How grizzly bears use habitat around trails

At the end of the day, I love it. All of it, even the hard bits. I’ve been waiting a long time to write this blog post… over 3 years in fact. The entire premise of my PhD has been to answer this central question – how do grizzly bears use habitat around hiking trails of various levels of human use in the Rocky Mountain National Parks? I can now share the answers I’ve found. Attempts to answer the question To investigate this question, I used 4 years of GPS collar data from 27

Disappearing in to the stats black hole

Daily walks in the winter wonderland have helped keep me a little sane these past months I was surprised to see that I haven’t published a blog post in a couple of months now. I blame it on the statistical black hole of madness. These past couple of months have been the hardest in my PhD so far for many reasons. Although my results will be coming soon, this post is about a PhD and how hard it is and how it makes you grow as a person whether you like it or not. This is a post

Lessons in Regressions

How I feel about stats most of the time – run! run away!! Oh Stats…. how I love thee. I love thee like seals love the great white shark, like the moon loves the sun, or like the air loves the water. We are intricately connected to each other, and yet if you weren’t in my life I feel like I would be fine – nay, happier even. So thanks for that. My winter months are spent doing a lot of statistical analysis in between field seasons, which sounds like I am just doing the same th

Finishing a chapter

Today I emailed in the first complete chapter of my thesis to my supervisor. YES!!! I’m sure I’ll still edit it another 5 times before it’s the version that ends up in my actual dissertation, but for now it’s done. It’s got graphs and figures and loads of references, and hopefully what he thinks are some good ideas too. And now, I feel like a nap. Editing the chapter at my desk. Good tunes mandatory! Getting ready to write Going through and collecting the data is one phase of

The first big reveal of 2014

Well with a title like that, I better reveal something big. So the big news of 2014 so far: It’s stopped snowing (for now at least). The last few weeks have been busy busy to say the least. Volunteers and I have put cameras up on many different trails in Banff National Park and have even started to take the first ones down. Cameras are only up for 21 days at a time before they get relocated and with over 50 cameras as part of this program, things are moving quickly. What I fo

And so it begins…

The field season is here! The field season is here! Yippeee!!!!! And all the biologists rejoiced. And Mother Nature said: “HA! I hope you like snow!” Playing around in the snow for remote camera volunteer training… it’s not all fun and game out there, but it’s a lot of that! The First Camera Deployment Cameras have started to go up on some of the low elevation trails in Banff National Park. As a biologist who is really only in this for the field work, that makes me pretty exc

Gettin’ Amped for another field season

Spring has SPRUNG! It’s March 21, the first bears in the Bow Valley have started to wake up and explore the valley bottoms and I have started to prepare for another field season. Seeing the video of the first bear out and about got me pretty excited about the summer that lay ahead, and just like last year I won’t be able to do it without the help of volunteers. Some things will be different for this year and others will be the same, either way it’s going to be another great s

My Unique Contribution

The Confirmation Document A PhD involves doing your own research project, from the defining of objectives to data analysis and creating recommendations, which is basically why I’m here. The project is entirely mine, from beginning to end. That kind of project ownership is scary and empowering. But that same thing defines a Masters degree, or even an Honours thesis… what separates a PhD is that your research has to be unique and different. PhD research has to contribute someth

Have Boots, Will Hike

At C-Level Cirque – big smiles and a love of wilderness makes the world go ’round. This week, I started breaking in the new boots and went on my first hike of the season. A good friend and I hiked the C-Level Cirque, a short trail up a side of Cascade mountain. The first hike of the season always feels so good – the fresh air, the smell of the trees, the sounds of robins and squirrels scampering about, and my vigilant eye always looking for bear sign. But this past weekend, I

Talking like a scientist

In my old job, part of what I did was take science and translate it into language that got people motivated to demand change. This is a protest to protect the Castle in Southern Alberta. For the past five years, it’s been my job to take complicated scientific information and translate it in ways that the average person can understand. I’m very good at it and it’s a skill that I’ve always been proud of. Now, I’m faced with the need to take the ideas in my head and translate th

Studying Grizzlies in Australia…?

As I was preparing to leave Canada, most of my friends and family watched on with incredulity – So you’re going to study grizzly bears in Australia? Do they even have bears in Australia? The Australian “bear” I went to check out at the Rockhampton zoo. Cute as a li’l muffin, but not a real bear. The answer to this is, of course, no. There are no bears in Australia. Koalas, although frequently referred to as koala bears, are not real bears – they just look like teddy bears and