strange behaviors

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  • Richard Conniff writes about behavior, in humans and other animals, on two, four, six, and eight legs, plus the occasional slither.

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Why Field Biologists Do What They Do

Posted by Richard Conniff on September 18, 2014

I like this account of working in the natural world.  I found it in an article by Don Lyman, about field work in a New Jersey salt marsh. (That’s my old habitat.  And “ticks on the delicates”? Yes, I have been there, too.)  The speaker is Yoel Stuart, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Texas at Austin:

“We like being surprised by nature. We enjoy watching an organism conduct some behavior in the field that we could have never seen in the lab. We enjoy finding organisms living in places we never would have expected them, like kilometers under the Antarctic ice. We enjoy the adventure of getting to new places and discovering species new to science. We take great pleasure in understanding how species interact with each other in the wild as they find food, avoid predators, reproduce, and pass genes on to the next generation. Nature never ceases to amaze, so we always return to nature, where we pursue knowledge for knowledge’s sake. To many of us, that’s worth bloody knuckles,

scraped shins, whining mosquitoes, simultaneous sunburn and hypothermia, ticks on the delicates, and mud in the ears.”

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