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Biology 130: Methods in Field Biology

Information for students: Spring 2018


Methods in Field Biology is a course designed to teach basic field methods and the philosophy and skills that underlie quality study design and data collection. This is the course that can get you started with work in the field.Interested in being a field biologist?

  • Want to join scientists at their field sites, learn their techniques & help conduct research?
  • Gain first hand knowledge of California organisms & ecosystems
  • Learn how to plan and conduct field research
  • Learn leadership and group work skills

Spring 2018: Class meets on Friday mornings (8 am - 1 pm) plus 2 weekend field trips to UC Nature Reserves only accessible to researchers:

  • March 2-4 at Santa Cruz Island
  • April 20-22 at Rancho Marino Reserve


Students will use many different techniques to collect data in the field.

This is a hands-on course where students learn the background through readings and lectures in the field. Working together, students then apply the techniques to collect and report the data.

It is often very difficult to get this type of experience because most field biologists do not hire students without experience. This course will provide that foundation that can be added to a resume and increase the chances of being hired to collect field data for ongoing research. These skills are essential for anyone who hopes to work in field biology whether at a University, non-governmental organization (i.e. World Wildlife Fund, Nature Conservancy, etc.), state or federal agency, or environmental consulting firm.

Instructors Dr. Michelle Paddack, and Dr. Adam Green have many years of experience working in the field in the U.S. and numerous other countries. Their goal is to not only teach students how to think like a field scientist, but also to teach the basics of how to survive and enjoy being in the field.

Whenever possible researchers actively conducting field research are included in the course. This way students meet and work with those designing and conducting experiments, publishing their research, or conducting conservation programs. This effectively increases the faculty of the course to include many additional experienced biologists.

Working together to collect data in the field builds a special community atmosphere among students and faculty. There is no other academic college experience that creates this level of connection.

plant surveys
Surveying plants for a remote sensing project led by Dr. Dar Roberts of UCSB


on boat
Taking boat across the channel to Santa Cruz Island


grey whale
Surveying marine mammals in Santa Barbara Channel


hiking sc island
Hiking Santa Cruz Island


kit fox
Studying behavior of the endemic Channel Island kit fox on Santa Cruz Island


SCI scrub jay
Endemic Santa Cruz Island Scrub Jay, banded


early morning at the station
Early morning preparing for the day on Santa Cruz Island

cal quail
California Quail, Bird Surveys on Santa Cruz Island


elephant seals
Observing Elephant seals


intertidal survey
Surveying the intertidal at Rancho Marino


monarch butterfly tagging
Tagging Monarch Butterflies


Morro Beach surveys
Surveying clams on Morro Strand


mountain lion
Mountain lion caught on camera at Big Creek reserve


mole crabs
Mole Crabs found during beach surveys


Learning radio telemetry at Rancho Marino

camping at Rancho Marino
Camping at Rancho Marino

Spider surveys


hiking Rancho Marino
Hiking Rancho Marino Reserve

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Revised 9 December, 2014
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