Patrick Cross

Patrick Cross

Bozeman, MT

Yellowstone Ecological Research Center

Ecologist

More

Published on May 30, 2018

Citizen Science Success!!!

Despite a rapidly melting snowpack and difficult snow tracking conditions, the 16 volunteers who participated in our Alpine Otters project in the Beartooth Mountains on May 20, 2018, recorded four ...

Group 6 Copy 179
Published on Apr 19, 2018

Can you pass the wildlife tracker quiz?

Just wanted to give all of our experiment.com backers a quick update on our upcoming citizen science project, which is only one month away on Sunday, May 20.We recruited 48 potential volunteers at ...

Group 6 Copy 200
Published on Jan 12, 2018

THANK YOU!!!

Group 6 Copy 174
Published on Jan 09, 2018

What's Next: Defining Methods, Recruiting Volunteers, and Finishing Fundraising

As our crowdfunding campaign comes to a close, we would first like to thank the 46 backers who helped us exceed our funding goal. Along with fully funding the citizen science part of our project an...

Group 6 Copy 215
Published on Dec 29, 2017

Who We Are: The Yellowstone Ecological Research Center (YERC)

In 1995, when grey wolves were released in Yellowstone National Park as part of their U.S. Endangered Species Act recovery plan, coyotes were among the residents hearing their first howls. So were ...

Group 6 Copy 156
Published on Dec 20, 2017

Alpine Otters... Now Arctic Beavers!

Great story in the New York Times today about beavers moving into the Arctic, most likely as a result of climate change. Like our upcoming Alpine Otters project, this research sheds light on nature...

Group 6 Copy 143
Published on Dec 18, 2017

Study Area Profile: The Beartooth Plateau

The Beartooth Plateau is a distinctive piece of topography on numerous fronts. For one, it is the largest landmass over 10,000' in the contiguous United States, home to the 40 tallest peaks in Mont...

Group 6 Copy 196
Published on Dec 13, 2017

Bringing Space Age Technology to the Beartooth Plateau

Our project will use snow tracking and scat analysis, two of the oldest, simplest, and most effective techniques devised for learning more about animals like river otters. But how can we learn more...

Group 6 Copy 141
Published on Dec 05, 2017

Recent Evidence of River Otters on the Beartooth Plateau

The splash I saw upon arriving at Jordan Lake last summer seemed way too big to be a fish. But after waiting a couple minutes, no brown furry head popped up, so we continued on and set up camp. The...

Group 6 Copy 177
Hi Steve, Good to hear from you. Yes, this is the last year for the ol' A-Frame: I tried to enjoy it as much as possible this winter (200% of average snowpack! - literally had to dig down to access the front door in March!), and we are putting it to good use this summer with the field crew that is doing aspen browsing/release assessments in the Park and water sampling on the Yellowstone in Paradise Valley. Going to miss that place - that's one reason why I made sure to include it in our otter crew group photo. But looking forward to our future digs! I don't think Anicka's Olympus is a film camera (as you said, tough to find a developer these days, especially since she and her husband live in Cooke City) - I think it is just slick retro styling. I will check with her though and let you know if it is. All the best, Patrick
Jun 01, 2018
Alpine Invaders in the Greater Yellowstone
View comment
Hi Angie, We will be working on the analysis this summer and fall. Unfortunately, our sample size ended up being pretty small and it might be hard to make any strong conclusions from it. We need more data, and trying to collect it all in one day in one big sweep just might not work: for example, the team on our highest elevation transect did not record any otter sign (and that team included an experienced mountain guide/former wilderness ranger from the area as well as a PhD ecologist), and yet the previous week one of those guys happened to be skiing in the exact same area and did see tracks! But fortunately, (1) we learned a lot about how we might run this project different next time, (2) our volunteers did great work, had fun, and want to come back and volunteer again, and (3) we DID get some data, proving the concept and demonstrating the ability of citizen scientists to get out there and do the work well. Also, one of those sets of tracks WAS substantially smaller than a track right next to it, and therefore may represent a juvenile, which would be an exciting find! I will be doing some statistical analyses on track sizes to determine if (a) the measurements of that track were significantly different than adult tracks, and (b) the measurements of that track were significantly different that juvenile tracks. So in short, I think this project has just begun! But what we did accomplish this go around still is notable, and will make a great video (after all, getting perfect results in natural sciences almost never happens, and communicating that to the general public is important) and possibly even make a peer-reviewed journal article too. Thanks again for your support!
May 31, 2018
Alpine Invaders in the Greater Yellowstone
View comment
Or maybe cutthroat trout heads... thanks!
Jan 15, 2018
Alpine Invaders in the Greater Yellowstone
View comment
Thank you, Marypat! And thanks for your support and all your help getting the word out about this project. We will be sure to name an otter "Old Neutriment"...
Jan 12, 2018
Alpine Invaders in the Greater Yellowstone
View comment
Thanks for the kind words and generous contribution, Steve! I think you know as well as anyone how much we care about the Beartooths and its inhabitants (and how much we like getting out into the Beartooths to study its inhabitants!)
Jan 11, 2018
Alpine Invaders in the Greater Yellowstone
View comment
Cool photos, and congrats on getting funded! In the weasel photo, is that a hunk of black bear hanging in the tree? And for your wolverine traps, interesting to see you use dimensional lumber instead of more natural materials like Copeland's original log cabin trap design (although I do recognize that good logs "might" be hard to come by in your study area, and that the resident willows ain't gonna' cut it for a wolverine trap.) Do you think there is any loss of trap efficacy using the dimensional lumber? It would be interesting to do (albeit difficult to fully control and interpret) a comparative test in a forested environment. Shaping the natural materials just so does seem like it would be a time-consuming pain on-site, whereas the dimensional lumber seems like it would save a lot of time (when I built those traps for foxes I did not have to be so precise since a fox won't chew his way out like a wolverine would)....
Jan 10, 2018
Why do wolverines need snow?
View comment
Thanks, Sarah, and good luck with your exciting project as well!
Jan 04, 2018
Alpine Invaders in the Greater Yellowstone
View comment
The free software ML-Relate might be worth looking into for a cheap way to assess relatedness... good luck!
Dec 20, 2017
Building family trees in the Critically Endangered Livingstone's fruit bat
View comment
You're welcome, Angie! For effective research (as in, to make the most of limited time and limited funding), we usually need to focus on a very specific set of questions. Yet to actually have an important impact, we need to make sure to place those questions in the context of the bigger picture (there's probably an ecosystem metaphor here). I had a college professor who would always say "it doesn't matter how many primary feathers are on the wing of the golden-crowned warbler" (or something like that), "what matters is: who cares about these birds and their feathers? why is counting them important? what is the gap in knowledge we are addressing with this research?" So thanks to experiment.com for providing this "lab note" section, allowing us to put things in context, provide more background, and have conversations like this. And thanks to you, Angie, for your interest and support!
Dec 19, 2017
Alpine Invaders in the Greater Yellowstone
View comment
Thanks! And I think the outreach and support from within the experiment.com community has been pretty awesome too!
Dec 13, 2017
Alpine Invaders in the Greater Yellowstone
View comment
SPECIAL UPDATE: Since this Lab Note was posted, I was contacted via experiment.com's messaging service with an additional otter observation in the study area! The report was of tracks observed last month around the inlet of Kersey Lake and nearby streams. It is exciting to know that the word is getting out about this project, and that folks are keeping an eye out for otters and otter sign in the Beartooths. If anyone else has any observations to report, please contact me, and better yet, try to (1) estimate the number of otters present, and (2) collect track measurements (widest width and longest length NOT including claws) and slide widths from each individual. Thanks!
Dec 07, 2017
Alpine Invaders in the Greater Yellowstone
View comment
Thanks Emily! I will be sure to put Sam to work (and believe me, I've already told him all about it). Besides, he and the otters have a lot in common: like the snow, catch a lot of fish, show up in random places all over the Beartooths...
Dec 01, 2017
Alpine Invaders in the Greater Yellowstone
View comment
Show more comments