headed for the nearby burrow – a marmot’s protection from predators. However, poor Coffee Bean missed the burrow by only a matter of feet by the time the coyote caught up - but as goes the circle of life. It was a beautiful and gruesome moment, but what describes nature better than that. I’m excited for what else this season will bring!