Applied Conservation Lab
Radio-Tracking Ring-necked Pheasants (Undergraduate Researchers Anthony Kessler and Amanda Isabella)
Research allows students to apply traditional course content into applied problem solving. The implementation of research projects as a teaching model for STEM courses may increase student retention in STEM academic programs. We propose to teach a model STEM course structured around a field research project involving radio tracking of ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus). Ring-necked pheasants, have been an important economic game bird species since their introduction to the United States from Asia. They have also been used to help determine conservation reserve success in agricultural areas, such as Lancaster County Pennsylvania. Six ring-necked pheasants were released at Safe Harbor Nature Preserve in Safe Harbor, Pennsylvania and subsequently tracked for one month using VHF radio-telemetry. Tentative home range size and mortality rates of the pheasants will be analyzed to determine the feasibility of using the tracking of ring-necked pheasants as a teaching tool for undergraduate students. Results are still being collected from the field.
Identification of Research Needs for Wildlife Law Enforcement (Undergraduate Researcher Folake Meshe)
Wildlife law enforcement has been a tool used to conserve and protect species threatened by negative anthropogenic effects since the early 1200’s in England, and continues to be implemented in a number of different societies today. Wildlife law enforcement is just as important as biological research and management when speaking of wildlife preservation, but is not treated as such in the research community. A survey pinpointing areas of needed wildlife research was sent out to various wildlife law enforcement agencies in the United States. Identifying the research needs of wildlife law enforcement officers will help us better understand how to enforce rules and improve laws to apprehend and detain wildlife violators. Survey results are currently being compiled and analyzed. It was hypothesized that the survey results will express a huge need in research for multiple, if not every, wildlife agency contacted. Information revealed from the survey results will be used to promote wildlife law enforcement research needs.
Soil Testing To Identify Illegal Bait Sites for Wildlife (Undergraduate Researchers Angela Fetterolf, Meta Griffin and Tristan Conrad)
Supplemental feeding and baiting of wildlife has the potential to increase the spread of diseases such as Chronic Wasting Disease. Also, the baiting of wildlife for harvest is illegal in many areas. The objective of this study was to determine if commercial wildlife baits leave a chemical signature in the soil which is detectable through chemical analysis. This information could be used by wildlife officers to determine if an area was illegally baited. Commercial wildlife baits were applied to experimental soil patches and compared to non-baited soil patches. The commercial baits that were used in this experiment included ‘3 Day Harvest’ by C’Mere Deer®, ‘Acorn Rage JUICED’ by Wildgame Innovations, and ‘Deer Cane’ mix by Evolved Habitats Wildlife Nutritional Products®. It was hypothesized that baited areas would exhibit higher concentrations of calcium, sodium, and chloride compared to non-baited soil. Atomic absorption spectroscopy was used to measure the amount of sodium and calcium ions and a chloride probe was used to measure chloride ions. Results of this experiment show that for both ‘Deer Cane’ and ‘Acorn Rage JUICED’ the presence of both Sodium and Chloride ions were adequate indicators of baiting activity. However, further studies are needed to find less expensive ways of testing for these chemical ions so that wildlife officers can easily determine if a site has been baited illegally.