Saturday, April 20, 2013

how to ruin a gibbon's day

If you're ever looking for a way to make a whole family of gibbons really upset, just put a fake predator underneath them. It will lead to at least an hour of nervous, frightened, frustrated behavior.

This is how I feel when we do the python experiments, sort of like a big bully. This is why we never do these experiments with neighboring groups within several days, sometimes it upsets the entire "neighborhood". So we strategically carry out our python experiments with groups on opposite sides of our research area so that no one gets upset multiple days in a row.

So, since we failed with the H group yesterday, we set out to find them again today. We were lucky and found them within an hour! We had to wait a while to start the scan because they weren't very visible. Finally, after the hour-long scan was complete we were ready to place the python. Once we found a spot that was suitable for the python, on a log that had some sun shining on it, we had to be very careful to place it there without being seen while also being sure the gibbons would eventually see it. Well we set the python down at 10:35am and it took them until 10:56 to notice it! It was a long wait, so I flopped down on a clear patch of ground on the hill and waited. When they did see it they were clearly unhappy, but instead of breaking into a loud chorus after a few minutes of murmuring at it like the other groups had done, they just let out soft cries and threatened it for about a half an hour. They shook branches and even sent a few crashing to the ground nearby, maybe to scare the python away. This obviously wasn't working though (since the python is fake...). Eventually, still uneasy they started to move off, but then, not satisfied that the python was still there they returned and continued their soft cries and threats. finally they moved off a second time and Julie removed the python. After she removed it, they returned again to check out the area, and left, and returned once again. Even after their soft cries slowly faded away, they were clearly still bothered by the idea that the snake might still be around. the entire group nervously scanned the ground as they finally moved on to their favorite feeding tree.

Anyway, like I said, this makes me feel a bit like a bully...but hey, its cool that we are getting a reaction, because the last person to use (a really unrealistic) python model, only got reactions from a few groups, while we've had reactions in all the groups we've tested so far!

So, that was our day in the field. Success! Here are some pictures of the H group:

 dad Felix grooming one of the juveniles
 one of the juveniles...happy and curious (pre-python)
 Felix, trying to figure out where the python went...
 Where is it?!
 And here is a picture of two leeches having some fun on my boot.

In other news, today my hunger is finally starting to get to me. I haven't been eating enough, and today it was consuming my thoughts. The past few days I've had oatmeal for breakfast, filling enough. I cave and eat an apple in the field around 10am. Then we get back between 12 and 2pm and I am usually to exhausted to think about making something (even a PB&J, so I sit around a bit and then shower. Then by the time I muster up the energy to eat, it just isn't enough. I didn't buy enough food at the store because I didn't know what to get and what would fit in the fridge. I also thought "Oh I can always go eat at the "restaurants" in the park. But wait, I feel awkward asking Julie for a ride down there, plus I don't know the hours. Julie doesn't seem to eat very much and its killing me! She stays in her room doing work after we get back from the field until evening time when she comes out to do more work, but I don't feel comfortable interrupting her to take me down to get some food! Its a struggle. So, I live on PB&J and scrambled egg sandwiches. I make the eggs in a rice cooker (yeah, I'm that good/desperate). And I demolish them and am left still hungry. So, I need to work on fixing this issue ASAP...

Well, that's it for today, getting up extra early 4:15am to be out in the field by 5:15. So here's a picture of the sunset and the resevoir, goodnight.

1 comment:

  1. Good work! I hope that you find some good solutions for the food; fieldwork takes a lot of fuel.