Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Back here again...

Hello (again)! 

This is my second summer in RMBL as a marmoteer. I was previously here in 2013 working on whether spontaneous behaviors are mistaken for flight initiation distances (they weren't!). After working here, I got to travel and work on some pretty cool projects, like training Burrowing Bettongs to avoid cats at Arid Recovery in South Australia and hanging out with the Meerkats of Meerkat Manor in South Africa. This year, I’m excited to be able to return to RMBL as a graduate student!

I’m studying innovation and social learning in the marmots. An innovation is either a completely new behavior that an individual is able to use or an old behavior that an animal is able to use in a new way. To test how innovative marmots can be, we are using a puzzle box, which has two solutions for the marmots to attempt to solve in order to get their beloved horse food. So far, we’ve had four innovating individuals(!) and several more individuals who are more interested in eating the plywood platforms or the cameras than solving the box. Marmots will be marmots! However, we’ve got a lot of great videos that we hope to be sharing! 

It has been a great season so far and we’re looking forwards to more! 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Introducing Sarah...

Hello ! My name is Sarah. I’m a rising senior at Keene State College located in Keene, NH. I’m a biology major with a psychology minor. I’m really interested in animal physiology, neurobiology, and behavior.  

I’m so excited to be joining the 2017 Marmoteers. I’ve always loved animals, particularly rodents. I always had hamsters, gerbils, and guinea pigs growing up. The second I laid eyes on a yellow-bellied marmot, I fell in love. Just the species name makes you smile…

I’m having an absolutely fantastic time here with the ladies of our lab. The days might be long, and field work can be tough, but I love being outside all day and observing the marmots play, interact, and explore their world. The mountains here are breathtaking ! It is incredibly beautiful.

Handling the marmots is one of my favorite things that we do. We take a variety of measurements – left hind foot, AG distance, assessing repro status, scoring docility behaviors - and we take blood, hair, and fecal samples. Despite their fat round bellies, the marmots are surprisingly strong!

I like to think the marmots are pretty similar to us. They hang out with their family, eat, and sun themselves on rocks most of the day. Seems like a pretty good life !

I’m so happy that I get to apply some skills I’ve learned recently in my Animal Behavior class, such as recording focals and scoring animal behaviors using an ethogram. I was hoping for a field research experience, and I couldn’t have asked for a better one !

Excited to see what else the summer brings…

Introducing Madi...

My name is Madi Standen and I'm a rising junior attending Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA. Back at school I study capuchins and squirrel monkeys and I am so thrilled to be able to broaden my horizons this summer and work with the amazing marmots of Gothic! I've been here for almost five weeks now and am absolutely loving the work (i've even gotten used to waking up at 5:15 every morning). 

When I first saw a marmot I couldn't imagine how trapping those little guys would ever be tough, but let me tell you those guys are strong. I've learned so much, like how to enter data, do a focal and even take blood from a marmot and I can't wait to see what the rest of the summer has in store for me. 

We have a killer team of marmoteers this year and everyone works together well and has a great time. The first pups came out earlier this week and we managed to catch one little guy, who we named power button and I can't wait to mark the rest of his siblings!

Here's to a great summer!

Introducing Alexis...

Hi, my name is Alexis and I'm an undergrad here at RMBL. This is my first summer here and I am so glad I made the right choice in joining the marmoteer group! My project for this summer is lateralization in marmots. Basically, I will be flushing (FID) them to determine whether they share an eye preference for risk assessment. Besides scaring them into their burrow, I'm helping out in trapping and recording social observations. Looking forward to the rest of the summer! (FYI pups are emerging are we are VERY excited).

Introducing Li--Busy and Happy!

I am Lijie Yin, come from Peking University, Beijing, China. I have studied white-headed langur in China over 15 years. I join Dan’s lab as a visiting scholar in UCLA. This is my first time to RMBL and first time to study marmot. Marmot was so cute that I often couldn’t help laughing when I observed them. Dan and his team have made long and outstanding studies. They taught me a lot. I am very grateful. RMBL is such a beautiful place, bringing together a lot of biologists and artists. YesI like RMBLI love this study!

Monday, June 19, 2017

It resumes--first pups spotted!

Hell is about to break loose--Madi just saw two pups emerge in Town at the library burrow.  The pup season has begun!

The mother has been very shy and skittish. She lost a lot of pups to the fox last year.  Time to catch them before the foxes do!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Dandelion--a man with a view

Jacki Aliperti shared this photo of Dandelion perched above Gothic commanding a great view of his well spaced harem.  Thanks Jacki for this wonderful photo!