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October 2023 update on the divii project & more

The last full update I shared publicly on the divii project was over a year ago, around the time I was in community in September 2022. The project has come a long way since then, and it's time to share a few exciting things!


In early January 2023, I finally finished reviewing (tagging) all the photos from the cameras that I will be using in my analysis. This was a huge milestone in the project, accounting for months of work. In the final weeks of tagging, I came across some absolutely incredible moments captured on the cameras. I have been sharing those highlights on Twitter, which you can check out by searching #TheDiviiProject. I should update the Camera Highlights page on this website soon, but for now enjoy a couple of the incredible captures below.


Since completing tagging, I've been deep into data analysis (my least favourite part of grad school) but have been extremely grateful to have support from my supervisors and lab's post-doc, Dr. Andrew Barnas. We're making good headway now - see more on that below!


In March, I had the honour of being selected to give a long-form talk at the Joint 2023 Meeting of the British Columbia Chapter & Canadian Section of The Wildlife Society (TWS) in Victoria, BC. My talk was a reflection on the school visits and community open house I hosted in communities the previous September (read all about those here). Following the talk, so many beautiful and meaningful conversations were had with folks from all disciplines in our wildlife community. It was truly a pleasure to engage with a broad audience on how I've found meaning in my research by giving back to the communities and focusing on youth while doing so.

presenting at TWS, March 2023

After the TWS conference, it was time to focus all my attention on the analysis for my first big research question, as I prepared to present the preliminary results at yet another conference in less than two months. The 2023 North American Caribou Workshop & Arctic Ungulate Conference was hosted in Anchorage, Alaska in May, and will likely go down in my books as a career highlight. You can catch the highlights of the conference on Twitter at #NACWAUC2023.


Immediately upon returning to Canada, I took a planned leave of absence from grad school for the summer semester (May - August) and commenced a brief auxiliary appointment with BC Timber Sales, a branch of the Ministry of Forests in the provincial government. This work break was extremely beneficial to my mental and physical health, and was an awesome opportunity to work on career development at this stage in my life. If you've noticed I've been quiet on social media & my website, that's the main reason. On another personal note related to mental & physical health, this summer was full of gardening, visiting family & friends, and enjoying our best salmon-fishing season yet. What an absolute blessing the summer of 2023 was! Still considering a stand-alone blog for both the salmon fishing & gardening adventures... comment below if you'd like to see either of those!


As of today, Monday, October 2nd, I am *officially* back in full-on grad student mode and am feeling refreshed and eager to take on this next challenging stage in the project: finishing!! Which means a LOT of writing, revisions, and detail work to produce the coveted thesis.


The thesis is actually already starting to take shape, and will consist of four chapters. It is currently titled: Using remote camera traps to determine population demographics and community ecology of divii (Dall’s sheep, Ovis dalli dalli) in the Northern Richardson Mountains, NWT: Part of a Gwich’in led community-based monitoring program. Here is a breakdown of what I'm working on producing for the final product!


Chapter 1: Introduction to the broader project, where I situate myself and my work in the broader project, and introduction to my research goals/study rationale

Status: detailed outline complete, most sections drafted


Chapter 2: Remote wildlife cameras capture Dall's sheep population demography in a community-based monitoring program

Status: analysis complete, first full written draft complete, first round of revisions by thesis committee & co-authors complete, preliminary results presented at Arctic Ungulate Conference. The next draft in progress and should be circulated for revisions by the end of October.


Chapter 3: Sharing the land - a temporal evaluation of species co-occurrence, with a focus on divii (sheep) and grizzly bears (shih)

Status: concept & rationale drafted, data exploration in progress. Analysis will be the focus of my work this fall. Hoping to circulate a first written draft to thesis committee & co-authors by the end of November


Chapter 4: Report to community & broader study conclusions

Status: detailed outline complete, some sections drafted


A final note on some exciting things ahead: While working on all the above, I am also in the initial stages of planning my third and final visit to the Gwich'in Settlement Area in February 2024. At this time, I will be sharing the final results of my research, which I suppose means I'm aiming to have final results by the end of January 2024 (a bit scary writing that out...). Recognizing the many inevitable revisions and university graduation procedures, I aim to complete the thesis (graduate!) sometime in the late spring/early summer of 2024. Exciting times!


Finally, thank you for your interest in this work and for checking out this update. I hope to be more consistent with sharing again this semester, so keep in touch!


Cheers,


Syd



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