|Capture of a bighorn sheep ram|
It is a bittersweet moment for an aspiring ecologist. Living life purely as a seasonal technician is a wonderful blend of challenge, excitement, and constant change. The past few years of my life as a tech have been the best I have ever had. At first, it was simply a desire to have adventure; but, as natural selection and forces outside of myself have taken action, this has given way to a striving for something more. And here I now sit, on the edge of change, waiting for new forces to suck me in. Graduate school looms! (Maybe I speak too soon, as I have not been "officially" accepted, but I'll take that risk). My advisor, Robert Garrott at Montana State University, and I are currently working out the details of what my program will look like, but it will definitely be related to the ecology of bighorn sheep and mountain goats in the greater Yellowstone area. You can read more about the overall project here: www.gyamountainungulateproject.com.
|My advisor, Robert Garrott, spying for mountain goats and bighorn sheep|
This is a terribly exciting prospect, and I can't wait to apply myself to the challenges of graduate school. The step of graduate school is a big one (as for most professions) and is daunting for sure, but with one more summer backpacking in the mountains and one more winter wrestling seals in Antarctica before I actually start my program...its looking pretty good.
What have I been up to lately? In February we captured several bighorn sheep for instrumentation with VHF and GPS collars. This month has been planning and logistics for next month (back in central Yellowstone to perform spring population surveys on the elk that have been monitored by this project for 20+ years) and for this summer (back in the Tom Miner Basin/Yellowstone National Park area to do presence-absence surveys for bighorn sheep and mountain goats). I was also honored to give a presentation to the Snake River Audubon Society on my travels to Antarctica and the Weddell seal research going on there...it was a BLAST with a great turnout of some great people.