February 18, 2007

CardinalCrepeMyrtle by Debby Cotter Kaspari

Cardinal Crepe Myrtle by Debby Cotter Kaspari 

One advantage of living in the southern Great Plains (especially after having grown up in the northern Great Plains) are the hints of spring that emerge about now.

In the past few days we’ve heard our first Northern Cardinals (who always sound Norweigan to me),  and Redwing Blackbird males (whose song sounds like the opening notes to the old National Geographic theme). Its wonderful to think how a dose of avian testosterone can improve the moods of other fellow members of the oak savannah ecosystem.

Any signs of the season’s passing where you are, gentle readers?


QOTD: Annals of field biology

February 18, 2007

Robert Sapolsky on field biology“[Park officials and researchers]..occupy fairly different worlds. The former are government bureaucrats who, when based in the field, wear uniforms or, when based in government offices, suits and ties; the latter, by contrast tend toward torn jeans. The former think about issues like how to increase the flow of tourism in their park, while the latter would just as well get rid of those irritating tourists entirely, so that they can study their one species of ant in idyllic peace. editor’s note: Huzzah! The former tend to be pragmatic realists who function in a realpolitik world; the latter tend toward hysterics and causes and pride themselves on having no social skills. The former typically have wildlife management degrees, while the latter tend toward more prestigious degrees from fancy-ass universities and then, in a way that the former seem to find to be almost viscerally offensive, choose to live like Luddite pigs in leaky tents. And most of all, the former seem to exist merely to shit on the spirit of every park regulation they can get away with.”

Robert Sapolsky, A Primate’s Memoir

editor’s note part deux: A Primate’s Memoir captures life as a graduate student/field biologist perhaps better than any book. Furthermore, Sapolsky’s clarity and humor is a model for anybody who wants to write or teach better.