Take a peek into the Yukon wilds through Canadian Tire

This year Canadian Tire decided to brighten up the Yukon by testing out its NOMA Christmas lights with our friends at the Kluane Lake Research Station (Arctic Institute of North America). This research station is also located in the southwestern Yukon, and this commercial was shot just a few minutes down the road from our own Squirrel Camp! Take a look at the type of scenery some of our lucky McLabbies get to conduct research in. What a beautiful place.

- Maggie Bain


A McLabbie's Favourite Things

Life outside of work does indeed exist, even if those days are few and far between for some. Here's a monthly glance into the life of the McLabbies, because academics are people too! - Maggie Bain

Time to get social

Time to get social

Sound the bells, get out the bunting and take up the cry, they said yes! The next conference hosted by the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution (CSEE), held in Victoria, BC in May 2017, will feature a symposium organised by McLabbies Erin, Julia and David.

The title is “Ecology and Evolution in a Social Context”. The idea is that the social environment (the network of other animals you interact with) is a really important part of the natural world, both influencing how animals behave, but also being created by their interactions. This in itself is not a new idea, but it is only relatively recently that we’ve started to appreciate the role it plays in a wide range of ecological and evolutionary processes. We are bringing scientists together to highlight how the social environment matters in a diverse range of fields, from communication to sexual selection and the functioning of animal groups. We will also be seeing how the techniques used to study animal social behaviour are informing us on classical questions in ecology and evolution. We aim to end the symposium with a discussion on where our speakers think the field is heading.

Organising a symposium like this is great experience for when we hope to be organising entire conferences, working groups and possibly our own labs in the future. But it also means something we think is really important gets discussed at a major conference. By bringing together a diverse array of speakers, we’re confident that almost anyone will find something of interest, and that a bunch of different insights will arise.

Only one way* to find out though, so come join us as CSEE2017, and check out the symposium.

- David FIsher



*we’ll probably be tweeting a bunch during the symposium, so you may be able to keep tabs on what’s going on through that medium. But it won’t be nearly as fun!

 Spaghetti, Spinach, and....Strawberries?  Oh my!

Spaghetti, Spinach, and....Strawberries? Oh my!

This past Friday the McAdam and Turetsky Labs gathered to celebrate the second annual Spaghetti Night in Canada. The goal of the evening (beyond the conversation and camaraderie of fellow scientists) was to create a culinary delight through purposeful lack of planning and sheer luck. Andrew and Merritt provided the spaghetti and red sauce, and each lab member was required to bring one item for the sauce without coordinating flavors that might nicely meld. (You might be beginning to see the dilemma here…) Said lack of coordination resulted in the addition of much broccoli and leafy greens to the pot. I threatened to bring pineapple (Hawaiian sauce anyone?) but David threatened to excommunicate me from the office sooo… the sauce went wanting. However, the addition of strawberries and Chorizo lent the sauce a spicy and slightly sweet taste, leading to smiles and laugher all around, even from the littlest of the McAdam-Turetsky clan. 

Erin Siracusa

McAdam and Turetsky Lab members prepare to feast!

McAdam and Turetsky Lab members prepare to feast!

The results of our saucy concoction...

The results of our saucy concoction...

Surprise! It's palatable after all :)

Surprise! It's palatable after all :)

(Careful) Adventures in marking Drosophila

Drosophila is a great system to study the evolution of aggression. To understand how aggressive and non-aggressive flies interact, we are individually marking them with acrylic paint. We anesthetize the flies and apply different combinations of blue and pink paint to their thorax. It's a delicate process, and takes a bit of patience, but it's worth it to find out how aggression persists in populations.

Julia Kilgour

Buckets and bunny feet, oh my!

Left: Female squirrel guarding her peanut butter (credit: Simon Tardif); Right: Carrying 20kg of peanut butter through the boreal forest (credit: Andrea Wishart).

Left: Female squirrel guarding her peanut butter (credit: Simon Tardif); Right: Carrying 20kg of peanut butter through the boreal forest (credit: Andrea Wishart).

I started this semester as an MSc student in the McAdam lab working on red squirrels, but I was just up in Kluane for six months this year working as a technician on the core data collection for the long term Kluane Red Squirrel Project. Designing your own thesis and collecting your own data is really rewarding, but it's also super cool to be part of a long term collaborative project like this.

One of the longest running experiments in KRSP is a food addition experiment where we supplement one of the grids with peanut butter in buckets we hang from trees to see how the squirrel population changes. Over winter we refill the PB in all the buckets around the grid every six weeks (as I am doing in the photo above), which also gives us a chance to see what else the squirrels are doing with the buckets. Some of them, like this female, build nests next to the PB-filled yogurt containers, or cache other stuff in the buckets – like snowshoe hare feet. It’s always a surprise of what you might find when you open the lid of a squirrel bucket!

Welcome to Our New Website

Welcome to our shiny new lab website!  We will use this 'News' page to keep things fresh with updates on recent papers, accomplishments and awards in the lab as well as some less formal updates on the kinds if things we are up to.  Comments are also most welcome!