Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Why Research Moose?

Why bother with Alces alces? It's not an especially easy to work with species - there's no more than 140,000 research subjects in the whole state, and they don't deal with captivity very well. Additionally, they're large, have long life cycles, and can monkey stomp you into the ground (terror is stumbling on a cow and her calf). Right now any self respecting biologist is going `Woah! Count me out!,` and I haven't even mention the sheer cost of the enterprise, which needless to say is not cheap at all.

So why bother?

Dig through your freezer a bit. Now, chances are, if you're in the interior, you have some salmon in there, maybe some caribou, berries if you flash froze any (I've got a pound and change of low bush cranberries I need to do something with. Ideas welcome!), and probably some moose from last year. Moose is a) an important subsistence species b) an important game species c) a species important to tourism, especially pertaining to point b, d) an integral part of early secessional environment. Areas are managed to encourage moose populations, sometimes to the detriment of other species. Moose aren't just big, they're a big deal.

The PI of the lab - that's science lingo for principal investigator, or `the boss man` - is interested in genetic mannagement of game (and some non-game), along with moose ancient-history (demography), and population ecology - a buzz phrase for how populations change over time, with respect to their enviroment. Therefore, I'm intersted too. That's how it works, if you want to pull your own around the lab. ; ) Honestly, though, I've interest in moose behaviour and how it pertains to population ecology, so we've considerable overlap in research interest. We're not a one trick poney over here (one trick moose?), and as I hinted at earlier, we deal with a variety of species. But first and foremost, I say elitnaurtuq tuntuvagnek when we tell what we study. Actually, mostly, it's `I study moose.` ; )


Arvay said...

Do you get to work with the reindeer and the caribou and the musk oxen?

KC said...

Most of the time, nope. The PI is a Director at LARS, but we leave the day-to-day work with those animals to their full time handlers. Often we'll get deceased CB or RD, or bits that have been dissected out.

Non-contained animals, I missed out on the trip to go chase Caribou on the North Slope. I was very bummed out.

Arvay said...

I wish I could cuddle one of the baby reindeer that used to live near the botanical garden. They were so cute, and the whole herd there was so friendly and social. Well, I guess I have a year now till the next set comes along, to prepare a story for the biology department of why I MUST help them care for their baby reindeer. :)