Student Journal: summer dispatches from the field Offshore California: last stand of the endangered marbled murrelet
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The Dispatches



Group photo
The crew (left to right): Chris Neufeld, Krista Cramer , Jay McEntee, and Lauren Baker

Convergence in the wild: a cello player, a Peace Corps volunteer, a musician with an ear for bird song, and a Cal senior

AÑO NUEVO, CALIFORNIA - Field biology attracts an interesting cast of characters. Perhaps it is the allure of working with an exotic species of wild animal or traveling to a wild, remote location that piques the interest of so many recent college graduates. Regardless, the young men and women that survey for Marbled Murrelets, catch Spotted Owls, and track radio-collared mountain lions are among the most interesting, colorful, and fun people you will meet. They come from all walks of life but are united by a common interest in the outdoors and a desire to make a difference. The thought of an office job would make most of them head for the high country.

I have supervised eight field crews of up ten people since I started working with wildlife. These characters include a young man with long blond hair wavering between a career as a biologist and career as a rock star, a former prom queen who is now one heck of a marksman and hunter, and a 16-year sergeant in the U. S. Army who trained the tank drivers of Desert Storm. Working long hours in remote areas, often under harsh field conditions, inevitably forges a strong bond among the field biologists, who often remain friends for life. Despite tough working conditions, crew members often spend their weekends backpacking and camping in nearby forests and mountains.

This year I have been fortunate enough to be working with one of the most fun, easy-going, yet hard working groups of people so far.


Ask the Author:

Zach Peery has agreed to answer your questions, time permitting. Email Zach.

Jay McEntee is a recent graduate from the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a fine guitar player and terrific birder that has finally taught me to recognize some of the more obvious bird calls in the area (that's an accomplishment indeed). He is leaving for Tanzania in August for an entire year to oversee a research project examining tropical forest fragmentation.

Krista Cramer is a graduate from Cal Poly with an extraordinary travel resume under her belt. She has worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Panama helping local farmers develop sustainable agricultural practices and teaching English. She recently returned from an extended stint in Jamaica where she worked for the Smithsonian Institute studying a small migratory bird called the American Redstart.

Chris Neufeld just graduated from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada where he studied Marine Biology and played cello in the University Symphony. Chris is an experienced fisheries biologist, now branching out into the bird world.

Lauren Baker is a senior at the University of California, Berkeley who is working on a senior thesis examining the nesting habitat preferences of Marbled Murrelets in the Santa Cruz Mountains. More on her later…

Together, this year's crew has made this field season a delight. We have done a great job gathering data critical for the management of the Marbled Murrelet, and have had a great time in the process …

— Zach Peery


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