Dr. Aurélie Cohas has always appreciated marmots. Now she’s an expert on how they live with each other and their Alpine environment.
“I was born very close to the French Alps, so I have always been familiar with marmots,” Dr. Cohas told Earthwatch. “When you enjoy hiking and being in the mountains, they become like your best friends. Later on, I studied biology, and I knew that I wanted to work with animals and study their behavior. I found that marmots are an amazing species to work with. They are social animals, meaning that they interact with individuals of the same species in a cooperative way. Marmots offer unique opportunities to answer intriguing and highly debated questions, such as why sociality evolved.”
What do you like about field research?
“I usually have quite a big team. I really enjoy being in the field because the best way to share with people is to make them part of your work,” says Dr. Cohas. “Once people start to get involved, they really want to know more. They want to make progress in the project and put their own stamp on it, and I think this is good. You cannot keep science for the scientists only.”