The adventures of science — an introduction

Primary Source: Human+Nature, 5/31/2019.

In wildlife biology research comes bundled with high amounts of unpredictability courtesy of the field, including roaring mountain lions, forest fires, and even bear attacks! This does not however, hinder the desire to continue enjoying the opportunity to explore and discover what nature has given us.

I kicked off the fieldwork of my master’s research “Fine scale habitat use by flying squirrels and dusky-footed woodrats” in northern California. Woodrats and flying squirrels are important prey for California spotted owls, a threatened species. We are interested in fine scale habitat features like individual tree species and dead trees. Understanding the importance of habitat features will allow us to incorporate them into land and resource management decisions.

The goal of the project is to describe habitat use of Humboldt’s flying squirrels and dusky-footed wood rats in  the Sierra Nevada. The objectives for this project: describe fine-scale forest vegetation structure Woodrat in a treeand composition at sites where flying squirrels and dusky-footed woodrats are found and determine how these forest structures vary across an elevation gradient. This sounds very systematic and scientific, but reality, not so much.

At the beginning (early summer 2018), I was not able to capture any of my target animals. I spent those months changing the bait multiple times. By crossing the veterinary literature, I learned that a veterinarian recommended vanilla extract to calm pet flying squirrels during laboratory examinations. I proceeded to use this as a part of my bait, I started capturing flying squirrels and dusky-woodrats.

Over the course of my summer and fall I survived to multiple encounter of wild animals and the fury of nature. I was chased by a black bear, I was stung by wasps’ multiple times and evacuated during the Camp Fire which burned part of my study area. I can truly say that I survive my first fieldwork. This experience taught me to value moments and never give up and to stand firm to be an example for other women and young people in the field of science.

The following two tabs change content below.
Tessaliz Quiles Delgado
I was born and raised on the most beautiful island of the Caribbean, Puerto Rico. Here, I was awarded a Bachelor of Science in Coastal Marine Biology at the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao. During my undergraduate studies, I participated in both marine and terrestrial research. With the help of my then mentor Dr. Neftalí Ríos, we worked on understanding the reproductive ecology and biological activity of the Puerto Rican native tree frog: The Coqui. I was also able to participate in a molecular biology research project in Dr. García Arrarás lab at the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras campus. We worked on elucidating the molecular mechanisms mediating sea cucumber gut regeneration. More recently, I was able to collaborate with Caribbean Fishery Management Council of Puerto Rico, in the project Consumer’s Responsible Fish and seafood Consumption is vital for coral reef health. This project helped the Caribbean Fishery Management Council outreach to promote to the consumers responsible consumption and maintain healthy coral reefs in Puerto Rico. Currently, I am a second-year master’s student working with Mark Rey and Gary Roloff in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University. My thesis describes the habitat uses of flying squirrels and woodrats that are primary prey of the California spotted owl, a protected species in California. Aside from studies, I also enjoy exploring the outdoors, dancing, and practicing my photography skills and making new friends.
Tessaliz Quiles Delgado

Latest posts by Tessaliz Quiles Delgado (see all)