Back to the field, a bit older, carrying a bit more knowledge and some new titles, bringing some greetings and supplies toward my second home in forest. Things here are the same, but different too: the forest trails I've learned so well, with some elephant-made alterations. Many of those same old chimps I’ve loved since 2013, but with some of my favorite faces gone, and some ones faces I can’t wait to learn. Plus a new alpha that I'm trying to come to terms with... he's really not my favorite. The same field team I’ve worked with for years, but they’ve all grown and added to their families, too. And we've added some new friends and colleagues at another site! I’m full of the hope in new-ness that comes with an American spring or a Ugandan rainy season: fresh beginnings in a familiar place.
This season I’ll be taking new data, following new focals, thinking about new and different questions and challenges- but it’s all still rooted in understanding where we came from and how we came to be that way. I’ll be more focused on the adults than I have before, but don’t worry, I’m not abandoning the chimp babies. I promise, as always, to spam your timelines with chimpanzee baby pictures as often as possible while I’m here. Same forest, same chimps, but new questions and new methods (and a few new chimps, too).
As any developmentally-minded biologist might do, I’ve been ruminating on how my blog has shifted and changed over the years, as I’ve learned and experienced more. At the start of it, my only goal was to write things down in one place to relieve the pressure of individually emailing everyone I knew. Over the years I’ve continued recording those stories as they happen, and added some more experimentation with more informal ways of communicating science. My aim this time is to do a bit of the same, but to do it differently with more intention and an eye on the bigger picture. I hope that this space can grow into a new purpose this year- one for people I was ten or fifteen years ago aching to find their way into this field and in need of a take-off point. Something like field advice and how-to columns, plus a post here or there helping to put our research and publications into context, and, of course, updates on some of the chimps that I’ve featured through the years on this blog (sneak peak: at least one more of my original study juveniles has had a baby in the community!).
This blog is a forum share my personal experiences as a field researcher and traveler.