A field vehicle can be one of the most valuable pieces of equipment that a field biologist uses, both monetarily and in terms of utility. Depending on the nature of your field work, a proper field vehicle can make or break an experiment.
Although field biologists will argue all day about what the best field vehicle is, it really depends on what you need at the time. Sometimes, you have to make do completely without a field vehicle. In the best of times, you have a field vehicle ideally suited to your research. At such times, you can become almost emotionally attached to your vehicle. You’ve been through a lot together, creek beds and mud slicks. You’re both a little beaten up and dented by the end of the season…maybe neither of you is firing on all cylinders.
A field vehicle can be a field biologist’s best friend.
From the little Toyota Corolla into which we would daily play a game of tetris to get six mist nets, a field spectrophotometer, a bird blind, a 4 meter pole with a mirror on, a 2 meter aluminium ladder, a small table and two folding chairs, a bird banding kit, and five sweaty field biologists, to the all-wheel drive sports utility vehicle which I took through all kinds of terrain with squealing undergrads in the back, to the dinky fire van that has been to the moon (and once caught on fire), field vehicles have featured in my own work very heavily.
O field vehicle, how we have loved thee
On the land and on the sea
Rambling o’er hill and dale
I wonder oft if you will fail
And as we plunge through muddy stream
I hear your undercarriage scream
And so I write this ode to you, and pray
That you will last the season (or at least the day)
That you will not feel overwrought
You vehicle that I have bought.