Proof in the Pudding

Lars-the-guru: FIELD DIARY

    First analysis

Ginger Student returned to the institute in time for our Monday meeting but that gleam is still in her eye so I was curious as to what story the data would tell me…

The first thing I did was examine her transit pattern to distinguish between the different travel modes she’s known to utilise:

Speed relative to altitude (data returned by SMRU tag via ARGOS)

At first glance, it appeared that she briefly travelled at impossibly high speeds! For a moment, I was concerned the tag had failed – something we have to be viligant about – but the data makes perfect sense when examined relative to altitude. Clearly, Ginger Student was travelling by plane when she moved at speeds above 200 km/h. So, no ticket for driving too fast…

Now that we understand the high-speed data, let’s examine the slower speeds in more detail:

“zooming in” on the slow speeds

Where are they occurring?
Areas where Girl in Gumboots exhibited her slowest travelling rates – home, Edinburgh, London, Norwich and some place north of Norwich…

It makes sense that she travelled at her slowest speeds in St. Andrews because she would only have walked or driven between home and the department. Edinburgh also makes sense because of a delayed flight (British Airways records confirm this). That leaves London, Norwich, and some obscure patch of coastline north of Norwich.

Without more behavioural insight, I can only make inferences from the data returned by the tag but it’s pretty clear that she spent more than 85% (106.5hours) of her total time away at speeds below 0.5 km/h! I know for a fact that she’s not searching for a mate (because that would be in direct contravention of the very fine fineprint I added to her PhD contract) so she evidently spent most of her weekend foraging and/or sleeping. Talk about sloth-like beahviour!

If I do some rough math…
Girl in Gumboots’ trip spanned 5 nights (125 hours).
Assuming she spent 8 hours asleep each night, we’re left with 40 hours of shut-eye overall… which adds up to 32% of the total time.
Of the 125 hours: She spent 40 hours sleeping and 106.5-40=66.5 hours moving very slowly… 66.5 hours out of (125-40) makes about 78%…uuhh


  • Girl in Gumboots is definitively more sloth-like than seal-like, and considering she’s just signed up for the Paris-Versailles run I have reservations about her survival beyond September
  • She appears to forage for 78% of her time when awake
  • However, because her weight upon return to St. Andrews was not much higher than her pre-trip weight (checked visually), she’s clearly NOT a very successful forager…
  • Am I missing something?? That gleam in her eye really worries me so I’m going to check the data every now and then to see what she’s up to. I really can’t tell enough from just one weekend, but I have no doubt that my patience will pay off!


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