April 11, 2016
The 2016 Boyd Evison Graduate Research Grant has been awarded to Maggie Rabion. Maggie is a graduate student at U.C. Berkeley who will study sprider blood in the Tetons this coming year.
More information about Maggie Rabion and her project:
Maggie grew up in northern Minnesota and received her B.Sc. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana in Missoula. While an undergraduate, Maggie discovered a new species of spider along the Snake River south of Grand Teton National Park. The new species, now called “mason spiders”, are unique among spiders because they do not construct webs or burrows; they build mounds.
Following graduation from UMT, Maggie worked on various projects as a field technician including studying songbird nesting with the Montana Wildlife Cooperative Research Unit, speciation in fruit flies at the University of Georgia, and nocturnal bee behavior in Panama with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Unit.
Maggie is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of California, Berkeley in the Environmental Science, Policy & Management Department. For her graduate work, Maggie has returned to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to study the natural history and behavior of mason spiders. With help from the Boyd Evison Graduate Fellowship, Maggie will be expanding her graduate research to explore the implications of winter climate change on overwintering spiders.
One of the major research goals of Grand Teton National Park is to “investigate climatic influences to aquatic and terrestrial habitats of fisheries and wildlife”. Recent climate models suggest that the most significant changes in climate to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem will be in winter conditions, specifically winter snow cover. Despite these predictions, researchers know almost nothing about how these changes will impact overwintering animals. Short-lived animals, like many spiders, are especially vulnerable to winter climate change because they spend the majority of their lives overwintering beneath an insulating layer of snow. Maggie plans to use her fellowship award to explore the implications of winter climate change on spiders in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.