Monday, April 29, 2019

Welcome Karen!

Karen Tran
Apr 29th, 2019
I am a pre-medical student who just finished my Biology B.S. at UCLA in Winter 19. Usually at this point, I will start packing for my annual medical mission trip oversea with my surgical team. And since I don’t have to attend school for awhile, I anticipated to stay overseas for a few months at least. But I took EEB100 class in my last quarter and it changed my mind. Half of this course covers introduction to animal behavior. I’ve always been a fan of Biology, but studying about animals doing their things in nature took the “fun” to a whole new level. Long story short, I fell in love with Dan’s 2009 paper about his marmots (“A test of the multi-predator hypothesis: yellow-bellied marmots respond fearfully to the sight of novel and extinct predators”- highly recommended for those who haven’t seen it, super fun to read!) and got in touch with him to get a “free ride” to Crested Butte, Colorado to see these adorable creatures for myself!
The day we hiked in was sunny. I eagerly took out my ski and boots, put on my super heavy bag packed with clothes, food, and necessities (that could last me a week at a time at least)…And I couldn’t get my body up. Skiing is fun when you know how to not trip yourself in it (or sliding down the hill involuntarily and break your neck running into the trees below, I guess). I ended up walking for the most part. That day, it took me 4 hours to get to RMBL on foot. I was dead tired from all the walk and the cold…I was extremely hungry and my head hurts trying to acclimate to the elevation. I was, by no means, an athletic person. The most active I’ve ever been was doing cardio exercise for 15 minutes every day when I was at UCLA. Imagine the shock and the muscle soreness and the fatigue I faced that day (and many days after)…I honestly am not sure if I can someday recall that as a fond memory.
It has been almost two weeks since then, I’ve gotten better at skiing and it took less and less time for me to get to the marmot sites every day. I suspect that I’ve become healthier as well since I’ve been outside way too much. The mornings usually weren’t very cold (about 50F-60F), even though it could still snow a lot. It was usually around this time that the snow started melting away and the marmots started to emerge from their hibernacula. Marmots are cute, you have to see them in real life to fully grasp that idea. Dandelion, a male adult marmot for example, was a particularly chubby guy with adorably white-patched face.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Welcome Megan!

Hello! My name is Megan Edic. I am a first time marmoteer here at RMBL and am excited to see what the marmots and weather have in store for us!

I attended Northern Michigan University on a cross country skiing and running scholarship – so feel right at home zipping around RMBL this snowy spring season! I have worked as an environmental consultant, first monitoring Oregon spotted frog populations in Sun River, Oregon and then analyzing soil contamination in Fairbanks, Alaska. My interests have recently turned to ecology and animal behavior and I have thoroughly enjoyed joining the Blumstein lab to gain research experience and contribute to this long term study! I am currently working on a project studying the genetic factors that influence the hibernation emergence date in our furry friends.

This year has seen record snow fall in Gothic, CO, but surprisingly the past week here has been full of sunshine, hot temperatures, and fast melting snow. So far quite a few marmots have emerged up and down valley including the Gothic Townsite where King Dandelion has been roaming around the cabins collecting dried plants and checking on his numerous lady friends. His main, Stitches and their four adorable yearlings make the time recording social observations fly by! I am excited to be here and look forward to trapping the marmots later this spring!

Welcome Sam!

Hey I am Sam Beckert and I just completed my bachelors at UCLA! I’ve always had a passion for wildlife and the outdoors and somehow lucked out with this amazing opportunity to work at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Gothic, Colorado! I will be here all spring and summer focusing on marmots, and I am currently analyzing their social network positions.
We’ve only been here a little over a week and already so much has happened. We’ve been busy identifying the emergences of different colonies and marmots, while also getting trained to observe social behaviors. Already, I’ve noticed that each marmot has a totally unique personality! Additionally, the yearlings are adorable when they all play together, and make me excited to experience my first pup season this summer. In my spare time here I love to photograph or video the wildlife, and have already had a stunning fox sighting.

While the snow is beautiful I can’t wait for the wildflowers to begin popping up, and for the deer and moose to arrive.

Also, I’ve been told that some of the marmots collect little bouquets of flowers, which I can’t wait to see! Until then, here’s a little clip of Dandelion carrying some old grass towards his burrow while tail flagging.