Author: Susan Foster

I am lucky enough to have spent the past week in Alaska (and lucky enough to be spending one more week here!). I have explored the stunning lakes, mountains, wildlife, glaciers, and much more with a great crew from the …

Stickle-ventures in Alaska Read More »

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There are so many wonderful things about Alaska– the hundreds of majestic lakes, the breathtaking mountains, the thousands of brilliantly colored stickleback, but most important is the awe-inspiring moose. I have lived in Maine all my life and even so …

Waiting for Moose Read More »

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I spent three weeks in AK driving to lakes, emptying traps full of stickleback, fertilizing innumerable clutches of eggs by dissecting those stickleback, and then sending mass shipments of embryos back to our lab at Clark University (among other things). …

Life After Alaska Read More »

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  A belated post this might be, but I felt it necessary to share with our readers the last days of the 2010 expedition to the north. After a week in Alaska, the strangest thing about British Columbia was that …

The Final Days in British Columbia Read More »

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The Canadian border, that is. Team Animal Behavior departed for British Columbia on Tuesday night. The flights landed in Seattle at 5:30 AM, but there was no rest even then. The car had to be picked up (a monstrous Jeep, …

Being a Journey Across the Border Read More »

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After our fifth day in Alaska we are still not used to the lack of darkness! Our typical Alaskan day starts at eight in the morning, the sun just rising from its laze on the horizon; it never fully sets! …

Going Rogue. Sort of. Read More »

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Yesterday was an early start for the animal behavior group. We had a two and a half hour drive to Seward and Resurrection Bay planned to catch some fish! Along the way, we stopped many times to take pictures of …

Being an Expedition to Seward Read More »

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Dianne and I arrived up in Alaska a few days ago, after two weeks with Justin and Shannon in British Colombia. It was absolutely beautiful there, despite rather dismal weather (Sunshine Coast? I think not.) It did put a damper …

The “Sunshine” Coast Read More »

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A successful day for Team Animal Behavior! This was especially exciting after a washout yesterday. Our primary objective was to dive in Willow Lake to gather courting and parental males and observe color patterns on them. But with the wind …

Being a Tale of Success Read More »

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As a certain mustache-ioed lab member recently put it: “The problem with Alaska is there are too many Alaskans!” Miguel & I have been trapping for stickleback in the Mat-Su Valley for a week now and what strikes us is the …

On Stickleback & Socializing Read More »

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Daniella Swenton has just accepted a position as Visiting Assistant Professor at Clark University. She will step in for Justin Thackeray who will be on sabbatical leave, and will thus teach a portion of Biology 102, Genetics (Biology 118) and …

Daniella Swenton has just accepted a position! Read More »

Sophie Valena (09) has just been accepted as a Ph.D. student in the Evolution, Ecology and Behavior Program in the Department of Biology, Indiana University, begining in the Fall Semester of 2010. This is an excellent program and was her …

Sophie Valena accepted as a Ph.D. student Read More »

Daniella Swenton has just joined the Foster/Baker Laboratory in a post-doctoral position. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Vermont and conducted her Ph.D. research at the University of New Mexico on the ecological and behavioral maintenance of …

Daniella Swenton has just joined the Foster/Baker Laboratory Read More »

Rachel Chock, Masters graduate ’08 has accepted a competitive NSF-funded research position in Chile that will begin in June 2010. She will be conducting research with Dr. Loren Hayes from University of Louisiana, Monroe and Dr. Luis Ebensperger from Universidad de Catolica in Santiago, Chile. …

Rachel Chock accepted research position Read More »

One of the most fascinating aspects of threespine stickleback biology I have learned about while here in Alaska is the parasitism of our wild-caught fish by Schistocephalus solidus. As I mentioned before, Dr. David Heins of Tulane University studies this …

Zombie Fish! Read More »

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Much like Jeff last year, I got to go with Matt on his annual float plane trip with Scott Christy, a local pilot and very good friend to stickleback researchers in Alaska. You know how I mentioned before that seeing …

I’m Leaving On A… Float Plane? Read More »

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Time flies… I’ve been up here in the Great North for six weeks now, but it feels more like the blink of eye. On June 17th, Matt Wund, our lab’s postdoctoral research fellow flew up to our neck of the woods …

String of Bad Luck – But We Push On! Read More »

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On Wednesday, June 10th, Kat Shaw (you can read her field blog here)and Jeff Huenemoerder arrived for their summer field season in Alaska. Both study behavior of male threespine stickleback, so they are well-suited for collaborating in the field. Noffer (our Forester) took a turn …

Did You Ever See A Stickleback Asking For His Money Back…? Read More »

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  Most of the wildlife that we are exposed to while we work in the field up here in south central Alaska is seen in fleeting glimpses. Long enough to scramble for a camera, take a few shaky shots, and …

Planet Earth Read More »

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  This morning dawned a bit cooler due to the rain, but we made ourselves french toast on the camp stove and packed our tents without complaint. We planned to move down to Anchor River today, but only for one …

In Which We Try Many Things and Only Sometimes Succeed Read More »

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  Today has given us a new appreciation for how beautiful the weather has been up until now. When we woke up in our tents this morning we found that it had rained. No problem, we thought. The skies looked …

Rain and Roses Read More »

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…down to the Kenai Peninsula. Some of you may remember my rather epic introduction to the world of threespine stickleback field collecting from last year when Lauren, Jana Loux-Turner, Sophie Valena, and I got to Alaska in mid-May and immediately …

And Away We Go… Read More »

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Lauren and I just got back from a three day camping trip. We spent Sunday night in the Nancy Lakes area (camping next to South Rolly Lake), and then Monday night up north in Talkeetna. this involved a lot of …

The Dirty Kind of Clean Read More »

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Hello faithful readers of the Stickleblog! To keep everyone up to date – Lauren and I are heading out to South Rolly today for our first camping trip of the season. We will be back in a few days, so …

Brief Note. Read More »

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Well, we’ve had a spell of dreary weather out here–which makes the job no more difficult, just slightly less gleeful and photogenic. It started on Tuesday. Down in Point MacKenzie the sky was cloudless and bright and all a frolicking …

I’m Only Happy When It Rains…. (Not) Read More »

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Things have just been going splendidly for us in the field so far. Case in point: I wore a tank top the entire day today. Why is this note-worthy? Two reasons. First, it was warm enough in MAY in Alaska …

Sweet Lorraine Read More »

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  We are impressed. Everything we catch is less than 6 inches long! Today I discovered the importance of leaning away from jars of formalin. As we were picking out gravid females at Rabbit Slough, a drop of the stuff …

In Which Rachel Really Appreciates Optometry Read More »

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Despite my jet lag (Lauren is lucky; she lives in Washington state so the plane ride was only a three hour hop north and a one hour time change for her), we managed to get a normal day’s work in …

“Hanging tough, staying hungry…” Read More »

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  I can’t express the glee I felt in not having to make a full day’s pilgrimage from the east coast to south central Alaska for this year’s round of collecting. In addition, the half-full plane ride which allowed me …

It’s the Little Things, Really Read More »

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It was raining in Houston. The smell of wet pavement and warm humidity clogged the walkway to my seven hour Continental flight to Anchorage. Excited Texans bound for cruises and students bound for summer adventures in the wilderness pressed in …

North to Alaska: Take Two! Read More »

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Back in Massachusetts at Clark University… The trials continue – both literally and figuratively! John and Susan realized the other day that if anything were to happen to Dianne (Dianne Suggs, one of our PhD students) and she was unable …

Animal Behavior Gives Us Grief Read More »

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Lauren and I left late Tuesday afternoon (Moody Blues, anyone?) for a five day camping trip needed to trap in the Willow and Talkeetna areas of the Mat-Su. Most of the rest of the day passed in a blur of …

Just Call Us “Team Discovery” Read More »

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This weekend I went camping on the Kenai peninsula for four days with Lauren and Matt. We made collections and (the reason Matt and I went with Lauren) we made crosses in the field of a few populations down in …

The View From Here Read More »

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Lauren, Anna and I spent 4 days camping on the Kenai Peninsula. Four bears, a golden eagle, 29 crosses (performed on a picnic table in high winds and 46-degree temperatures), a dozen or so trapping sites, hundreds of beautiful mountains, …

Camping by the Numbers Read More »

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Matt is off with the water quality girls today to Talkeetna. It’s a long drive and Jana and Sophie need to complete the water quality on at least three lakes while they’re up there. Matt is going because he needs …

The. Best. Day. Ever. Read More »

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Jana, Sophie and I went up about 3 hours north of Anchorage to take water quality samples from several lakes, as well as to trap fish at Trouble Lake. Trouble is a bit of trouble to get to, but reaching …

North of Anchorage Read More »

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Things all get switched around from time to time. It’s nice for me, not being hooked into any one specific project because apparently I will get to experience them all! The water quality team has been having some trouble with …

View from a Canoe Read More »

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So the fearsome foursome is back together for a day or two using Pewter to tote traps and one big red canoe about the Mat-Su. The specific things we did this day hardly matter. At this point, we are used …

I Went to Alaska and I Came Back Weird Read More »

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It’s Matt’s birthday! The “death” of June. It never gets old. Matt’s friend, Scott Christy, took him and Jeff up in a float plane today. Meanwhile, Lauren and Anna gave me a day off to write — so while they …

Pup Lake and Yard Dogs Read More »

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Scott Christy, a local pilot (and retired geologist, among other things) is a great friend to our lab, and is kind enough each summer to take us in search of stickleback in hard-to-reach places in his float plane. Today he …

Friends In High Places Read More »

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What a day. Some of the days on the Kenai were long, but this day may have taken that cake for Lauren and me. I suppose it’s partially our fault for starting later than normal due to running errands, etc. …

One Long Day Read More »

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Really need to remember to put bug spray in the van! Lauren and I went to pick up our traps at Zero Lake today and nearly got eaten alive. We also got led down the trail by a spruce grouse …

Lassie, the Spruce Chicken Read More »

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Late last night, the other half of our lab group flew in. They are all here to mainly work in UAA’s lab, using fish caught in the area. Matt Wund is the lab’s postdoctoral research fellow. His work is based …

Speaking “A-lab-skan” Read More »

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Fifth-year master’s student Rachel Chock successfully defended her thesis titled “Re-emergence of ancestral plasticity and the loss of a rare limnetic phenotype in an Alaskan population of threespine stickleback,” and walked in commencement ceremonies May 18. Rachel studied the effects of human-induced …

News from the Laboratory Read More »

PhD student Justin Golub has won two prestigious awards to support his work with Susan Foster and John Baker. One award was $1,500 from the American Museum of Natural History Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Grant. The AMNH Roosevelt grant is designed to aid graduate research …

News from the Laboratory Read More »

Prof. Susan Foster has been appointed to the newly established Warren Litsky Endowed Chair in Biology. This chair is established through a bequest gift from the estate of Warren Litsky, who graduated from Clark University in 1945. Susan joined the Clark University …

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Here are some Alaskan pics I’ve taken so far. The top photo shows Anna and Jeff at Rabbit Slough. We saw the moose, 2nd photo below, at Whale Lake. He regarded us for a few minutes, and then plopped down …

On Rabbits and Moose (Okay, Just One of Each..) Read More »

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The weather treated us surprisingly well when we were down on the Kenai. It was cold in the mornings and at night, but for the most part we had sunshine. Today it rained. All day. Not hard or anything, but …

Blame It On the Rain Read More »

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So, yesterday we made some rune stones to help us make decisions. For example, the decision of who showered first when we got to our unit. I won that one. After pulling all our traps from the day previous, we …

Homeward Bound Read More »

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This is our last night of camping. The UAA residence halls open tomorrow, so we’ll be traveling back to Anchorage and moving into our main unit tomorrow night. Met some people today at Encelewski Lake who know Rich King! It …

The Shish-Kablog Read More »

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As the title clearly states, another day of driving. Nothing terribly exciting until the end of the day when we left our Hidden Lake campsite and moved down to Ninilchik in order to trap farther south. – Rachel

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Speaking of Skilak Road … We had quite the eventful night. After throwing all of our traps and picking up the water quality duo from their last lake, the four of us spent some time in the Soldotna McDonald’s charging …

The Midnight Mud Attack of 2008! Read More »

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Water quality girls still figuring things out. Today, I learned how to count and preserve fish in the field. It’s so crazy and amazing to actually see this fish in the wild after studying them for years in a classroom. …

Hazy Shade of Winter Read More »

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First day! Lauren taught me how to set traps in about two minutes while standing on the muskeg at Watson Lake. Muskeg is great stuff; generally, one can refer to it as bogland or marsh. It consists of sphagnum moss …

On Trapping Lakes and Flagging Tapes Read More »

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I suspect that in the next couple of days, I am going to really appreciate that the grant money provided the four of us in these first two weeks was used to put us up in hotel for my first …

To the Kenai with a Keen Eye Read More »

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Scene: Dulles International Airport in the early afternoon of a rainy, spring day. The terminal is crowded with people chattering on their cell phones, eating sandwiches and drinking coffee. One girl sits, notebook in lap, smoothie in hand, writing and …

North to Alaska! Read More »

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Coming soon: The tale of what it is like to camp for seven days on the Kenai Peninsula in late May, trapping fish and taking water quality samples daily. A harrowing experience of traveling in a van packed with equipment …

Coming Attractions (or … 4 Girls and a Van) Read More »

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On May 13, the day of the group photo and celebration of Rachel Chock’s successful defense, a dry run (literally) of the plankton sampling routine for Alaskan lakes was played out in the Maywood parking lot next to the Lasry …

Plankton Sampling in a Parking Lot… Read More »

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The NESCent working group, spearheaded by Dr. David Lahti at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and co-organized by Susan, has been encouraged to submit a review manuscript to Nature on the topic of Relaxed Selection and Trait Loss: Patterns and Processes. As David indicated in transmitting this …

News from the Laboratory Read More »

Susan traveled to North Carolina State University to present a seminar entitled: Evolution of a model system: The adaptive radiation of threespine stickleback that was hosted by the W.M. Keck Center for Behavioral Biology.  She had the opportunity to meet the very diverse …

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Susan attends a working group meeting at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). The working group, entitled “Relaxed Selection and Trait Loss”, was organized by David Lahti, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Susan.  

A large laboratory contingent attended the Animal Behavior meeting in Burlington, Vermont. Susan, Justin and Matt presented papers. Rachel presented a poster with support from a Charles Henry Turner Award from the Animal Behavior Society. Katherine Shaw (visiting student scholar …

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Part of the British Columbia field contingent (Susan, Justin, Karyn and Natasha and Rachel) travel to Alaska, Mickey returns to Santa Barbara, and Dianne, Brendan head back to Massachusetts. Anna and Jana join them. All return from Alaska later in …

News from the Laboratory Read More »

The Great Departure month. Susan, Brendan, Dianne, Karyn and Rachel fly to British Columbia where they are joined by Natasha Kelly, a graduate student at Yale University, and Mickey Rowe, a collaborator on vision/color research from the University of California …

News from the Laboratory Read More »