Tuesday, May 9, 2017

First Post!

Hi everyone! My name is Mary Kearney, and I am a graduate of Michigan State University. I graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Zoology with concentrations in neurobiology and animal behavior; ecology, evolution, and organismal biology; and cell and developmental biology. I first heard about the Holekamp lab in 2014 when I went on the study abroad program called BEAM (Behavioral Ecology of African Mammals) and I immediately fell in love with the National Parks and Reserves of Kenya. Upon coming home from the study abroad, I began working on an undergraduate research project with one of the lab’s PhD students and some fellow undergraduates. 

We used GPS collar data from seven hyenas of different ranks to look at the differences in space-use of hyenas living near the border of the Reserve. Our findings showed that the space-use of urban environments did not differ significantly between low and high ranking hyenas. This suggests that semi-urban environments can provide valuable resources to both low and high ranking hyenas despite the cost of human-wildlife conflict. We presented our findings at UURAF (University Undergraduate Research and Arts Fair) in April of 2015. During this time, I was also helping a past Research Assistant with their project involving the identification of individual lions and cheetahs living within the Mara.

My time in the Mara has been great so far. I am thoroughly impressed with my fellow RA’s and their ability to identify each of our 200 or so hyenas! I myself am just able to identify a few, but I cannot wait to get more under my belt. Aside from the momentous task of memorizing over 200 individuals, is remembering the layout of the land. It is so beautiful here but also so easy to get lost! So far being in the driver’s seat (while learning to drive stick) has helped the most with that, but no matter how challenging the work may be, it is comforting to know there is always a delicious meal on the way! Camp life is nothing short of interesting and I can’t wait to update you all again!

Dinner time!

In my opinion, cheetahs are the most beautiful animal in the Mara.

One of my favorite photos so far.

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