It's been a rough few months...I submitted two manuscript revisions (one of which has been accepted! Huzzah!)! I went to New York City to be a panelist at the Better with Pets Summit! And I'm madly preparing for my final experiment that I hope will lead to my receiving a PhD sooner rather than later.
But, until the graduate school tidal wave returns...it's time to find out what squirrels have been up to for the last two months (no surprise, they've been busy).
Squirrels’ Reign of Terror
Marin County on high alert
The biggest news of late is the report of EIGHT separate squirrel attacks in a neighborhood in Novato, CA. Some of the attacks occurred when a squirrel jumped from a tree onto its victim. The problem began a few weeks ago, when the squirrel entered a school, biting a teacher and a student before being chased out of the building.
If a salamander is going to make babies, they have to head to a vernal pool. In some places, that means a deadly trek across a freeway, resulting in many (50-100%) squished amphibians. Conservationists in New Hampshire started a Citizen Science program to track both live and dead salamanders and give them a little help crossing the road. The Salamander Brigade has over 600 volunteers and helped 25K salamanders get to the pool, and hopefully, find a mate. They've also started photographing and ID-ing salamanders by their individual markings, and found that many of the same salamanders make the cross-freeway trek year after year! So COOL!
I love the idea of public contributions to scientific data collection! Recent publications that utilized citizen science include observations of gulls, foxes, geese, lady beetles and beach garbage. Read more about it here!
Three new marsupial species discovered in Australia; have sex until they disintegrate
It's gotta be tough being a male antechinus; you have sex until your body falls apart and then you die from stress while still desperately seeking one last "romp." It seems like a bad idea, but I guess as long as you get your sperm passed along before you pass, it will get your genes out into the world and your offspring will likely follow the same lifestyle. I'd like to know what the lady antechinus are up to. Read more here.
Citizen Science - Sea Lion Identification
When I hear about projects that get the general public interested in - and actually DOING - science, I get excited. Scientists in Western Australia are interested in how crowd-sourced photos of sea lion snouts can help them reliably identify individuals by their unique whisker patterns. Booyah!
Cats are more active before feeding time
If you have a cat, you may already know this - I even made a movie about my cat's obsessive circling around the house before mealtime:
Scientists have now found EVIDENCE that cats are more active by having them wear activity monitors and manipulating the number of times a day while holding the total amount of food constant! Feeding cats multiple, small meals a day increases their active time and may be a good strategy for preventing obesity (Personally, I also like food puzzles for cats!).