Saturday, December 11, 2010

Meet Team Marmot: Allie Anderson

Hello from chilly Wisconsin!

My name is Allie Anderson, and I am the most recent Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) student to work with the Marmot Crew. While most of the Marmoteers are based at UCLA, I hail from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where I am a 4th year undergraduate student studying biology. This summer I was fortunate to be placed with Team Marmot through RMBL’s REU program that is funded by the National Science Foundation. I spent the summer collecting data for the lab as well as conducting my own research project investigating the effects of burrow distance on anti-predator vigilance behaviors in marmots.

My project looks at how marmots respond to the risk of being eaten as they travel farther from the safety of their burrow to forage. Marmots must eat and get fat in order to survive the winter hibernation, but eating requires marmots to leave their burrows, increasing the risk that they will become a predator’s tasty snack. I predicted that marmots would increase their vigilance behaviors as they moved farther from the burrow, but interestingly, I did not find this to be the case. There was only a significant change in marmot foraging behavior when other marmots were in the area.

Look for more updates as I continue working on my paper this winter.

Marmot pics courtesy of Yvonne Chi.