This post is way overdue!
Starting in February, I have been working at the Hastings Natural History Reserve in wonderful Carmel Valley, CA. My postdoc with Walt Koenig, a senior researcher at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, focuses on acorn production in local oaks, and the consequences that the variation thereof has on seed predation and dispersal by western scrub-jays.
This fall, my crew and I will be color-banding and chasing jays to find out what they do with their acorns, and how that behavior is affected by different contexts of seed-availability and social interactions.
The article "Stand structure and acorn production in island scrub oaks (Quercus pacifica)" has been accepted to the California Island Symposium Monograph of the Western North American Naturalist. Together with our colleagues from The Nature Conservancy, the island scrub-jay crew has been surveying oak trees across S. Catalina, S. Rosa and of course S. Cruz islands. We found that the three island populations vary tremendously in their stand densities and acorn production, but that the variation does not seem associated with the presence of seed predators and dispersers. We also present the first five years of acorn count data that we collected to figure out if island scrub oaks are classic masting oaks. We will continue counting acorns in the future, in order to understand the effect of varying acorn crops on Santa Cruz wildlife.
What an honor! PBS NOVA featured a modified version of BBC's "Inside the Animal Mind" that featured footage of island scrub-jays handling acorns. They also show a short interview sequence in which I describe basic scatter-hoarding of seeds. Overall, the show is a great summary of ideas around avian cognition that features the work of many of my dear colleagues around the world.
Bird brains unite!
Find the full show here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/nature/inside-animal-minds.html#animal-minds-birds
The monthly newsletter of the Office for Graduate Studies at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln is featuring a piece on my long path from Vienna, to Lincoln, to D.C. Please check out the nice article here:http://www.unl.edu/gradstudies/current/news/node/359
After returning from a hectic trip to the West Coast, I am happy to share that our jays will be featured as part of a BBC documentary on animal minds. For three restless days, we showcased the jays, their scatter-hoarding and the beauty of the island. The weather and the birds played along, and I even managed to sound somewhat coherent during my on-camera interview.
We are all excited to see the final product, which will hit the UK market by the end of the year. The footage may also be featured on BBC world and NOVA, and I'll make sure to provide an update once I know more.
As a nature enthusiast from the early days, I have always enjoyed the National Geographic Magazine. One page that often invited me to stop and inspect it closer was the "Wildlife as Canon sees it" advertisement campaign. By combining a stunning photograph of some rare or endangered critter with interesting bits of information, the ads have always struck me as a great way to draw attention to conservation issues while creating a great brand association. And let's admit it, who doesn't enjoy using a Canon camera when encountering unique wildlife?
The world-famous photographer and regular NGM contributor Joel Sartore coordinates the photo selection and information gathering for the campaign. When his long-time assistant Katie Joseph moved on to law school, Joel contacted my PhD adviser Al Kamil looking for a highly motivated biologist that could gather and verify the information that Canon uses in their ads. After a few emails and phone calls, we agreed on working together. I am very proud to be associated with such a reputable campaign and look forward to a lasting collaboration!
I am happy to share that I have received a one-year fellowship provided by the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (BIG 10 Schools & U of Chicago) and the Smithsonian Institution. The fellowship will allow me to work with Scott Sillett at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute at the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C. There, I plan to write up my dissertation and develop a simulation model of scatter-hoarding as seed dispersal mode.
Here the announcement and a couple of articles:
UNL Press Release
Daily Nebraskan (UNL student paper)
Welcome to my new website.
I plan to use it as a platform to share some of my research and adventures with you.
two older blogs I used to run: