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Python in the lab!

Posted by: nicole | July 14, 2014 | 7 Comments |

Hi all!  I’m Nicole, a rising Pomona fourth year, and this summer I’m working with data on the diving patterns of Cassin’s auklets in the family Alcidae.  These sea faring birds budget their energy and time depending on prey availability, and the feeding needs of themselves and their chicks.  Auklets also demonstrate different types of dives: more ‘V’ shaped dives tend to be for finding pockets of prey underwater, while more ‘U’ shaped dives are more for actual feeding.  These data were taken by gluing small Time-Depth Recorders (TDR’s) on the body feathers of individual auklets and recording temperature and pressure on preset intervals as the birds go about their daily routines.

Here's me in the lab!

Here’s me in the lab!

Other projects have looked at different aspects of these data and my job is to process the most recent years.  Three weeks into my ten week project, I’ve so far been writing python programs that will take a file of data from an individual bird and separate the data points into dive bouts made up of dives as well as calculating different attributes.  One of these attributes is how U-shaped a dive is, which I calculated by determining what percentage of the data points are in the lowest 25% of the dive depth. Over the next few weeks I’ll be developing an interface for these programs and can then decide what aspect of these birds’ behavior I’m most interested in analyzing for my thesis!

My fellow students keep me company while we code for different projects.

My fellow students keep me company while we code for different projects.


Filed under: Farallon Island, News, Senior Thesis

Responses -

Keep up the good work Nicole! I’m so glad you’ve taken on the noble and majestical TDR data. If you ever need some help or a supportive ear you can always give me a call! FYI if you ever go and put your face in freshly regurgitated shrimp, that’s what a cassins auklet smells like when you catch one 🙂

Sounds great! It will be so awesome to see the differences among foraging bouts and individuals so easily. The program sounds prett-ay neat.

Thanks Kristina and Derek! Hopefully I’ll be able to see (and smell) the birds up close next spring!

Hi Nicole,
Russ Bradley here, Farallon program manager for Point Blue, just saying hello and thanks for your work on this great TDR data. Biologists on the island have already done a deployment this season and will do another this week to coincide with one of our oceanography cruises. Thanks again

That sounds awesome Russ!

you go Nicole! I raked through a lot of those data with a fine-toothed comb too, so I know what it’s like! It seems like a lot of nit-picky hard work, but it’s so rewarding to see how many awesome insights into the natural behavior of these birds you can draw from just a bunch of squiggly lines on a computer. Can’t wait to hear more about what you’ve found for these more recent years!

Thanks Eleanor! I’m excited for the final product!

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