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The purpose of this podcast is to engage with the scientists who are contributing to our understanding of living and extinct vertebrates. Each episode is 20 minutes long.

Podcast hosts in Vertebrate Biology Fall 2022 with Hootie, the tortoise.

(not in phylogenetic order)

Episode 1: Caroline and Andrew speak with Prof. Keri Wilson

Episode 2: Cecilia and Daniela speak with Prof. Solomon-Lane

Episode 3: Philip and Zack speak with Prof. Steve Adolph

Episode 4: Anisa and Zora speak Prof. Eleanor Caves

Episode 5: Chase and Lucas speak with Dr. Allison Schultz

Episode 6: Jacob and Elena speak with Prof. Lars Schmitz

Filed under: News, Vertebrate Biology Podcast

Hi! I’m Hanna’23 and I am a senior Biology major from Orange County, California. This summer I have been working on the burrowing owl project, in which we are monitoring the status of burrowing owls at a site in Southern California.

Here I am checking on a motion sensing camera

Although we are monitoring for the presence of burrowing owls, we are also curious about what other animals are there. In the process of looking through THOUSANDS of camera trap photos (which are taken by motion sensing cameras), I have found lots of other animals. For every burrowing owl photo we have, we have a hundred photos of California ground squirrels, lizards sunbathing on top of the burrows, Northern mockingbirds stopping by to chill, and the occasional roadrunner coming by to show off its reflective feathers and its striking orange stripe on the side of its head. Here are some of our “greatest hits” from this summer:

A curious coyote and a butterfly


A road runner runs by!


A burrowing owl!

Filed under: Burrowing Owl, News

Philip mapping a woodrat nest at the Bernard Field Station.

My name is Philip  (PO ’24) and I’m majoring in Biology. This summer I’ve learned so much from getting to work in the field! Of particular interest to me is our woodrat project, in which we’re mapping the current distribution of woodrat nests (“huts”) in the Bernard Field Station. We’re using ArcGIS mapping software to assess change in hut distribution and condition, among other data, over time. It’s been quite some time since the woodrat huts have been surveyed, so I’m very interested to see how much the huts have changed over the years.

Finding our way to huts mapped in 2005 (Zora left, Philip right)


Filed under: Bernard Field Station, BFS, News, woodrat

Hello! My name is Zora’26.  I am so excited to be leading the project focused on conservation of the Western Pond Turtles.

So far we have captured two Western Pond Turtles. This was an exciting find, especially since one was a female and the other was a male.  We captured the turtle who was original rescued from the Victoria Gardens Mall, who we named Victoria, and another turtle trapped in 2010! Later in the week we caught three invasive species: a red-eared slider, a large mouthed bass and a bullfrog. This study will help us in determining the survival of the Western Pond turtles. I cannot wait to tell you more about our turtle adventures!

Heading out to check for turtles.

Filed under: News

Island Update from Jacob’23

Posted by: nina-karnovsky | June 26, 2022 | No Comment |

Things on Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge are going super well! We are typically in blinds conducting feeding studies on the common and arctic terns by 0830. For three hours, we monitor what food chicks are being fed by their parents. This includes the prey type (fish or invertebrate species), prey size (relative to the parent’s bill length), who ate the food item, which parent brought the item, and when the parent came to & left the nest. So, a line of our data might be read like this: “At 11:22, the banded adult brought a 2.25 bill-length hake and fed it to the first-born chick. The banded adult left the nest at 12:04.” This is a lot of information to gather in only a few seconds when the birds come in and the chicks are hungry. However, I am figuring it out and getting better at it each day! In the afternoons we take measurements of tern chick weight and wing growth (wing cord). This can take up to three hours. The work is exhausting but I utterly love it here!

banded tern chick

Jacob’s summer home


Filed under: News, Puffin Project, Senior Thesis

Congratulations to Thesis Students!

Posted by: nina-karnovsky | April 30, 2022 | No Comment |

Alejandro, Andreah, Lexy, Kat and Coco

This past Friday was the culmination of the amazing senior thesis work of several students in the lab.

Alejandro presenting his grant proposal thesis on the impact of plastic on platypus (Dec. 2021).


Kat presenting her research on use of culverts by mammals.


Lexy explains how two species utilize the same resource.


Andreah created a guide to marine mammals for citizen scientists.


Eric, an art major and member of the lab, presented his deeply moving multimedia senior thesis.


Coco (an honorary member of the lab) found that photo recognition software can be used to ID individual snakes.

Filed under: Burrowing Owl, Congrats to Students, News, Senior Thesis

Andreah’22: Art, Biology and Citizen science!

Posted by: nina-karnovsky | March 21, 2022 | No Comment |

Andreah restoring habitat on Anacapa Island.

Andreah is a talented biologist and artist! Read a recent article about her senior thesis. If you have 10 – 20 minutes, take the survey she is conducting. SURVEY LINK
One of Andreah’s extraordinary drawings.

Filed under: Channel Islands, News, Senior Thesis

Life in the Lab!

Posted by: nina-karnovsky | March 13, 2022 | No Comment |

A couple weeks ago the lab felt like it did pre-pandemic with multiple projects underway. Introducing some of the wonderful 2022 students:

Mars (left) Zora (middle) and Lexy (right) examining hundreds of photos from camera traps.


Inspecting an albatross bolus. (From left to right: Eric, Lexy and Zora)


Jacob (left), Lexy (middle) and Eric (right).

Filed under: News


Posted by: nina-karnovsky | February 24, 2022 | No Comment |

Senior thesis student, Eric Blair, has started his thesis assessing the quantity and type of plastic that albatross breeding in Hawaii have ingested. This project is part of a collaboration with Pacific Rim Conservation.

Eric sorting plastic and natural diet items from albatross boluses.


A small sample of the plastic Eric has found.


Squid beaks from squid that the albatross ate.

Filed under: Hawaii, News, Senior Thesis

Congrats to this amazing flock who managed to maintain their passion for biology during more than a year of Zoom meetings.




Ethan and Cody







Filed under: BFS, Burrowing Owl, Congrats to Students

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