FWCB Students have tremendous showing at Annual Celebrate Undergraduate Research and Creativity Showcase

FWCB students made a big impact at the 2015 Celebrate Undergraduate Creativity and Research Showcase. Students participated in both the poster and oral presentations exhibitions and took home a number of the symposium's highest honors for their outstanding research. 

Celebrate Undergraduate Creativity and Research Symposium Awards
  •  Anna Quist received Highest Honors for her research poster, Bait preferences of captive bighorn sheep for distribution of  an oral vaccine
  •  Marina Rodriguez received first place in the Oral Presentation Exhibit for her presentation, The effect of calcium  supplementation on nesting tree swallows
  •  Alyssa Graziano received second place in the Oral Presentation Exhibit for her presentation, Why did the cuthroat   jump? Effects of fish density on greenback cuthroat trout jumping attempts
  •  Meredith Lewis received Highest Honors for her research poster, Evaluation of photographic identification of boreal  toads
  •  Samuel Peterson received College Honors for his research poster, How do we affect wildlife? An analysis of  human/wildlife interactions through recreation
  • Emily Beisch received College Honors for her research poster, Genetic analysis of the Poncha Pass population of Gunnison sage-grouse
  • Alexander Townsend received third place in the Oral Presentation Exhibit for his presentation, Reduced thermal tolerance in Colorado salmonid species after exposure to sub-lethal concentrations of copper


American Ornithologists' Union Elects Two FWCB Faculty

Drs. Kate Huyvaert and Liba Pejchar have both been elected as Elective Members of the American Ornithologists' Union (AOU).  "Election to this membership class is an honor bestowed in recognition of ..contributions to ornithology and to the AOU."

Dr. Huyvaert's research on avian ecology and evolution has taken her around the globe as well as several states including, Vietnam, Ecuador, Colorado, Nebraska and California.  Her research lab studies, "...questions about pathogens and parasite that affect host population of wild animals, especially birds."  

Dr. Pejchar's research includes work on seed dispersal by Hawaiian Frugivores, conservation development, impacts of energy development on biodiversity and ecosystem services, avian conservation biology on the Kauai island, bird and arthropod response to large-scale restoration, small mammal and avian responses to habitat manipulation for game species in a landscape dominated by energy development and sap-feeding behavior by Akiapolaau.

Congratulations to both these outstanding ornithologists for the exemplary work and election as Elective Members of the American Ornithologists' Union! 

Student Spotlight: Marina Rodriguez overcomes obstacles to pursue her passion for avian conservation

Colorado State University student Marina Rodriguez, wildlife biology ’15, embodies the perseverance it takes to overcome challenges and exemplifies the qualities for academic excellence that CSU encourages in its students.

Rodriguez came to Colorado in 2011 after researching wildlife biology programs from her bedroom in San Antonio, Texas. With a love for the outdoors and a passion for wildlife, CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources was a perfect fit. After taking an ornithology class her freshman year, Rodriguez discovered a deep passion for birds, which heavily influenced her research and career choices.

Most recently, Rodriguez has been conducting research on the effects that calcium supplements have in tree swallows found at CSU’s Mountain Campus. She has worked as a teaching assistant at Pingree Park for multiple summers and is currently working as a lab technician for the USDA National Wildlife Research Center.

Rodriguez has overcome adversity to be successful at CSU and will be the first member of her family to graduate from college. “As a first generation student, I am motivated to set an example for my younger siblings to show them that college can be a possibility even if it isn’t a priority in your family,” said Rodriguez.

Unfortunately, paying tuition became the biggest challenge for Rodriguez and after taking a semester off to work, she sought out scholarship opportunities. “Attending CSU wouldn’t have been possible without the financial aid and moral support I’ve received from the Warner College of Natural Resources,” said Rodriguez, the recipient of several scholarships, including the Riordan Family Scholarship and the Thomas A. Shepard Diversity scholarship. 

The moral support Rodriguez received from professors and peers at CSU was just as valuable as the financial support. “The support system in the Warner College is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Everyone is rooting for your success and it really makes a difference to know that people believe in you,” said Rodriguez.

While maintaining a high GPA, Rodriguez has played an active role in various organizations on campus.  She has been an active member of MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences) since her freshman year and served as vice president during the 2013-2014 school year. She has also been an active member of CSU’s chapter of The Wildlife Society (TWS). Furthermore, Rodriguez has played an integral part of establishing a new organization, SEEDS (Strategies for Ecology Education Diversity and Sustainability), to help provide undergraduates with resources and to encourage diversity in the ecology field.

“One of my most memorable experiences of my college career has been attending the Wildlife Society’s conclave in Idaho and being able to travel places I’ve never been before to see different kinds of wildlife,” said Rodriguez. “Just by being involved in these organizations, I’ve learned valuable networking and career building skills, gained hands-on experience in my field, participated in community service projects, and made life-long friendships.”

Following graduation Rodriguez plans on attending graduate school to continue her education in wildlife biology and to further pursue her passion for avian conservation. Her advice for future first generation and minority students is to follow your passions, even if the road looks impossible at first; there are always resources to help you and people to support you in all of your endeavors. 

What's that Sound? Scientists Tune in to National Park Audio Research

Elk, owls, coyotes, and snowmobiles all have been heard on Colorado State University campus lately. The sounds are coming from a listening laboratory where a research project between CSU and the National Park Service (NPS)  is analyzing acoustic data recordings to inform and improve management of national parks across the country.

“Sounds, or the lack of them, play a significant role in visitor experiences and wildlife behavior in parks,” said Cecilia White, a research associate for the project. “Acoustic research is a growing field in natural resources sciences and has a variety of important applications from conservation to tourism.”

CSU is collaborating with the NPS Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division (NSNSD) to study detailed park audio recordings that provide valuable clues to wildlife and human park activity and their interaction. The audio data is collected through recording systems that are installed by NSNSD in selected parks for about a month at a time. The systems record audio (as mp3 files) and sound pressure levels (in decibels) and are designed to replicate the experience of a person on the ground. 

NSNSD is part of the Natural Resource Stewardship & Science Directorate of the NPS and uses science, engineering, and technology to understand, restore, maintain, and protect acoustical environments and naturally dark skies throughout the National Park System. CSU researchers currently involved with the program are Ken Wilson, George Wittemyer, and Kevin Crooks with the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, and Lisa Angeloni with the Department of Biology. 

Engaging Students in Acoustic Science
In 2013, the CSU project team created a program to give students the opportunity to gain acoustic research experience.  The students are trained to distinguish different sounds and recognize how they appear on a spectrogram. Once they have tuned their senses, the students listen to recordings from the parks and identify the sounds they hear, such as animals, people, planes, or cars.  They use software designed by NPS to compile the percentage of time a sound was heard, the volume of the sound, and the frequency of the sound.
Coyotes and Owl
Coyote calls and owls
Sparring Elk
Sparring elk
“This research opportunity taught me the importance of natural soundscapes and how human noises can have a significant impact on environments,” says Samantha Bietsch, a CSU junior majoring in fish, wildlife, and conservation biology. “Now when I am outside, I can distinguish all kinds of noises and identify where they are coming from.  My favorite part of the job was getting to hear the birds wake up in the mornings and hearing the coyotes howl.”
The listening lab just hired seven new student researchers and has employed a total of 18 students since its inception.
The Sound of Success
Acoustic research findings have already been incorporated into management policies. In Yellowstone National Park, the NSNSD documented where, how often, and how loud noise would occur under different management scenarios. Incorporating these data into its winter-use plan allowed Yellowstone to provide recreation benefits to oversnow vehicle users while protecting other visitors and wildlife from noise.

NSNSD acoustical data are also being used by Grand Canyon National Park to help manage air tours and protect visitors and park resources from the effects of aircraft noise.

The Division also projected noise level increases from a proposed highway expansion near Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi. In Glacier National Park, the NSNSD is studying grassland birds and how they are impacted by traffic noise. 

For more information about the NSNSD, click here.

Posted on Oct. 28, 2014 by Taylor Jaquez