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[PhD] Spring is coming

September 2, 2013

It’s been five months since we returned from the Ashmore Reef for the first time, and the next major trip is still another two months away. I have spent the coldest months of the winter in a very academic sort of hibernation: sitting in an office doing statistics, writing grant applications, and learning how to use a new software platform to simulate animal populations in a spatially-explicit, individually-based way.

From the first of those, I hope to have co-authorship on a paper about shark bycatch reduction sometime in the near future. From the second, I rather hope that I will get some money. From the third, I hope it’ll give me detailed, biologically-sensible null hypotheses to test my genetic data against. It’s called HexSim, and it looks hopeful. I also have a paper in review, for which I expect reviewer comments at essentially any time – it has just passed the three-months-since-submission mark by which most reviewers submit their reviews.

In downtime, I’ve become associated with the Victorian Wader Study Group, with who I’ve been out cannon-netting twice. Catches were nonexistent on one occasion and light on the other, but I’ve now stuck tags on both Sooty and Pied Oystercatchers. I may well join them in Broome for a major knot-catching expedition this year, as it happens the week before I have to be in Broome to head back to Ashmore. I’ve also become associated with a local bat-monitoring group looking at local Melbournian microbats although, without rabies shots, I’m not allowed to handle them.

Your correspondant with Sooty A1Must get rabies shots.


The plan for the next twelve months is looking promising: there is a seabird conference in Alaska that I would dearly love to present some data at, and a landscape genetics workshop in Germany shortly after that. Some preliminary research suggests there are good collections of seabirds in Dutch museums from colonies near the Ashmore reef, so all going well I may be able to get some more data while in Europe as well.

This is, of course, contingent on being allowed to take samples from these birds at all, and further, on being allowed to export those samples from the European Union. Our existing Australian import permit lets us bring avian samples into the country, so that part, at least, should present no trouble.

Odd trips to the Ashmore and nearby islands pop up occasionally, too. One of my labmates is on Ashmore at the moment, deploying loggers, making observations, collecting plastic and, I hope, gathering some more tern and noddy eblood samples. Another trip came back recently, piggy-backing on a trip to Adele Island with the Bureau of Meteorology, who were installing a new weather station. Yet another small trip is potentially upcoming, again to Adele, although details are scarce. Still, there is a buzz, and data is being generated. Maybe spring will break up that very-academic hibernation a little.



From → Scientist

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