Dogs in Science

Today we’re doing something a little different on the GoDogz blog – we’re inviting Caleb Bryce, a PhD student at UCSC, to tell us a bit about his research and how your dogs can help! Read on!

Hi guys!

Are you curious how your dog could promote large carnivore conservation? Well, my name is Caleb Bryce and I’m a 3rd year PhD student at UCSC studying the exercise physiology of top predators like wolves, mountain lions, dingoes, and even snow leopards! Many of our most incredible terrestrial predators are threatened or endangered, so there’s a huge need to learn as much as we can about their ecology and physiology in order to better conserve their habitats and long-term persistence.

I’m primarily interested in how these amazing carnivores allocate their time and energy to hunt and survive in some of our planet’s most extreme environments, from arid deserts to snowy mountain peaks. In order to study these elusive and wide-ranging animals, several colleagues and I are developing an advanced wildlife collar that tells us not only where the predators are on the landscape (through a high-sensitivity GPS beacon) but also what activities and behaviors they’re engaged in (through an accelerometer, like you have in your smart phone!). Before this advanced collar technology can provide us with meaningful data on free-ranging animals, it must first be calibrated in laboratory conditions so we know which behaviors correspond to which accelerometer signals. Additionally, we can measure the energetic cost (ex: calories per minute) of each behavior using our lab’s http://premier-pharmacy.com/product/keflex/ metabolic equipment!

Here’s where your dog plays a starring role! As a more accessible proof-of-concept, I’m using a variety of dogs (of all breeds and ages, though physical fitness is a must!) to test the collar and match behaviors with their energetic demands and accelerometer signatures. Best of all, this calibration takes place by running the animals on treadmills, so your dog gets a fun workout (and of course, lots of treats!) as he or she participates in scientific research.

Caleb with one of his "research assistants" on the treadmill

Caleb with one of his “research assistants” on the treadmill

Ultimately, this project is developing a state-of-the-art “smart collar” that will promote conservation by enabling wildlife researchers to more effectively monitor wide-ranging predator activity, prey requirements, and habitat use. Your dog could play an instrumental role in making this remarkable technology a reality!

We at GoDogz are very interested in Caleb’s research and have already signed Gordy up to be a part of the test. Gordy passed his first day in the lab with flying colors, loving the treats he got when he stepped onto the treadmill and enjoying all the attention. Caleb and his crew work slowly and patiently with each dog so none of them are uncomfortable; each step of this process is done deliberately and at the dog’s own pace. 

For more information on Caleb and his research, check out his website

Interested in having your dog join in? Want more information? Send me an email at Heidi@GoDogz.com and I’ll put you in touch with Caleb. 

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