Friday, August 3, 2018

Student talks 2018!

Wow: what a busy summer. I've been tweeting to our TeamMarmot twitter account but have had no time to blog...

I just left the field following an excellent research symposium featuring Team Marmot.  Photos below:

Julia talking about human impacts...

Catherine talking about marmot innovation...

Eliza talking about human disturbance at marmot colonies...

Anita talking about how marmots may increase summer survival if they are more social...

Katherine talking about a communication network in white-crowned sparrows...

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Welcome Alex!

Hello, my name is Alexandra Jebb and I am a first year PhD student at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. I have been lucky enough to be selected to work on the Marmot Project by my supervisor Julien Martin and was very excited to get started!

I will be working on ecological and evolutionary topics by combining investigations in to the long-term data and laboratory analysis of physiological markers in blood samples. My key aim is to look into adaptive concepts such as the predictive effects of early life environment on how well suited an individual is to their adult environment (focussing on Silver Spoon Effects and the Predictive Adaptive Response).

So far I have been well looked after by the marmot team and Dan and have been learning to handle individuals and to observe the colonies. Already I have been charmed by these animals and their quirks and can't wait to spend many more months in their company! 

Please feel free to follow my twitter @AHMJebb1 if you want to see how I get on!

Saturday, June 9, 2018

early June update

I've been back out in the field since Memorial Day and it's been crazy busy. Julien has been visiting and we're all working on a new workflow to use tablet computers to save time updating all the trap bags. I've always been skeptical of using tablets for data collection because if you collect data and they break before they can be backed up you've lost everything, and because you can do a lot with data sheets and notes which then later get abstracted into formal electronic data sheets for analysis. Anyway, after a lot of discussion, we're taking the plunge. Data will still be written down on paper when we're trapping animals but it will be entered into the computer immediately upon return to the lab and all the tablets will sync with the newest trapping data. This should save a lot of time. Julien has programmed in a lot of checks on data to hopefully reduce entry errors. Fingers crossed.

Gizmodo was here the other day filming the marmot project as part of a series on field stations around the world. Excited to see what emerges from that.

Trapping is going well, but since there's so much delicious green food around, marmots are a bit less interested in our bait. Oh well. The challenges of fieldwork.

Ipek Kulachi, a postdoc who studies cognition in the wild, has been visiting. We've been talking a bunch about possible projects.

We're still training new people as they arrive. Julien came with his graduate student Alex, who will introduce herself shortly. Three more new folks to go!

RMBL summer program is officially beginning today. The valley is beginning to get busy and I'm spending my 'day off' catching up with correspondence and other projects. Back to that!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Welcome Anita Montero

My name is Anita Montero and I am a rising senior at Barnard College of Columbia University, studying biology and sociology. I am interested in behavioral ecology, particularly mammal sociality. I am also interested in the process of using scientific knowledge to further conservation efforts and improve land management strategies. 

Last summer I interned at the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, researching the impact of ocean acidification on zooplankton. During the school year, I work at a paleoecology biogeochemistry lab at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and I just completed an ecology and evolution field semester in Kenya. 

I’ve loved marmots for a few years now and was excited to meet some Olympic marmots while living in Seattle last summer, so working on this project is a dream come true. It’s a privilege to work on such a long-running field study, particularly in a year with abnormally low snowfall. This summer I’m looking forward to working with team marmot to puzzle out the relationship between social integration and summer survival. So far I’ve enjoyed learning animal handling techniques and getting to know the marmots here at Rocky Mountain Biological Station. They all have such unique personalities! 

Welcome Julia Nelson!

I’m Julia! I’m a rising third year undergrad student and Levine Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte studying Biology. My previous research includes looking at microbial communities in ocean water and studying the impact of climate change on butterfly location and occurrence. In the fall, I will be joining NC State's Wildlife Aerial Observatory program researching how drones can be used in anti-poaching efforts in Namibia. I am still in the process of discovering what I want to study long-term, but I'm currently interested in researching trophic cascades as a reason for the reintroduction/preservation of keystone species. 

I will be in Gothic, Colorado at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory doing a human impact study on marmots for the summer; specifically how motorized vehicles, bicycles, and hikers impact different physiological traits in marmots. As an avid hiker and aspiring ecologist, I'm excited to combine these two personal identities through field work. I look forward to gaining experience in handling critters safely, contributing to a long-term research database, and taking steps towards figuring out where I want to ultimately go in research and conservation. I’ve been at RMBL for almost two weeks now and I’m so excited to continue to learn from Alyssa, Dana, and Dr. Blumstein and to meet the other members of Team Marmot!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Team Marmot is now (finally) on Twitter

Bowing to the tremendous pressure from our fans, we've now joined the last decade and are now sharing our marmot news on Twitter! We'll post the newest information on who is courting whom and who is fighting with whom. And news about the pups and publications.

Follow us at:

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Welcome Alyssa Morgan

My name is Alyssa Morgan, a current Masters student in the Blumstein lab at UCLA and I am broadly interested in anthropogenic disturbance effects. My current work aims to develop a comprehensive understanding of anthropogenic disturbance on yellow bellied marmots at RMBL.

Previously work includes looking at chierchiae octopus reproduction at UC Berkeley, habitat fragmentation impacts on arthropod fauna at Whittier College, and restoration efforts effects in the Santa Monica Mountains alongside the SM National Park Service.

This is my first time doing field work outside of the southwest so I'm excited to study a new environment and seeing snow for the first time was amazing (and quite cold)!

Welcome back Dana!

This is Dana, back for a third summer because once RMBl has you, it doesn’t let you go. For those who don’t know me, I am now a second year PhD Candidate at UCLA. My dissertation works focuses on innovation and social learning in the marmots, which I test by giving the marmots puzzle boxes to solve.  

This year, I am the field manager and I’m really looking forwards to working with our new crew. So far, the weather has been interesting- this year almost had the lowest snow fall since billy barr has been recording (check his daily and seasonal gothic weather @ and almost all of down valley is already melted out. As per usual, I have spent most of my time up valley at Picnic and over the past week we’ve had over 20 marmots emerge! We were concerned that the low snowpack would impact their overwinter survival, but so far it looks like our fears may have been unfounded. Things are ramping up fast this year, but still excited to see all our old marmot friends and meet some new ones in June! 

For more marmot/RMBL action, you can follow me on Instagram: @thelivingfrom 

Welcome Sarah McNicholas

My name is Sarah McNicholas, but call me McNick! I'm a volunteer from Crested Butte and I've wanted to be on the marmot team ever since I first visited RMBL last summer. I fell in love with the mountains in Gothic and had my eye set on doing field work out here. My experience trapping small mammals with the National Ecological Observation Network (NEON), studying animal behavior in college, and my love of the outdoors has only prepared me for some of what this project requires. I've never cross-country skied before this and now I'm skiing with my amazing team to all of our breathtaking field sites. 

The marmots are starting to emerge from their hibernation burrows and I can already tell each one has their own funny personality within their social structures. I can't wait to start trapping them to get to know them better. Hands-on field work is super enjoyable for me and I love studying mammals because their behavior never fails to humor me. I feel honored to help contribute to this 50+ years study. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

And again...

I got up early (before 4 AM) to catch the 5:45 flight to Denver. Now I'm sitting in DIA waiting for a flight to Gunnison. Tomorrow we ski back into RMBL to resume the marmot study. It's always weird not knowing really what to expect. Who survived the winter.  Who didn't.  This year has been a record year of very little snowfall (the worst snowpack since 1976). As billy writes on the Gothic Weather page:

The least snowfall ever in a winter was 1976-77 which had 474 cm (186½"), a record i doubted would ever be beaten. As you can see from above, this winter now needs 10" more snow or it becomes the winter with the least snowfall.  HOWEVER, the 1976-77 winter had a total of 11.60" of water from snow and this winter has already gone far past that so in reality this will NOT be the driest snow winter, just- maybe- the winter with the least amount of snowfall.

It's forecast to snow on/off all day tomorrow with wind gusts, and then the temperature will drop to the teens. Welcome back to Gothic...

I'm around for a week, opening my cabin (usually this is a euphemism for fixing the plumbing!), and training folks before heading back to LA next Weds. We were hoping to have 4 people working this spring but, for a variety of reasons, only Dana, Trey, and Alyssa will be there for the first month. They will get to see Gothic come alive, figure out who has survived, and hang with our resident coyotes before more people arriving in the valley scare them into the shadows.

This is my favorite time of year. Quiet. Cool. And, oh so very interesting.

Friday, January 5, 2018

International Marmot Meeting in Mongolia!

Dear colleagues,

The Institute of General and Experimental Biology of Mongolian Academy of Sciences and the Commission on Marmots Investigation of the Theriological Society at the Russian Academy of Sciences are convening the 7th International Conference on the Genus Marmota in Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) on August 13-17, 2018. All professionals interested in studying and conservation of marmots are invited to participate in the conference. The First announcement of the Conference is in an attachment. Please, spread the conference information widely.

We congratulate everyone with Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Adiya Yansanjav
Director of the Institute of General and Experimental Biology of the Academy of Sciences of Mongolia

Oleg Brandler
Chairman of the Commission on Marmots Investigation of the Theriological Society RAS

Commission on Marmots Investigation,
Theriological Society, Russian Academy of Sciences
Koltsov Institute of Developmental Biology
Russian Academy of Sciences, 
Vavilov St., 26, Moscow, Russia, 119334
Phone/Fax: +7(499) 135-75-83,


First announcement

Conference organizers:
Institute of General and Experimental Biology, Mongolian Academy of Sciences;
Commission on Marmots Investigation of the Theriological Society at the Russian Academy of Sciences;
Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports of Mongolia;
Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism of Mongolia;
Mammalian Ecology Society of Mongolia;
Center for the Study of Natural Focal Diseases of Mongolia;
A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of Russian Academy of Sciences;
N.K. Koltzov Institute of Developmental Biology of Russian Academy of Sciences;
Joint Russian–Mongolian Complex Biological Expedition of Russian Academy of Sciences and Academy of Sciences of Mongolia
Scientific and Organizing Committees:
Scientific Committee:
Prof. Kenneth B. Armitage, University of Kansas, USA;
Prof. B. Avid, Secretary General, Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Mongolia;
Dr. Adiya Yansanjav, Institute of General and Experimental Biology, MAS, Mongolia;
Prof. Daniel T. Blumstein, University of California, UCLA, USA;
Dr. Oleg Brandler, N.K. Koltzov Institute of Developmental Biology, RAS & Commission on Marmots Investigation of Russian Theriological Society, Russia;
Dr. Alexander Esipov, Chatkal Reserve, Uzbekistan;
Dr. Daniela Lenti Boero, UniversitĂ© de la VallĂ©e d’Aoste, Italy;
Prof. Viktor Mashkin, Vyatka State Agricultural Academy, Russia;
Prof. Alexander Nikol’skii, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, Moscow, Russia;
Dr. G. Nyamdavaa, Ministry of Environment and Tourism of Mongolia;
Dr. D. Odgerel, Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports of Mongolia;
Dr. Sergei Pole, Kazakhstan;
Prof. Viktor Tokarskii, V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, Ukraine;
N. Tsogbadrakh, Center for the Study of Natural Focal Diseases of Mongolia.
Organizing Committee
Adiya Yansanjav – Co-Chair, IGEB, MAS (;
Oleg Brandler – Co-Chair, IDB, RAS (;
Lkhagvasuren Badamjav – Conference Secretary, IGEB, MAS (;
Gantulga Gankhuyag – Assistant, IGEB, MAS (

Scientific program:
The program of the Conference provides agenda of plenary and poster sessions in different areas of marmot studies.

Conference Themes:
  • Phylogeny and Taxonomy
  • Paleontology and Paleoecology
  • Ecology
  • Morphology
  • Physiology
  • Genetic
  • Behavior
  • Diseases, Parasites and Epizootics
  • Exploitation, conservation management and education
  • Marmots in captivity
  • Marmots in folk traditions

Official language of the Conference will be English. The possibility of translation from Russian and Mongolian will be considered.

The post-conference field excursion to the Khustai National Park will be held within the Conference program.
Optional tours to different sites will be offered later.
Registration and Abstract Submission
A complete Registration Form should be sent before March 31, 2018 to e-mail: and
Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on the Genus Marmota will be printed before the beginning of the Conference. Each registered participant has the option to publish an abstract or an article on materials of the report. A language of abstracts is English. Articles must be in English and participants have the option to add a short summary or full text of the article in their native language.
Instructions for Abstracts
Abstracts should include the following:
Author name(s):
E-mail address:
Text is not exceeding than 3000 letters including spaces; no Figs., no References; name of species and genera in Italics.
Instructions for Articles
Manuscripts should be prepared as follows:
1. Title.
2. Author/s.
3. Institution/s and address/es.
4. Abstract. Appropriate length of abstracts are 250 words.
5.Text should be typed by Times New Roman 12 pt, double-spaced with 2.5 sm margins all round (including tables, footnotes, references, and figure legends) and not exceeding than 25 pages including tables and figures.
6. Illustrations should be included in the text, numbered in a single series throughout in Arabic numerals and provided with legends. Additionally, illustrations should be submitted as separate files in TIFF format not less 600 dpi resolution.
7. Tables should be numbered consecutively in Arabic numerals. The explanation of used symbols should be typed as note to the end of each table.
8. Acknowledgements. All acknowledgements (including those for grant and financial support) should be typed in one paragraph directly, preceding the references section.
9. References. All references should be written in the text, as follows: “Wilson (1990) states...” or “Wilson (1990: 21) states...” when the author wishes to refer to a specific page, or “(Wilson, 1990)” as the author of a statement. Joint authors must be connected by “&” in both the text and references. When there are more than two authors use “et al.” (Wilson et al., 1990) in the text. If more than one reference by the same author/s published the same year is used, add a, b, c after the year in both the text and list. The references must list all the authors quoted in the text in alphabetical order, without numbers. The names of all the authors should be given, and the titles of periodicals given in full, not abbreviated. For books, cite title, edition (if any), place of publication, name of publisher.
Corbet G.B., 1978. The Mammals of the Palaearctic Region: A Taxonomic Review. British Museum (Natural History), London.
Wilson D.E. & Reeder D.-A.M. (editors). 2005. Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed). Johns Hopkins University Press.
Steppan S.J., Akhverdyan M.R., Lyapunova E.A., Fraser D.G., Vorontsov N.N., Hoffmann R.S., Braun M.J. 1999. Molecular Phylogeny of the Marmots (Rodentia: Sciuridae): Tests of Evolutionary and Biogeographic Hypotheses. Systematic Biology. 48 (4), 715–734.

Abstracts and articles should be saved as separate Microsoft Word files. The file name must begin with the name of the first author. Abstracts/articles should be sent before April 30, 2018 to e-mail: and
Registration Fee
Standard registration fees are US$100 per person. This price includes participation in plenary sessions, organizing, mail expenses, publishing of the proceedings, coffee breaks and lunches during the conference. Registration fees for students will be US$50. Deadline for registrations is April 30, 2018.
A late registration fee will be applied after April 30, 2018.

Early bird registration, payment before April 30, 2018:            100 US$ (students 50 US$)
Payment after April 30, 2018:                                            120 US$ (students 60 US$)
Accompanying persons                                                     50 US$
Second circular
More detailed information will be provided in the second circular including payment options, accommodation details and preliminary program.
31.03.2018   registration;
30.04.2018   abstract/articles submission and payment of standard registration fees.
Travel information
How to reach Ulaanbaatar:
Air connections:
Flights available from
1. Berlin & Frankfurt, Germany (MIAT) via Moscow, Russia,
2. Tokyo & Osaka, Japan, Seoul, Jeju & Busan Republic of Korea, (MIAT, Korean Air, JAL);
3. Beijing (MIAT, AirChina) & Huhhot, China (MIAT)
4. Moscow (MIAT, Aeroflot) & Irkutsk (MIAT), Russia;
5. Istanbul, Turkey (Turkish Airlines) via Bishkek, Kirgizstan;
6. Bangkok, Thailand (MIAT);
Train connections:
Moscow-Ulaanbaatar (5 days);
Beijing-Ulaanbaatar (3 days);
Information on
Khustain Nuruu National Park:

7th International Conference on Genus Marmota

"Marmots of Old and New Worlds"


Registration Form

Registration deadline is 31 March, 2018

Given name and Surname:
E-mail address:

I would present:
[   ] an oral presentation
[   ] a poster presentation
                        Author(s) and institution(s) :
                        Title :
[   ] I require accommodation at a hotel for …….. nights for ............ person(s).
                                    Date of arrival                       …./08/2018
                                    Date of departure    …./08/2018

Please e-mail the Registration Form to the Organizing Committee and