I am "The Excited Biologist!" AMA! (self.IAmA)

11627 ups - 6600 downs = 5027 votes

Hi guys, I have some time off today after teaching, so after getting a whole mess of requests that I do one of these, here we are!

I'm a field biologist, technically an ecosystem ecologist, who primarily works with wild bird populations!

I do other work in wetlands and urban ecosystems, and have spent a good amount of time in the jungles of Costa Rica, where I fought off some of the deadliest snakes in the world while working to restore the native tropical forests with the aid of the Costa Rican government.

Aside from the biology, I used to perform comedy shows and was a cook for years!

Ask me anything at all, and I'd be glad to respond!

I've messaged some proof to the mods, so hopefully this gets verified!

You can check out some of my biology-related posts on my Redditor-inspired blog here!

I've also got a whole mess of videos up here, relating to various biological and ecological topics!

I WILL TRY MY VERY BEST TO RESPOND TO LITERALLY EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THIS THREAD!

EDIT: Okay, that was nine hours straight of answering questions. I'm going to go to bed now, because it's 4 AM. I'll be back to answer the rest tomorrow! Thanks for all the great questions, everyone!

EDIT 2: IM BACK, possibly with a vengeance. Or, at the very least, some answers. Woke up this morning to several text messages from real life friends about my AMA. Things have escalated quickly while I was asleep! My friends are very supportive!

EDIT 3: Okay, gotta go do some work! I answered a few hundred more questions and now willingly accept death. I'll be back to hopefully answer the rest ~~tonight~~ briefly before a meeting!

EDIT 4: Back! Laid out a plan for a new research project, and now I'm back, ready to answer the remainder of the questions. You guys have been incredibly supportive through PMs and many, many dick jokes. I approve of that, and I've been absolutely humbled by the great community response here! It's good to know people are still very excited by science! If there are any more questions, of any kind, let 'em fly and I'll try to get to them!

EDIT 5: Wow! This AMA got coverage on Mashable.com! Thanks a whole bunch, guys, this is ridiculously flattering! I'm still answering questions even as they trickle down in volume, so feel free to keep chatting!

EDIT 6: This AMA will keep going until the thread locks, so if you think of something, just write it in!

5568 comments submitted at 22:05:27 on Apr 25, 2013 by Unidan

  • [-]
  • birdguy
  • 208 Points
  • 05:02:08, 26 April

Other ornithologist here:

How excited are you about some of the new conservation work looking to bring extinct species back to life?

http://www.ted.com/talks/stewartbrandthedawnofdeextinctionareyou_ready.html

How great would it be to get the Passenger Pigeon, Dodo, Carolina Parakeet, and many other back?!

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 560 Points
  • 05:03:42, 26 April

It'd be pretty neat, that's for sure. Whether we could reintroduce them without restoring their habitat is what concerns me!

You might find this of interest, I recently got to go behind the scenes at Cornell's Lab of Ornithology and put together this little album of some of their extinct birds:

http://imgur.com/a/FIJEf

  • [-]
  • SexyEyebrowMan
  • 215 Points
  • 13:35:16, 26 April

Will the newly un-extinctified passenger pigeon ride on carrier pigeons?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 146 Points
  • 13:59:24, 26 April

I have to admit, I chuckled at this.

  • [-]
  • swizardofoz
  • 130 Points
  • 08:06:24, 26 April

For some reason, the "DO NOT TOUCH" signs reminded me of this. That's so sad though! Especially the little parakeets!

  • [-]
  • smokingtape
  • 19 Points
  • 17:37:56, 26 April

NO TOUCHING

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 36 Points
  • 22:19:52, 26 April

They don't let you have bees in the Lab of Ornithology.

  • [-]
  • Nartila
  • 389 Points
  • 22:16:11, 25 April
  • What's your favorite bird and why?
  • Least favorite and why?
  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 1144 Points
  • 22:22:23, 25 April

Haha, I actually have a very specific favorite bird!

I'm very partial to the Golden Pheasant, as I got the opportunity to meet this one (apologies for the blurry photo, he was moving quite rapidly). This pheasant was courting the female in the pen with him, but she was totally not into it.

I felt so bad for the poor guy, strutting his stuff, looking fabulous and never succeeding. Imagine being locked in a room with the only other person you'll ever meet, and they refuse to talk to you! How tragic.

My least favorite bird? Hmm, probably the European starling. They were introduced to America by a guy who wanted the US to have all the birds of Shakespeare. He released them in Central Park and they have essentially run rampant on many of our native birds and taken up a lot of their habitat.

  • [-]
  • Nartila
  • 903 Points
  • 22:42:03, 25 April

Europeans coming into America and running rampant. Then they're taking up land and habitat from the natives. Where have I heard this before?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 989 Points
  • 22:43:07, 25 April

Stupid repeating history, always repeating itself.

What a jerk.

  • [-]
  • [deleted]
  • 295 Points
  • 05:44:49, 26 April

Also, as a Washingtonian, I fucking HATE the asshole that started Scotchbroom in North America. 3 fucking plants. That's all it was. And now its so bad we use fires to control the shit.

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 436 Points
  • 05:50:51, 26 April

Oh god.

A friend of mine is from Oregon and knows your feels.

  • [-]
  • [deleted]
  • 136 Points
  • 05:54:07, 26 April

It's all shitty mustard colour, with a horrible smell and it lines the highways!

By the way thanks for replying!

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 226 Points
  • 05:54:33, 26 April

You're quite welcome!

  • [-]
  • missyouwiggles
  • 45 Points
  • 05:48:32, 26 April

I work at a wildlife rehab where we take in lots of song birds and i have to say that out of all of them the european starlings make the MOST god awful noise.

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 116 Points
  • 05:54:03, 26 April

They're described as making a "digital" sound.

My friend has one as a pet that she raised from a nestling.

  • [-]
  • MsRenee
  • 23 Points
  • 10:34:33, 26 April

Don't forget that they'll mimic other birds calls and send you running across the landscape looking for something cool when it's just a damn starling.

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 55 Points
  • 13:53:12, 26 April

> other bird calls

and phone sounds, and you, and itself, and everything

  • [-]
  • BlackGuyOne
  • 846 Points
  • 23:03:55, 25 April

This guy is fucking awesome. But more importantly...what is another ridiculously awesome fact other than that unbelievable Sahara Desert to Amazon thing?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 1837 Points
  • 23:08:00, 25 April

Thank you very much, that's very kind!

A fun fact? Hmm. The slow loris is pretty amazing! It's a poisonous primate! It produces a toxin from its elbows which it then licks off and spreads all over its body.

Its "fighting stance" is essentially an arms-behind-the-head posture, like so!

  • [-]
  • CaryGrantLives
  • 485 Points
  • 02:40:26, 26 April

are there any other posionous true primates?

Thank you for your help in saving the exclamation point from internet extinction and also making me feel happy again tonight as you have countless other nights. It's been a rough one!

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 710 Points
  • 02:46:55, 26 April

Nope! All of them are lorises, I believe.

And you're quite welcome!

  • [-]
  • purpy_skurpies
  • 223 Points
  • 07:22:23, 26 April

is that pronounced "loris-is" or "loris-sees"?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 467 Points
  • 07:50:52, 26 April

The first one.

  • [-]
  • bloomcnd
  • 252 Points
  • 07:56:00, 26 April

you started this AMA 9 hours ago and you're still going??!! you're awesome dude!

btw, love your enthusiasm and wealth of knowledge - i really hope some of it rubs off on some of the younger folk here and decide to pursue something similar

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 1048 Points
  • 07:57:20, 26 April

I am bleeding from me fingas.

  • [-]
  • 1stCovert
  • 26 Points
  • 05:23:08, 16 June

"I've got blistas on me fingas!"

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 27 Points
  • 05:34:20, 16 June

Seriously.

  • [-]
  • Nioxa
  • 150 Points
  • 06:21:01, 26 April

What advice would you give to a high school student who is considering going into botany research?

  • [-]
  • [deleted]
  • 133 Points
  • 11:13:41, 26 April

Wait, so at what point in the evolutionary cycle did the Loris' DNA think: "Hey guys... guys... lis.. listen guys... Poison e... right... guys listen, Poison elbows!"

  • [-]
  • AdeptCoder
  • 235 Points
  • 12:21:30, 26 April

Anthropologist here!

Lorises are amazing!!! However, the "fighting stance" (I'd call it a fear-response) is a huge draw for pet owners who think they're adorably putting their arms in the air when you play with them.

Nope, you're just scaring the hell out of a primate that shouldn't be a pet. In fact, the illegal pet trade is considered one of the biggest threats to the Nycticebus genus.

For an example of this soul-crushing ignorance, this video has almost 4 million views.

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 155 Points
  • 22:16:15, 26 April

Yup! Fear-response is what I was looking for! Thanks for the term, my brain has been fried trying to get back to everyone, so thanks for the added details!

  • [-]
  • Michaelis_Menten
  • 103 Points
  • 06:42:39, 26 April

What is that ridiculously awesome fact?? I haven't heard it!

  • [-]
  • ManaSyn
  • 192 Points
  • 07:30:22, 26 April

This. Without the Sahara, the Amazon might not have been able to grow much of its forests, as a lot of its nutrients come from that desert and are carried across the Atlantic.

  • [-]
  • Duhmas
  • 39 Points
  • 13:42:37, 26 April

So you're saying the Amazon is taking performance enhancing drugs?

  • [-]
  • lilyth88
  • 444 Points
  • 05:33:00, 26 April

Obligatory penguin question.

If you had a penguin for a pet, what kind of penguin would you choose and what would you name it?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 1252 Points
  • 05:38:13, 26 April

If I had a penguin as a pet, I'd probably choose a Magellanic penguin. I love the little guys. Here's a photo I took of one!

I'd name him Slippy.

  • [-]
  • lilyth88
  • 661 Points
  • 05:41:10, 26 April

You make me happy.

  • [-]
  • Cainedbutable
  • 251 Points
  • 12:52:47, 26 April

Interesting titbit about the word penguin (well, to me anyway). Penguin is one of the few Welsh words in the English language. It is derived from Pen Gwyn which means White Head.

  • [-]
  • AtticusLynch
  • 165 Points
  • 14:08:49, 26 April

Still have you tagged...

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 189 Points
  • 19:35:11, 26 April

Damn straight.

  • [-]
  • senor_moustache
  • 260 Points
  • 05:25:33, 26 April

What fact still blows you away even though you've known about it forever?

  • [-]
  • prairiebean
  • 795 Points
  • 03:19:15, 26 April

Not a question, but every time you comment and start with, "Biologist here!" it makes me wish you had a pop up graphic to accompany you, somewhere between this and this.

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 716 Points
  • 03:20:23, 26 April

Haha, I do like the idea of Spongebob talking at length about biology, I have to admit.

  • [-]
  • CharSiuBao9A
  • 222 Points
  • 05:50:06, 26 April

You know, I came to know about reddir because of that weird guy with the horrid subs and he was very popular on the interwebs for a bit of time for being creepy.

I think you may be his complete antithesis. Thanks for hanging out here, you actually contribute to the community and your positivity is super charming.

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 355 Points
  • 05:51:10, 26 April

No problem, glad to be of service!

  • [-]
  • IAmAHat_AMAA
  • 17 Points
  • 09:00:22, 26 April

violentacrez?

  • [-]
  • neropow
  • 312 Points
  • 22:37:20, 25 April

What other passions in life do you have?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 710 Points
  • 22:38:36, 25 April

I used to do improv and sketch comedy for a number of years and I still occasionally perform! I did a show not too long ago in NYC with a few friends from the Upright Citizen's Brigade Theatre.

I also used to be a professional cook, so I enjoy cooking quite a bit, too!

  • [-]
  • neropow
  • 220 Points
  • 22:43:37, 25 April

Where did you grow up, if I may ask...?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 650 Points
  • 22:44:05, 25 April

Long Island, New York.

sorry.

  • [-]
  • osnapitsjoey
  • 209 Points
  • 04:41:48, 26 April

hi five for living close to me!

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 517 Points
  • 04:44:02, 26 April

five

  • [-]
  • explodyhead
  • 70 Points
  • 11:28:43, 26 April

[5]

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 113 Points
  • 22:26:45, 26 April

ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

i get it

  • [-]
  • aequitas3
  • 16 Points
  • 06:34:44, 26 April

Would you rather have some Hemp-in-stead?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 46 Points
  • 06:35:06, 26 April

Haha, I'm actually closer to Smithtown!

  • [-]
  • LorienDark
  • 208 Points
  • 04:12:03, 26 April

In my mind, you sound exactly like Professor Oak in Pokèmon Snap. Just FYI.

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 301 Points
  • 04:12:42, 26 April

I gladly accept that.

  • [-]
  • Cozmo23
  • 774 Points
  • 23:19:34, 25 April

So you study birds? Could you tell me how a 5 ounce bird carries a 1 pound coconut?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 1617 Points
  • 23:21:27, 25 April

Are you suggesting that coconuts migrate?

  • [-]
  • Cozmo23
  • 539 Points
  • 23:24:14, 25 April

You are the expert. What have your studies shown?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 1901 Points
  • 23:25:02, 25 April

Coconuts do migrate, but swallows are not involved. They actually migrate through buoyancy and water currents.

A better term would be "disperse," as we don't quite expect that the coconuts will return home anytime soon.

  • [-]
  • choixpeau
  • 451 Points
  • 00:56:34, 26 April

So that means that Patsy's coconuts fell off a coconut tree somewhere where coconuts grow, rolled into the ocean, and floated to England? Awesome!

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 589 Points
  • 00:58:22, 26 April

Yup!

  • [-]
  • DreamerGeek
  • 157 Points
  • 14:05:18, 26 April

You realize the next time any one of us see this Python reference used on the interwebs, we're going to drop knowledge bombs, and those readers are going to use it in turn, etc. This is a learning virus at ground zero, sure thing, and you started it.

How cool is that?

  • [-]
  • Cozmo23
  • 493 Points
  • 23:27:23, 25 April

Best TIL ever. Thank you.

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 522 Points
  • 23:28:04, 25 April

You're quite welcome!

  • [-]
  • Xen0nex
  • 92 Points
  • 09:13:54, 26 April

>as we don't quite expect that the coconuts will return home anytime soon.

Not with that attitude :(

I'm still holding out hope. I'll be waiting for you, Coco!

  • [-]
  • StoryGopher
  • 20 Points
  • 12:09:21, 26 April

Speaking of birds. How do such small light animals stand such cold temperatures. I mean I know they migrate to warmer weather but they stick around an awfully long time into the fall and come back quite early. I see them flying up there in the frigid grey and can't help but think they must get beakfreeze. Also is it true that all birds are ass holes? I watched some Attenborough shows about birds and they seem like ass holes.

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 38 Points
  • 13:55:28, 26 April

Lots of huddling! You'll see smaller birds huddling together for warmth. Plus, they are mainly feathers.

Lots of dead air gives great insulation.

  • [-]
  • pencil_pusher
  • 194 Points
  • 22:55:13, 25 April

I've recently become a fan / slight (slight!) stalker.

Now, I need to think of a biology unrelated question to ask...

If you had the opportunity to travel to a new life supporting planet (in cold storage, or however it'd work...), with all the materials you needed to set up a lab and work there, would you? Even if it involved not coming back to earth?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 407 Points
  • 22:58:20, 25 April

I'm okay with that, I am always welcoming to some new stalkers!

Hmm, I probably wouldn't, if it meant never coming back to Earth! As much as I'd love to be world famous for being the first person to live on Mars or something like that, that fame means nothing to me in comparison to being with friends and loved ones.

That said, there's probably some crazy fuck out there who would gladly do this.

  • [-]
  • pencil_pusher
  • 81 Points
  • 23:04:25, 25 April

I thought so! I mean, there is just so much about this plant that we don't know or understand. Like oceans.

It seems like we've developed an almost symbiotic relationship with cries, are there any other animals we've done this with? (Outside of domestic pets)

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 241 Points
  • 23:18:22, 25 April

Humans have a symbiotic relationship with a particular type of bird called the Honeyguide!

Here's an awesome video about them!

  • [-]
  • pencil_pusher
  • 56 Points
  • 23:50:01, 25 April

Amazing! I'm glad to hear that we can coexist with nature, and not simply harm it which I hear too much about.

I've thought up another question if you don't mind, this one is about my dog. He is a special fellow, a border collie/German Shepard. He refuses to go after any animals that entire the yard, and will very much so leave them alone. However, when we are on a walk he will lunge after almost anything that moves (today it was marmots). Did I accidentally do something to condition him out of removing small pest animals at home? Or is this common dog behaviour? (Pest animals as in mice, chickens, and other guys).

Even a random guess at this point would be great, thanks!

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 165 Points
  • 23:54:06, 25 April

Possibly!

He may just be uneasy with a new environment, so feels more aggressive outside of his usual territory.

Similarly, he might assume you as the leader of the "house" territory, thus waiting for you to make the first move on your homestead.

That'd be my random guess!

  • [-]
  • ZMild
  • 232 Points
  • 22:26:31, 25 April

I'm curious about how birds adapt to urban environments. I live in DC, which is densely-built but has a fair number of trees (mostly ornamental). Just wondering how the birds have adapted as the city's grown, where there are trees but no underbrush, lots of odd food and tons of noise?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 521 Points
  • 22:30:19, 25 April

Great question!

Dr. Marzluff and his colleagues have, quite literally, written the book on this topic.

Some birds are known as "urban exploiters," for example: the pigeon. They contain a huge amount of pre-adaptations that made the movement to cities a no-brainer for the species. Their natural habitat involved laying eggs on cliff faces. This quickly translated to laying eggs on building ledges and the like, with very little modification to their behavior being necessary.

Additionally, pigeons can utilize a wide variety of foods found in the urban environment to feed their young. Many young birds require specific food which may not be available in an urban environment. Pigeons, on the other hand, eat the food and convert it to a weird, sludgey material called "crop milk," which they can feed to their young!

As for the noise, there was a slew of recent studies showing that urban birds will increase the pitch of their calls to compete with traffic sounds! It's really quite fascinating!

  • [-]
  • FarmParty
  • 190 Points
  • 06:28:41, 26 April

Crows too!

If you haven't already (and I suspect you have) you should look up some of the crazy shenanigans that crows have pulled in urban environments.

Some will drop a nut in the middle of a crosswalk and wait for a car to run over it, wait for the "walk" signal to turn on, and retrieve their meal.

You can also look up the "decoy nests" that they have made. Tricky little bastards.

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 312 Points
  • 06:44:11, 26 April

Yup, they're ridiculous. My main research is on American crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos), so most of their shenanigans, I've seen first hand!

  • [-]
  • Tonersan23
  • 42 Points
  • 14:00:54, 26 April

At oklahoma state university circa 2002/3, I had a professor who researched crows. She was great and the powerpoints she showed of her field work was hilarious. She always had to wear a different disguise (such as a clown wig) to approach the birds because otherwise they would recognize her. Your ama was great! Thanks!

  • [-]
  • 4a4a
  • 283 Points
  • 22:18:46, 25 April

What do you suggest for parents who want to get their kids excited or interested in biology and or ecology?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 640 Points
  • 22:24:53, 25 April

A pair of binoculars is a good start. A lot of things we don't get a chance to see up close because they flee from people, but binoculars can close the gap pretty quickly.

If they're old enough to not smash the thing, that is.

Zoo tickets are always a winner. Sierra Club membership, I believe, has some cool stuff for kids. I got a little backpack for being a member pretty recently, and you can always take them out for a hike. A little handlens (probably less than 10 bucks) is also excellent for getting a close-up look at things without having to go crazy with high-powered optics.

  • [-]
  • kiraella
  • 87 Points
  • 05:47:18, 26 April

I have the little backpack from the Sierra Club! I also got the hookup of some sweet shirts....but that's because I was working on a campaign.

Seriously, that thing is awesome.

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 201 Points
  • 05:49:01, 26 April

Seriously, that little pack is awesome. It makes an awesome little side-pack for field research because I don't give a shit if it breaks, but the thing has kept up!

  • [-]
  • dezzie
  • 77 Points
  • 11:53:01, 26 April

I say I've quit reddit for good, come back and you're a power user.

God dammit, Ben. God fucking dammit.

Fuck you, you get no question. But we can spoon sometime.

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 111 Points
  • 14:51:54, 26 April

Deal with it.

I'm going to literally beat you to death this summer.

  • [-]
  • iNeedchocolate
  • 138 Points
  • 05:34:42, 26 April

Have you ever been to Australia? Too many birds over there. I'm scared of them because kookaburras stole my pork bun :(

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 182 Points
  • 05:43:58, 26 April

I haven't, but I made a video not too long ago about kookaburras!

  • [-]
  • jscottfoshizzle
  • 241 Points
  • 01:54:22, 26 April

Hit me with the coolest biology fact you got. GO!

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 1020 Points
  • 02:05:22, 26 April

There are so many!

Alright, here's one: some bees will defend their colonies by swarming an invader and buzzing loudly. They buzz so much that they actually heat up the intruder to the point where it actually burns to death.

  • [-]
  • jscottfoshizzle
  • 429 Points
  • 02:21:25, 26 April

I am happy.

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 359 Points
  • 02:22:10, 26 April

Haha, I'm glad I could satisfy your craving for biological factoids!

  • [-]
  • KoopaTroopah
  • 121 Points
  • 04:33:45, 26 April

Here is a video displaying it.

  • [-]
  • SUSAN_IS_A_BITCH
  • 172 Points
  • 23:05:56, 25 April

How dangerous is a cassowary?

Can I actually survive on water from cacti in the desert?

Do peacocks actually shit as much as they breathe?

If you were a bird, what kind of bird would you be?

How easy is it to train half a dozen stray dogs, a house of mice (side question: what is the name for a group of mice?), about a dozen or so songbirds native to America and a tiger?

What the fuck is up with seahorses?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 406 Points
  • 23:17:16, 25 April

> How dangerous is a cassowary

Very. They have a ridiculously sharp talon that could easily disembowel a person powered by an extremely muscular leg. Many ratites are equally dangerous.

Big shoutout to my friends over at /r/cassowary!

> Can I actually survive on water from cacti in the desert?

Probably not to definitely not, depending on the cactus that you're trying! Cacti certainly have water, but they defend it heavily!

If you were to cut open a barrel cactus, you'd be very disappointed with the "water" that was inside of it. It would be in the form of a viscous slime that you would not want to drink, or even chew.

Other desert plants contain milky sap or latex, that can be quite painful to ingest. Some will burn you on contact. I actually just made this video showing the latex that comes out of an African milk tree, for example. The latex contains inflammatory agents, while others can contain things like tannins (which cause the dry feeling in your mouth when you drink red wine) which will bind up protein and make it indigestible, so you'd actually make yourself thirstier and hungrier.

> If you were a bird, what kind of bird would you be?

Southern Screamer. I just like the name. Maybe a lyrebird, so I could mess with people more often.

> How easy is it to train half a dozen stray dogs, a house of mice (side question: what is the name for a group of mice?), about a dozen or so songbirds native to America and a tiger?

Easy at first with the dogs, and then exponentially harder.

The collective term for a group of mice is a "mischief of mice."

> What the fuck is up with seahorses?

They're weird guys. The usual fact is, of course, that the males "have the babies," but in all honesty, males are the ones doing the majority of the parenting in fish.

Why is that? Because they're the last ones with the babies! Fish are externally fertilized, so once the females lay the eggs, the males have to fertilize them, making them the last ones to have them in their care. This has led to selection for them to become the main "caretakers."

Seahorses simply have an extremely intense version of this!

  • [-]
  • whisperingsage
  • 62 Points
  • 00:59:16, 26 April

With something like a lyrebird, if they make the sounds of so many other species and other things found in the forest, how do their mates actually find them?

Or are those other songs and noises interspersed into their actual song?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 138 Points
  • 01:00:35, 26 April

The whole repertoire is how they find their mates, so a female will evaluate the male based on a whole bunch of different songs, the more varied and interesting, the better.

I believe the bird has its own "base" call, too, but it gets modified with all the other sounds it incorporates.

  • [-]
  • fabulous_frolicker
  • 67 Points
  • 00:13:12, 26 April

>Do peacocks actually shit as much as they breathe?

Since he didn't answer that one I'll help you out with it, yes. I used to live in an area with a lot of peacocks, there was always shit on the roof and driveway. And they like to lay their eggs in places where I will accidentally knock them over so my dog will eat it.

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 151 Points
  • 00:46:34, 26 April

Oh wow, I completely skipped over that. My bad!

Yes, they poop quite a bit. The white is actually uric acid, as birds have high water conservation aimed kidneys, so it comes out as a dry mass. The colored part is the feces.

  • [-]
  • trilobot
  • 36 Points
  • 12:22:40, 26 April

I worked at a zoo for a while as a groundskeeper. One night at closing the nigh staff was lazy and didn't' check the bathrooms as she locked up, just locked them and left. I arrived in the morning to a bathroom containing a trapped and panicked peacock, along with all the shit such a creature would produce. Much of it had dried overnight, and I'm sure you're aware how difficult it is to clean that up. Not a fun day.

I also had to repaint the kookaburra enclosure which had a LOT of built up shit on the walls, as well as clean the glass which was covered in butchered chicks. Someone needs to teach this birds some manners.

And then there was Peter the African grey! That damned thing learned the sound of a tractor backing up. All I'd hear as I cleaned up the education building was, "BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP" incessantly.

At least the one greater rhea was nice. She always came up to me and let me pet her first thing in the morning. I liked her.

I have a lot of zoo stories.

  • [-]
  • StellaMaroo
  • 1148 Points
  • 22:25:09, 25 April

Just wanted to say that you're awesome, Unidan!

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 2318 Points
  • 22:26:05, 25 April

This isn't a question, you son of a bitch!

Just kidding, thanks a bunch for the kind words, as always! :D

  • [-]
  • StellaMaroo
  • 473 Points
  • 22:31:20, 25 April

Well shit... I'll rephrase it.

"Do you know how awesome you are and are you planning on staying this way forever and ever?"

Well I guess a serious q to: Do you have any new projects you're planning to do in the future? I assume it would have something to do with nutrients and birds. :)

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 1468 Points
  • 22:33:29, 25 April

> Do you know how awesome you are

I own my own machete, so yes.

> Are you planning on staying this way forever and ever?

Until I accidentally kill myself with my own machete.

As for new projects, yes! I'm doing a joint venture that's about to start this summer involving greenhouse gas research in wetlands. We're going to be working with cattle and seeing how grazing can influence greenhouse gas emissions under specific circumstances to try to put more research behind a very new theory in biogeochemistry!

  • [-]
  • retneftw
  • 198 Points
  • 02:46:59, 26 April

is it a kukri machete? 'cause kukri machetes are the best machete.

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 685 Points
  • 02:49:13, 26 April

Unfortunately no, but it is pretty big!

  • [-]
  • retneftw
  • 220 Points
  • 03:51:20, 26 April

wow that is a bad ass picture. you should check out /r/PenmanshipPorn too.

thank you for everything you do.

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 296 Points
  • 03:52:07, 26 April

Haha, thank you!

  • [-]
  • iamanurse327
  • 304 Points
  • 01:41:08, 26 April

You are so interesting! This is a weird thing to say, but I love the inflection you give off in your posts, with using bold and italics. It makes you seem way more excited. ;)

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 458 Points
  • 02:10:23, 26 April

Haha, thank you!

  • [-]
  • iamanurse327
  • 216 Points
  • 02:13:03, 26 April

I'm all aflutter!

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 850 Points
  • 02:17:26, 26 April

You have arrhythmia.

It's natural.

...see a doctor.

  • [-]
  • qweswr2
  • 52 Points
  • 06:56:29, 26 April

Please be my friend?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 169 Points
  • 07:15:08, 26 April

Fine.

  • [-]
  • VideoLinkBot
  • 105 Points
  • 05:31:08, 26 April

Here is a list of video links collected from comments that redditors have made in response to this submission:

|Source Comment|Score|Video Link| |:-------|:-------|:-------| |Unidan|56|Amazing! Bird sounds from the lyre bird - David Attenborough - BBC wildlife| |Unidan|56|Latex Production in the African Milk Tree| |Unidan|19|Birds lead human to honey| |Unidan|8|Hinckley the Laughing Kookaburra| |Unidan|5|The Bronx Zoo| |Unidan|4|None| |Diaper_cocktail|4|Odd Couple - Fish and Shrimp's symbiotic relationship| |Unidan|3|Giants of Dadanawa| |KoopaTroopah|3|Hornet cooked by bees| |Diaper_cocktail|2|How to hunt Russian Bigfoot| |Cakey123|1|Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis Falconry Training| |LalaLilyr|1|True Facts About The Duck|

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 197 Points
  • 05:31:50, 26 April

This is a neat little bot. Thanks for joining my AMA, mister!

  • [-]
  • dickparrot
  • 49 Points
  • 02:02:03, 26 April

What do you see the role of scientists as within the policy-making process? Does taking a specific and vocal political stance detract from being an objective scientist?

Follow-up: What do you see as the greatest threats/priorities for society in the near future?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 140 Points
  • 02:15:18, 26 April

I wish they had a bigger role, unfortunately, politics often gets in the way. It's difficult to face the influence of money, and yes, I'd say getting too involved can be detrimental. That said, if you're not skewing your results or setting up your experiments to get the results you want to get, then it should be fine.

Disconnect with nature worries me a lot. Most people have no idea how their food is grown, or when foods are grown. To the average person, it's completely normal to get strawberries year round, or to have mangoes in the winter. There's very little thought into what that entails.

Similarly, people are very short-termed in their thinking. I actually believe that has to do with our evolutionary past. You don't evolve a species easily that takes into account something fifteen years down the line, and things like climate change are, essentially, right in our blind spot.

  • [-]
  • Reavers_Go4HrdBrn
  • 136 Points
  • 02:05:02, 26 April

I have you tagged as "Thinks rocks are people" after your post the piure that was on WTF. What is the one biology fact you know that is hardest to get people to believe?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 659 Points
  • 02:11:28, 26 April

That evolution isn't a directional process and that human intelligence isn't the pinnacle of it.

  • [-]
  • sassychupacabra
  • 164 Points
  • 02:18:53, 26 April

ok you've officially been upgraded to actually my hero.

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 204 Points
  • 02:23:16, 26 April

Haha, I try my best!

  • [-]
  • OmnibusPrime
  • 84 Points
  • 01:49:58, 26 April

I can't wait to check out your videos, but I sort of fell into this thread by accident and I'm so damn tired.... but I have a burning question.

As I understand it, Varroa destructor mites typically enter honeybee colonies on drones. The female scurries toward drone cells, favorable because of the extra room. She hides at the bottom of the cell, snacking on the prepupa. Sixty hours after the cell is capped, the female mite lays an egg which will be male. She will then lay a clutch of other eggs, one every 30 hours, which will all hatch as female. The females all mate with the male. When the bee emerges, the mated females leave and are transferred through the colony, while the male and any immature females remain in the cell.

How the hell are these inbred devilspawn able to evolve? A virgin queen bee might mate with her "half brother," but she also mates with as great a number of drones as possible so there's some genetic diversity. It seems less of an issue if her half-brother is only 1/16th of her available genetic bank. Where does mutation/genetic diversity come in on the Varroa life cycle?

When I asked this question years ago at bee school, they just said "because" a few times. I get the same answer now. What am I missing?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 192 Points
  • 02:09:59, 26 April

Good question!

The mites are haplodiploid, which allows the single female to produce offspring without mating, however, this is actually somewhat irrelevant.

Don't forget that its not always just a single mite that may infect a colony! There may be mites from different areas converging on a single bee colony, so you could have gene flow occurring there.

Even if they don't cross with other mites, that's not the only mechanism for evolution, there's also genetic drift and mutation, too!

It's possible that genetic mutations can arise that quickly sweep the population (because almost all offspring are guaranteed to have that mutated allele, as you say), so fluctuations may be quick and sweep completely in this species. There could also be methylation and epigenetic effects on these guys, too!

That said, even if they don't get new genetic combinations, is that necessarily a bad thing? Their strategy works and they may be under no pressure to evolve any differently!

  • [-]
  • PoWn3d_0704
  • 97 Points
  • 06:07:41, 26 April

I understood some words!

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 161 Points
  • 06:12:40, 26 April

Let me know what you need defined!

  • [-]
  • PoWn3d_0704
  • 24 Points
  • 06:50:04, 26 April

You're such a good guy, Unidan. If anyone can get ANYONE excited about Biology, it's you. I actually have you tagged as 'Excited Ecologist' because it has a better ring.

I've also upvoted you 36 times thus far xD

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 86 Points
  • 06:53:31, 26 April

D'aww, shucks!

  • [-]
  • skidoos
  • 218 Points
  • 04:21:39, 26 April

No question. I just wanted to say this is one of, if not, the best AMAs I have ever had the pleasure to see. Thank you.

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 261 Points
  • 04:22:04, 26 April

Haha, really? Why's that?

Thank you for the very kind compliment, cheers!

  • [-]
  • Threemor
  • 125 Points
  • 12:52:48, 26 April

Dude. You're funny, knowledgable, you give full answers and not one liners, you respond to responses, you're like the wet dream of AMAs. Tell THAT to your significant other.

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 177 Points
  • 14:16:20, 26 April

I will.

  • [-]
  • ioneeuropa
  • 20 Points
  • 07:53:01, 26 April

Thoughtful answers and lots of them.

  • [-]
  • sassychupacabra
  • 122 Points
  • 01:26:57, 26 April

What's the scariest thing that's happened to you out in the field? Funniest?

Also you manage to actually make me grin and laugh you day-brightener, you.

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 400 Points
  • 01:51:11, 26 April

Scariest?

I was in Costa Rica, working in a former banana plantation when a Tico worker in front of me called out that he found a terciopelo. That's a fer-de-lance, for those that may know it as that. Bothrops asper. Here's a picture of what their bite can do to a person (NSFL). That's after a two-week treatment with antibiotics, but no antivenom.

So the guys yells that he found one. I cut down a banana tree to get to him, but as I lift the trunk, there's my own viper right under the tree. I had my machete out so I cut it to pieces.

I want to say I cut it up like a badass (not that you should ever, ever try to kill a snake, in fact, as someone commented below, stepping backwards is a much better way to avoid a strike), but it was more like I hacked at it like a chimpanzee while trying not to shit my pants. I felt bad for killing the guy, but when the nearest hospital is four hours away by dirt road, I don't take chances.

The funniest?

Last summer my lab mate and I were working in a wetland with cows. They get in the way a lot, so we chase them off. We went to chase one off, until we realized it was a bull. We had to run through a wetland to escape and jumped into an experimental plot to hide. It was funny in retrospect.

EDIT: I hope in no way that I'm coming off as advocating for killing snakes, so I apologize if people got that impression!

  • [-]
  • Noxwood
  • 70 Points
  • 06:51:45, 26 April

I hovered over that link. It was blue, and I had hover zoom, and now I am scarred.

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 113 Points
  • 06:52:20, 26 April

Yep.

  • [-]
  • yabadass
  • 79 Points
  • 05:15:45, 26 April

Are fractals a common occurrence throughout nature? What, in your opinion, is their relevance if any?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 181 Points
  • 05:18:20, 26 April

Yes, they are, actually!

A lot of papers will refer to Mandelbrot sets and "self-design" when talking about restoration practices.

The goal is to make a pattern at some local level and hopefully let the natural community replicate that pattern as it expands outwards. I've seen this done in wetlands and it seems to hold true pretty nicely. So if you're looking at a ten by ten meter plot of land, you'll see a certain composition of plant species and if you zoom out to the hectare level, you'll see a similar composition.

  • [-]
  • hinduguru
  • 70 Points
  • 22:57:13, 25 April

I read an article in Scientific American today about Asian Ants and Argentinian Ants. Apparently there's a massive ant war going on between the two. Just how dangerous are Asian ants? It was a short article but I did read that they are a huge danger to North American ecosystems

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 192 Points
  • 23:02:31, 25 April

The main danger to Western ecosystems from the East has nothing to do with their inherent biology in most cases, but, rather, their context.

These are organisms that evolved under completely separate circumstances, so when they come to a new context, they are ecologically "freed" from things like predators and disease until things can adapt to them.

So while native ants struggle against diseases at home, these ants can easily invade, disease and predator free and compete against them directly.

Also, in general, Asian species tend to do better as exotic invaders as many of the species are tropical, which usually have much more competition involved in their evolution than those in North America. This is reflected in plants very readily, where many of our invading plants are Asiatic in origin, for example.

  • [-]
  • blueshirt21
  • 73 Points
  • 05:07:07, 26 April

If you were the host of a science show a la Bill Nye the Science Guy, what would you name said show?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 405 Points
  • 05:09:36, 26 April

I feel like I'd be forced to call it Unidan the Biology Man.

  • [-]
  • blueshirt21
  • 35 Points
  • 05:12:40, 26 April

Nice, good ring.

  • [-]
  • MooJersey
  • 69 Points
  • 01:28:55, 26 April

Okay question: Is there any animal you are actually afraid of? (snakes, lizards, spiders?)

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 271 Points
  • 01:47:24, 26 April

I am probably most afraid of flying insects, especially when they're not predictable fliers. Things like houseflies drive me nuts when they're in my house.

  • [-]
  • EauRouge86
  • 15 Points
  • 06:58:12, 26 April

So, I gather there is a thing as predictable fliers? How does that work?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 146 Points
  • 07:07:11, 26 April

Things like dragonflies, that have really good control over themselves, as opposed to say, ladybugs, which are basically taxi-cabs with rocketpacks.

  • [-]
  • EauRouge86
  • 29 Points
  • 07:15:48, 26 April

I love that description. Now every time I'll see a lady bug (which is quite a lot, recently, what's up with that?) I'll have to think they have a rocketpack strapped on.

When I was a kid, someone told me that black ladybugs like this one are poisonous, as opposed to the orange ones. That's bullshit told by kids, I presume?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 34 Points
  • 07:19:01, 26 April

Yup, no worries.

  • [-]
  • Warlizard
  • 499 Points
  • 23:31:00, 25 April

Please justify your existence.

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 1022 Points
  • 23:38:43, 25 April

Sure thing!

I help to make policy decisions involving water quality that affects people's drinking water and air quality. I also make recommendations for general health and safety!

Most recently, I helped to re-do plans for a business park that had planned to put a children's nursery on top of a former chemical spill site contaminated with PERC.

Additionally, I've done comedy shows to raise money for Veterans and Animal Shelters.

I worked in the jungle to re-establish tropical rainforests, preserving native biodiversity and habitat for rare species, and am currently a college instructor, educating many of tomorrow's doctors and medical professionals!

  • [-]
  • lkf15924
  • 270 Points
  • 05:24:39, 26 April

After reading about your other hobbies of performing and cooking, I now am certain that I correctly tagged you as "I want to marry this man." Those are my same hobbies and I'm a biology major at my college.

So...are you married? =D

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 480 Points
  • 05:25:51, 26 April

I'm not, but I do have a significant other. I'll let her know.

  • [-]
  • lkf15924
  • 247 Points
  • 05:34:59, 26 April

She is just the luckiest! I'm quite jealous.

If you find anyone that is exactly like you in every way, send them my way!

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 534 Points
  • 05:43:02, 26 April

Clone myself, got it.

  • [-]
  • Full_Of_Win
  • 290 Points
  • 07:14:54, 26 April

Can I have one? I just want a reliably smart friend.

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 326 Points
  • 07:20:10, 26 April

Okey doke.

  • [-]
  • bikeswithkites
  • 34 Points
  • 05:17:28, 26 April

Hey Unidan! I think you are fantastic, and I'm always excited to see your posts. I'm an anthropology grad student with a biological focus (who used to major in wildlife bio) so as you can probably tell, I'm a bio fan. I might get the chance to go to Costa Rica and see some primates myself next year!

As for my question...elephants and gorillas are my favorite animals, what are yours? :)

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 91 Points
  • 05:20:36, 26 April

Awesome, good luck with your degree! Go to Costa Rica, it's truly amazing. You might hate monkeys when you come out though, they are malicious creatures.

As for my favorites, I'm quite partial to quetzals and pangolins!

  • [-]
  • Gilgifax
  • 68 Points
  • 02:58:37, 26 April

I love you

or in question form

I love you?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 128 Points
  • 02:59:05, 26 April

Yes, you do!

And I, you.

  • [-]
  • lilyth88
  • 30 Points
  • 05:39:46, 26 April

Tell me something interesting about Canadian Geese. We get them all over Wisconsin and I don't know a ton about them.

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 111 Points
  • 05:41:39, 26 April

They're extremely numerous because people accidentally recreate their natural habitats, which are basically big flats of grass.

  • [-]
  • AhnQiraj
  • 54 Points
  • 22:10:22, 25 April

Were you already passionate by birds as a child ?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 180 Points
  • 22:11:54, 25 April

I think birds are pretty captivating, for sure, though I certainly am more interested in birds now than I was then.

That said, I was certainly enthralled with dinosaurs, which are intrinsically related, so you could make that claim!

  • [-]
  • Mastyx
  • 54 Points
  • 23:20:50, 25 April

How is your work like? What do you do?

Asking because I want to do exactly what you do! (As you can see I'm practising with putting exclamations points!)

P.S. You're awesome dude!

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 114 Points
  • 23:23:12, 25 April

It's good!

I do environmental research, taking soil, gas and water samples to trace nutrients through ecosystems, but also do behavioral observations on wild animals. Then, I usually combine the two data sets to try to see if they influence one another, or even potentially cause one another!

A good amount of my time is spent outside, in the field, but there's always analysis to be done once those field observations and samples have been taken, so I run chemical analyses like gas chromatography and flow-injection analysis.

Thanks for the kind words and good luck in your goal!

  • [-]
  • Diaper_cocktail
  • 54 Points
  • 01:19:48, 26 April

Another question: Have you read Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine's "Last chance to see"? And if you have how old were you and did it influence your academic career?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 122 Points
  • 01:23:10, 26 April

I haven't read that book, but I've read the Hitchhiker series, of course. I'd argue he sees the world with an environmental viewpoint. I also identify strongly with his bizarre humor, it's great!

What's that book about?

  • [-]
  • Diaper_cocktail
  • 72 Points
  • 01:29:37, 26 April

Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine, a zoologist, embark on a trip around the world trying to encounter potentially extinct fauna, hence the name of the book: Last Chance to see. They focus on the White African Rhinoceros (not sure if there's an Asian one), the Yangtze River dolphin, a believe they also discuss the Mountain Gorilla and, I believe, an Amazonian dolphin as well. But my favourite animal they describe is the New Zealand Kakapo, the world's largest, flightless parrot.

As expected Douglas Adams is hilarious. I read this back in 1992 (it was published that year I guess) and recently Stephen Fry retraced Douglas Adam's steps along with Mark Carwardine with the intent of updating the perilous situations of those animals on the verge of extinction. You have to read it!!!

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 92 Points
  • 01:46:53, 26 April

That's excellent, I'll check it out!

  • [-]
  • [deleted]
  • 57 Points
  • 01:58:35, 26 April

What's your best biology joke?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 293 Points
  • 02:00:36, 26 April

What did the male stamen say to the female pistil?

I like your style.

  • [-]
  • Its_the_Fuzz
  • 124 Points
  • 08:54:56, 26 April

Have no idea what those are, laughs anyway

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 74 Points
  • 14:30:06, 26 April

Stamen, pistil and style are all names for reproductive parts of plants :D

  • [-]
  • erratically_sporadic
  • 431 Points
  • 23:50:52, 25 April

erratically_sporadic here!

Would you rather fight a Equus ferus caballus-sized Anas platyrhynchos or 20 Anas platyrhynchos-sized Equus ferus caballus?

Edit: I just saw my question phrased differently somewhere else :( and Fixed!

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 1005 Points
  • 23:52:42, 25 April

Next time, italicize those species names, my friend! EDIT: Atta-boy!

Also, I'll copy and paste the answer I just gave elsewhere:

100 duck-sized horses, for sure.

Have you ever fought a duck? Just a regular duck? Or, failing that, a swan? I have. It's awful.

Trying to fight one the size of a horse would be a nightmare! Just imagine a duck the size of a horse. Huge keel for flapping its 20 foot wingspan, probably enough to break your bones if it hit you.

Plus, the honking.

Take the loudest duck you've ever heard and scale it up until its honking is like an airhorn with the depth of Barry White.

  • [-]
  • erratically_sporadic
  • 229 Points
  • 00:00:41, 26 April

That sounds quacky!

How do you feel about bird puns? Whats your favorite bird joke?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 1021 Points
  • 00:03:33, 26 April

Some yolks about birds are pretty fowl, but owl give it a shot! I'd just hate to come off as a raven loon-atic if I miss the opportunity to make a pheasant joke.

Your tern.

  • [-]
  • erratically_sporadic
  • 335 Points
  • 00:09:58, 26 April

I don't know feather or not I can compete against you in a joke cont-nest! I bet you know a hen-dred!

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 544 Points
  • 00:17:48, 26 April

Go for it, you shouldn't live life with any egrets!

  • [-]
  • mentula_excelsi
  • 229 Points
  • 05:35:02, 26 April

I ju-swan to advise you guys not to get stork in a rut. Even though they're friends, if Chandler couldn't quit punning, albatross would slap him.

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 208 Points
  • 05:42:49, 26 April

Damn, you're good.

  • [-]
  • TheGlowingRogue
  • 135 Points
  • 05:11:29, 26 April

Damn egrets. They're such assholes.

  • [-]
  • SirDinhDang
  • 23 Points
  • 03:20:17, 26 April

Unidan, you're freaking awesome and I love reading your posts.

With that said, my roommate is currently finishing his masters and wants to get into a field similar to yours. Do you have any advice that I can stream along to him?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 54 Points
  • 03:21:52, 26 April

Get experience. Like...right now.

Try to get as much field experience as he possibly can. Did he do a Masters with research, or a non-research Masters?

  • [-]
  • dingobaby92
  • 21 Points
  • 05:22:06, 26 April

Forgive me, but I'm currently studying for an exam for one of my anthropology classes, and seeing how you're working in ecology/environmental thingies...
Do you work with conservation groups, or conservation projects in general? If so, how do you feel about the current set up of these groups and the work they're doing (as in the people vs. "nature" mentality, or that people are inherently bad for "nature")?
Sorry if that didn't make sense or doesn't apply!
P.S. I think you're probably the coolest guy ever. I have you tagged as Sloth King and am always super excited to read your posts :)

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 54 Points
  • 05:25:22, 26 April

Yup, I am a member of the Sierra Club, and I'm a member of several local groups for my own area.

I think they're great! The work they do is usually for the public good and takes people into consideration, though won't completely cave to their needs over the natural world. I think the major view is to try to integrate people with nature without nature always getting screwed.

Minimal impact, I believe, is the goal for most of the conservation groups. They understand people want to use and see natural resources, versus, say, a preservationist view that may literally keep people away.

  • [-]
  • Fliffs
  • 46 Points
  • 01:31:31, 26 April

Thanks for finally doing the ama!

What was the most miserable situation you've been in on a biology related trip, and if it's different what was your most memorable experience?

If you could have any one scientific mystery answered by some kind of lab geenie, what would it be?

What's the weirdest critter, plant or animal, you've ever seen?

Does your username mean anything?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 121 Points
  • 01:46:37, 26 April

Most miserable? Replanting trees in Costa Rica. When you think replanting trees, you're imagining an area with nothing around you. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The areas we replanted were dense with vines, poisonous snakes (terciopelos and eyelash vipers, and I ended up killing a terciopelo) and on a 45-degree incline of mud.

It was probably 95 degrees with 95% humidity at its coolest. That sucked.

My scientific mystery, for myself, at least, would to be able to know the exact position of every bird I was interested in. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to locate a radio tagged bird. It can take hours to find one.

Weirdest critter? A caecilian. They are amphibians that have gone a very strange evolutionary route and currently resemble something more like a worm than what you may think when you think "amphibian."

Yes, it does! It was the name my father read off of our "Uniden" phone when we first got the internet.

  • [-]
  • charina91
  • 62 Points
  • 05:33:40, 26 April

Do you have ADHD? Your high energy makes me wonder! It can have it's benefits.

Also, biology being my first love, I have a BS in biology and am interested in fisheries science and wildlife conservation. Do you have any advice on how to get work in this field abroad?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 129 Points
  • 05:36:18, 26 April

Haha, nope, I'm actually quite a low-key, relaxed guy.

Write into the universities you may want to work in association with. A lot of them will have graduate students who require field workers who I'm sure would love the opportunity to have some extra help.

  • [-]
  • elithunder
  • 20 Points
  • 00:09:05, 26 April

Have you ever been to the Georgia Aquarium?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 60 Points
  • 00:16:56, 26 April

Yes!

But I was seven at the time, so all I really remember was the cool tube thingy.

  • [-]
  • elithunder
  • 19 Points
  • 00:19:49, 26 April

Wait. Now I'm confused. How old are you now?

  • [-]
  • Unidan
  • 47 Points
  • 00:22:49, 26 April

Haha, why was that confusing?