I've got a bit of a dilemma with my critters. You see, the ones I need to study hang out in places that are difficult to access as a human. In order to do what I want to do, I've got to catch or observe them at the very least. After visiting my field site, I've been stumped all summer about how I'm going to do this.
At ESA I talked briefly with a scientist who has the same accessibility problem in her research. As a result, she has learn to scuba dive (FYI- this is an analogy). She said that I should learn how to scuba dive too, and that there's a big scuba workshop happening at the end of September that I should attend where people can teach me how to scuba dive. Or, at the very least, I could meet 'freelance' scuba divers who I could potentially hire to work for me in Ukenzagapia.
Even if I learn how to scuba dive, there will still be logistical difficulties in actually catching critters. I won't be able to do it by myself, so I'll have to have at least one other scuba diver with me. Maybe I can lure some from the U.S. to Ukenzagapia as volunteers with the opportunity to scuba dive in a new, exotic location?
Also, it's expensive to learn how to scuba dive. The scuba course and conference will be $900, which doesn't include another $200-300 to get there. Eventually I'll have to buy my own scuba equipment to use in Ukenzagapia, and I have no idea how much that will cost. It's also potentially dangerous. And the Ukenzagapians would think I was totally, completely crazy. Will I be confident scuba diving in Ukenzagapia where the water is much deeper than most places around here?
On the other hand, this would be a relatively unique skill that would expand my research boundaries if I stay committed to it. Also, my fellowship provides a few thousand dollars for me each year for travel and research. I think I could use these funds to attend the workshop. It does sound like fun. But will it improve my research $2000 worth?
I'd be very interested in hearing if my readers have faced similar dilemmas about learning a specific technique for their research. Should I do it?