Sadly, it was not my research that was featured by National Geographic. As Dave recently found out, one of the benefits – or possibly curses depending on your perspective – of studying charismatic megafauna (particularly a species that is threatened by climate change) is that people actually pay attention to your research. A couple of weeks ago, while I was all excited about my lab’s work being published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environmental, Dave had to “one-up” me.
Dave’s Nightmare (from PhD Comics)
Given that recreation ecology is an emerging field of study, the journals that we publish in – while good and important journals – do not usually have the highest impact factor or are the most widely read. However, that may be changing! My advisor, Chris Monz and two Australian colleagues, authored the cover article of this month’s issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. The October 2013 issue also features a Guest Editorial by another well-known recreation ecologist out of Australia – Ralf Buckley. Frontiers is a journal published by the Ecological Society of America and hopefully the October issue, which puts recreation ecology in the spotlight, will be just the first step in introducing recreation ecology research to a broader scientific audience.
On August 25th, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Organic Act which created a new agency within the Department of the Interior called the National Park Service. At this point, the Department of the Interior was struggling to manage 14 national parks and 21 national monuments. The task was becoming too daunting and thus a the new agency was created with the sole responsibility:
“to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”
In honor of the National Park Service’s birthday, I decided to write a short post about the first director of the National Park Service: Stephen T. Mather.
Portrait of Stephen T. Mather from 1916
When I was little, as in from the age when I began forming memories until I was in school full-time, I distinctly recall filling the majority of my time with three activities; playing outside, building things with Lego blocks, and watching TV. My two favorite TV shows were Sesame Street and Zoobilee Zoo (this show seems slightly creepy to me now…). Sesame Street influenced me so much growing up that for a period of my life (maybe 4th through 6th grade), I was seriously reconsidering my plans to become a marine biologist and decided that I wanted to work in Jim Henson’s creature shop making muppets instead. Obviously neither of those things happened but my childhood love and my current career path met one another this week when the National Park Service, Sesame Street, and the National Park Foundation teamed up!
My semester ended the first week of May. For many students, the end of a semester signals the beginning of summer and a time of relaxation. For myself and Dave the end of the semester signals one of the busiest times of the year for both of us – the field season. Dave’s field work is a bit more intense than mine. As mentioned in previous posts, he spends his field seasons in a remote arctic field camp on the Hudson Bay studying various aspects of the ecosystem. Every year Dave leaves at the end of May and returns to Utah towards the end of August. Weekly, brief satellite phone calls are our only means of communication. Meanwhile, while Dave is trying to keep from getting eaten by a polar bear and/or swarms of mosquito, I spend chunks of my summer doing field work in whatever national park or protected area I have a project. This year, starting around July 1, I will be alternating my time between home in Logan and Grand Teton National Park. I will be trying to not get eaten by a grizzly bear, gored by a moose, or driven insane by summer park visitors.
The lull between the end of the semester and the start of field work is usually taken up by days and days of field work preparations including ordering equipment, organizing gear, and testing equipment. Most of the time this work is boring and a bit of a hassle but this year Dave made testing some of his field equipment a bit more fun. Dave will be taking more than few high quality game cameras into the field this summer to examine predator/prey interactions. Having never used these cameras before, Dave brought a few home and decided a good way to familiarize himself with their use was to try them out on our cats!
Capturing Fern’s inner demon at the food bowls.
A couple of years ago, when looking through proceedings from past Monitoring and Management of Visitor Flows in Recreational and Protected Areas (MMV) conferences, I came across an article about recreation ecology in Canada. The title of the proceedings paper was slightly perplexing so I tucked the article away in a folder on my desktop to read at a later date. Today, I decided I was due for another installment of “Recreation Ecology Around the World” and pulled out the short proceedings paper from 2008; The future of recreation ecology in Canada: go big or go home? Since the paper is a few years old, I did a quick search to see if I could find any updates or new information but my search came up empty. So here is a short summary of the state of recreation ecology in Canada as described by Campbell and Walker from proceedings of the 4th MMV Conference (2008).
Macey hanging out on our Canada blanket.