Posted by Anna Probert @afprobert
From effects of artificial light on wildlife to sexual selection and weaponry of spiders and stress responses of seabirds, there is some really neat research being produced by students within our wider lab group.
In my opinion, one of the best things about being a PhD student is engaging with scientists conducting interesting research outside of my own field, and in some cases, having the opportunity to tag along and help them in the field. I had this pleasure last month, when I went down to Pureora Forest Park, where PhD student Kat Collier is researching the New Zealand lesser short-tailed bat Mystacina tuberculata.
The opportunity to get up close and personal with a native New Zealand mammal is something that not many people, let alone many other scientists, often have the opportunity of doing. And whilst I had an enjoyable time out in the forest (which makes a nice change from the open scrub ecosystems I work in for my ant research), I also came back with some new skills and understanding of different ecological methods, such as radio-tracking and harp and mist netting for bats.
Going out into the field with other researchers is a great way to provide what is often much needed field assistance and support, as well as broaden your own personal skill set, which you may not have the opportunity to do within the limits of your own research. It’s also a great way to realise what you don’t like.
Overall, I think it helps to make you a more rounded ecologist and is a great excuse to get out the office and have a break from your own research.
Anna Probert is a PhD student in the Centre for Biodiversity & Biosecurity, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland. She is using ants as a model to assess the risk posed by exotic invertebrates to native ecosystems. She is supervised by Margaret Stanley, Jacqueline Beggs, and Darren Ward.