A while back I wrote a post on how to tell if you’re a crazy cyclist, and I thought it would be fun to do a similar quiz for field biologists. Now you don’t have to be a field biologist to fill a lot of these criteria…naturalists and nature enthusiasts, basically anyone who loves to be outdoors, will fit a lot of the descriptions.
1. Not easily bugged Insects are omnipresent in a field biologist’s life. They are a fact of nature. Yes, even in the snow. If you find yourself unperturbed by arthropods, give yourself one point. If you don’t mind creepy crawlies crawling or creeping on your skin, give yourself two. If you’ve even washed dead insects out of your hair at the end of the day, give yourself five.
2. Parasitized If you spend a lot of time outside, you are guaranteed to pick up an unwanted visitor (or five, or fifty). If you’ve plucked at least one species of ectoparasite off your body at the end of the day, give yourself a point. Give yourself two points if you’ve picked off more than one species after a day in the field. Give yourself five points if you’ve flicked said ectoparasites at your friends over a cold one at dinner.
3. Weathered Field biologists tend to be obsessed with the weather. We’ve been through it all, rain, hail, sleet, snow…and we’re constantly discussing what the weather will be like in five minutes and in five days. If you’ve ever had a conversation purely about the weather (past, present, or future) that lasted longer than 15 minutes, give yourself one point. If you have a weather website bookmarked, give yourself two. If you check the website more than ten times a day, and/or can tell when it is going to rain by sensing that subtle temperature drop preceding it, give yourself five.
4. The two shelves paradigm Field biologists are remarkably good at carrying lots of heavy equipment in the field. Any field biologist worth his/her salt knows that there are two shelves on the (standard) human body that can bear a lot of weight: the shoulders and the hips. If you’ve ever carried more than fifty pounds of equipment (to include bags of soil of course) into the field, give yourself a point. If you’ve ever had a binocular strap tan, give yourself two. If you’ve carried a backpack full of mist-netting equipment, a car battery, a thirteen foot pole, and a nine foot aluminium ladder through a peat bog (or the equivalent), give yourself five.
5. Thermostat Field biologists spend time outside in all kinds of weather and all kinds of seasons, so they tend to have a pretty high temperature tolerance. If you find that you are comfortable in a range of temperatures more than double that of *ordinary* humans around you (i.e. humans adjusted to temperature controlled conditions), give yourself a point. If you’ve ever gotten frostbite before you’ve felt cold, give yourself five.
6. Big Fish Most of the field biologists I’ve known love to spin a good yarn to anyone who will listen. If you have a particular obsession for storytelling, give yourself a point. If most of your stories start with, “This one time, in the field…” give yourself two. If you can point to scars on your body to go along with the story, give yourself five.
7. Hands on Field biology is a very hands on career. It requires you to apply both your body and your mind to solve problems. If you’re a hands on kind of person, give yourself a point. If that includes catching/holding wild animals, give yourself two. If you go out of your way to find salamanders under rocks, give yourself five.
8. Junk in the trunk You has to be pretty innovative sometimes when you’re in the field. Maybe you’re in the middle of nowhere, you certainly can’t afford to backtrack to the nearest Wal-mart to pick up something you’ve forgotten. If you always have a healthy supply of duct tape in the trunk of your car and the ability to make just about anything out of PVC piping, give yourself a point. If you’ve ever invented something on the spot to solve a problem using just out of the junk in the trunk of your car, give yourself five MacGyver. Remember, a good field biologist always has a lot of junk in his/her trunk!
9. What’s in a name? Competent field biologists are very aware of the living world around them. They often know the names not only of their study organisms, but of the flora and fauna around them, the types of ecosystems to expect in given locations, and the land use history of their area. If you can comfortably name more than 50% of the plant and animal species in your area, give yourself a point. If you know most of them by more than one name (i.e. common and Latin), give yourself two. If you’re more embarrassed about forgetting the Latin name of burdock (it’s Arctium minor, btw) than about forgetting the name of that guy you just met, give yourself five.
10. Out of doors There is something incredibly special about being outside. That’s where everything happens, am I right? If you require a certain amount of time outside every day, give yourself a point. If you must get outside, even in the face of incredibly horrible weather, give yourself two. If you get hives from spending too much time indoors, give yourself five.
11. It’s a dirty joke It’s true, field biologists get pretty dirty. Wading through waist high mud will do that to a person. If you have a high tolerance for being covered in dirt, sweat, and blood, give yourself a point. If you turn the water black when you finally get to take a shower, give yourself two.
12. Creature comforts Staying at a field station requires you to sacrifice certain comforts of civilization; hot water, electricity, food other than beans and rice…yet, if you are super stoked to stay at a biological station because of all the cool animals or plants (or fungi) you will possibly spot, give yourself a point. Give yourself five if you are willing to travel halfway around the world, camp in snow, or sleep in a tree canopy just for the chance of seeing that one rare thing…
0-12 Just not an outdoorsy type? That’s okay; nobody’s perfect.
13-20 You’re a weekend warrior! You like the occasional dalliance with nature, but you’re not signing any contracts.
21-30 Puppy love…you’re getting to that point where you miss the out-of-doors terribly when you can’t be out there. This is just the beginning, my friend.
31-40 Pretty tough! You’ve got the makings of an excellent field biologist. Think about quitting your day job. (Hint: don’t do it for the money.)
41-50 You’re probably a naturalist with a strong passion for everything outside. You might even have lists of the different things you’ve seen. Heavens forbid!
51-57 Yep, you’re a field biologist all right. I’d shake hands with you, but you smell.
YYYYYYYYYYeeeepp. I am a 54 according to that quiz. Sorry about the stench.
What’s your score?