Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back in Action for Fall 2011!

Hi everybody!

Thank you for bearing with me while I took a short break - between wrapping up the last few days of trials, packing all of our equipment and gear (not to mention my own things!), and heading back to the U.S., it was quite a busy couple of weeks.

In order to keep Adventures in Toading alive and running this fall, I've made an executive decision. Instead of posting information as I get it and kind of being all over the place, I'm going to do scheduled posts twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Having a schedule will be better for me (because I will have set times and days to post, and I won't forget during the busy school year), and better for you as well (you'll know exactly when I'll be putting up new information).

On Tuesdays, I'll post about research - either mine, a lab mate's or something that's been recently published that I find interesting and relevant. I am also planning to do 2 special feature posts each month; a "How To" which will talk about how to build experimental setups, put together ideas, and create other general items and strategies for conducting a research project. The other will be a "Real World Update", which will cover information from a recent journal article that is particularly relevant to the real world, and could even influence you!

On Thursdays, I'll post general discussion topics such as Animal Behavior, careers as a scientist, the science stigma, and so forth. Feel free to use these discussion topics in class or with your friends, or leave a comment with your opinion. I'm excited to hear what everyone has to say.

Since today is Tuesday, it's time for my research update. I am pleased to report that almost everything went off without a hitch this summer; I've got complete experiment data for 20 cane toads, and 5 trials worth of data for 7 leaf litter toads. This means lots of video analysis for me in the next few weeks. I am about halfway done running the cane toad videos through Ethovision, but I still have to do all of the leaf litter toads. I didn't pay any attention to what was going on during those trials, but there were some mealworms missing from bowls, so it will be interesting to see if they actually ate, or if the mealworms were just escaping (the little ones are really good at crawling out or burrowing down into the tape that covers the bowls). So yeah, video analysis is in my future. Also, I'll be going back to Lubbock at the end of this week, and rebuilding the arena in the cane toad lab. Then, in a few weeks, we'll be starting the whole experiment all over again with the toads from the lab. Busy, busy fun times for me!

As a parting note, I'll leave you with a video from the Ecological Society of America (ESA) 2011 Conference, which was here in Austin, Texas last week. Professional conferences like these gather a large crowd - ESA usually has about 4,000 attendees! - and serve as a giant venue for ecologists to get together, talk about research, network, and do other ecology-related activities. This year's conference was in the live music capital of the world, so of course there was a local band playing every day at lunch break. And of course, no matter how old or young, in the field or not, ecologists just know how to have fun. :)

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