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Biomusings: Videos Inspired by the Amazing Lives of Field Biologists

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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I’ve always been somewhat enamoured with the lives of field biologists.  During my PhD I spent long hours camping out in the temperate forests of British Columbia and New Zealand, surveying animals and carrying out experiments.  Despite the sometimes stressful conditions (freak storms, bears, cougars and about a zillion mosquitoes and black flies) I was always accutely aware that it was a pretty fantastic way to spend my days.  I’ve always thought that the experiences of field biologists could be wonderfully represented in film and video, so I decided to create a series showcasing them.

I bought a few HD flip video cameras and started sending out inquiries to see if people would be amenable to taking a camera with them into the field and recording their adventures.  I was thrilled with the warm reception I received from biologists who were very interested in working with me.  My cameras have been all over the world, from Australia to Ethiopia, Finland and all over the USA.  I’ve collected amazing footage of diverse organisms and research procedures, and met a lot of wonderful people in the process.  Now, as anyone involved in video production knows, it’s not just about the footage.  For each location and researcher I wanted to craft a unique biology-based story that showcased their work in an interesting way.  I write and tell the story, and I showcase the wonderful work of the biologists out there doing it.  A wonderful partnership!  It’s also a great way for me, currently at home with 4 small children, to live vicariously through the lives of other biologists.

The last part of the Biomusings story is the involvement of my good friend Matthew Hawkins.  Matt and I have worked together for several years now, we won the ‘Discovery World HD Film Snacks Competition’ in 2010 for our short natural history film ‘Why Did the Toad Cross the Road?’.  Matt does all of the shooting for my parts of the Biomusings videos, and he is the guru of their post-production.  You can check out more of Matt’s diverse work HERE.

Here’s a selection of some of my favorites:

Where the Whales Are: Here we examine the work of Hillary Moors, a PhD student in the Whitehead Lab at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Hillary has spent a lot of time examining the possibilities for acoustically monitoring the antics of endangered Scotian Shelf Bottlenosed Whales, and has some pretty telling results about where the whales like to spend most of their time when deep beneath the surface.

 

Celebration of the Female Form: This installment is based on the research of PhD candidate Eben Gering from the University of Texas at Austin. Eben spends his summers in beautiful Hawaii, where he researches the ecology of color variation in female damselflies.

Finding that Special Someone: As if finding a mate in the animal kingdom wasn’t tricky enough! Drs. Ulrika Candolin and Jan Heschele at the University of Helsinki are examining the effects of eutrophication on the sexual selection of stickleback fish in the Baltic Sea – a phenomenon that is giving a reproductive advantage to all the wrong males.


Introduced Sportfish- Is this a Good Idea? : This episode focuses on the work of University of Alberta graduate student Jordan Messner.  Jordan is looking at the process of ecosystem recovery in hundreds of alpine lakes in the Canadian Rockies after decades of sport fish stocking.  Join us for a quick journey in to the beautiful world of blue/green lakes and ‘pristine’ habitats.  They look beautiful, but have they recovered from decades of irresponsible human practices?  You’ll have to watch to find out…

Carin Bondar About the Author: Carin Bondar is a biologist, writer and film-maker with a PhD in population ecology from the University of British Columbia. Find Dr. Bondar online at www.carinbondar.com, on twitter @drbondar or on her facebook page: Dr. Carin Bondar – Biologist With a Twist. Follow on Twitter @drbondar.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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