Data collection protocols and metadata

This project is one of the world’s longest studies of free-living animals. Ken Armitage ( started the study in 1962 and Dan Blumstein ( is now responsible for its daily management and oversight. General data collection methods include regularly trapping, handling and observing these animals. We also collect blood, fecal and hair samples from these animals for genetic and hormone analyzes in the lab. In addition, we collect data from detailed experiments depending on our current research goals, each of which has its own set of specific protocols.

Overview: All data are freely available to the public.

Educational users: We are very keen to work with people developing educational modules and other uses of these data.

Academic users: Data have been collected through the collaborative efforts of many and while we widely advertise our meta-data, we request that potential academic users of the data contact us to talk about collaborative projects. We maintain a policy of freely sharing data with potential collaborators. Metadata are publicly available within a year of collection. Please note that because we are actively engaged in many collaborative and concurrent projects, data are shared on case by case basis so as not to conflict with planned or current projects. For inquiries and additional details, please contact Dan Blumstein (

Data are archived as Excel files and in Base database (Base is the OpenOffice database which is compatible with Microsoft Access) that is stored on a Macintosh computer in Blumstein’s UCLA lab (and backed up on drives stored in different locations); copies are periodically sent to the RMBL for archival storage. The RMBL has developed, over the past decade, a data repository. The core data set consists of demographic, behavioral, and genetic data collected on individuals. Demographic and behavioral data are proofed and entered into our database the fall after collection. Genetic samples are extracted annually, which allows us to update measures of reproductive success. Plasma and red blood cells are stored in a -80°C freezer with an alarm and daily monitoring. Blood smears are scored for parasites and neutrophil:lymphocyte ratios calculated upon return from the field. Steroid hormones are extracted from frozen fecal samples upon return from the field.

Click below for a detailed pdf document explaining our:
Data collection protocols and metadata

Metadata for tables and fields in marmot database along with samples (updated May 2015)