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: https://twitter.com/TeamMarmot


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 @ gothicwx.org) 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.