The good news: Team Marmot PhD student Tiffany Armenta just passed her PhD oral qualifying exams today. Way to go Tiffany.
Other personnel news includes:
PhD student Matt Petelle is working on his last dissertation chapter and plans to graduate in the spring.
PhD student Nicole Munoz is making great progress on a remarkably difficult mathematical model that needs to be written before she writes up her empirical marmot results.
PhD student Adrianna Maldonado is making progress on her population biology models.
And, it looks like we'll be having a new PhD student join the lab to work on marmots...stay tuned for details.
The 'interesting' news: There's a LOT of snow at RMBL (like over 2m!) and Nicole and Tiffany will be skiing in on the 17th and Line will follow them on the 18th to start our newest year of marmoteering. David Inouye wrote the other day that based on his calculations, the road will open on 27 May. billy quickly agreed that it's likely to be a long winter. The one piece of hope--there was a big dust storm that deposited a layer of red dust on the snow. When the sun hits the dust-covered snow, the snow can melt VERY quickly.
So, is a long winter good or bad for the marmots?
Well, the big die off of 2011 happened after an exceptionally long winter...and the recovery has taken a while. We have a lot resting on this year...insofaras we have planned experiments that require marmots. I expect that if the snow continues and doesn't melt very quickly that we'll have a lot of spring mortality--where the marmots emerge from hibernation through a large snowpack and then starve to death (because there is no food available) or are killed by waiting coyotes (and possibly foxes).
Stay tuned. I'd love to be out there (UCLA responsibilities call)...the valley is magical in a snowy spring!