Behind the Scenes: What Researchers Face in the Field

book cover of Into the Night by Rick Adams

Face-to-face encounters with mountain lions. Swimming through shark-infested waters. Evading stampeding elephants. In his latest book, UNC biologist Rick Adams sets out to tell the real-life experiences of researchers in the field.

Into the Night, a collection of essays edited by Adams, gives readers an unvarnished look into researchers' lives as they forge into remote areas to study nocturnal life.

"It is my hope that readers will gain insight into the world of field research being conducted by genuine biologists," Adams writes in the preface, "rather than the skewed portrayals sanitized and packaged for [television and movie] audiences."

Among the seven contributors are a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, a researcher featured in National Geographic and a public school teacher.

Here's an excerpt from the essay written by Adams, a foremost authority on bats who's also co-edited Bat Evolution, Ecology, and Conservation and authored Bats of the Rocky Mountain West:

We sit on the ground next to our bat net in silence, half asleep as the clock strikes midnight. We are an hour's hike from civilization and even though activity is low, we wait patiently. As I peer half alert into the darkness I notice a unique movement, a shadow really, that for some unknown reason signals my brain that something is amiss. I am in mid-thought, when with equal hesitation, Kate whispers, "What was that?" As I trigger my head torch, we are both astonished at our fate. A mere six feet away stands two mountain lions. We are literally face to face with the region's apex predator that reaches 150 lbs and is known to have a pouncing distance of 30 feet. At this moment we are indeed sitting prey. As the light from my torch hits them, they look momentarily confused, stretching out their necks as if trying to peer through a sudden and unexpected sun.

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