Week 3 At The CBFS

The Conservation Biology Class finally finished this week at the Chincoteague Bay Field Station.  Students finished the analysis of their vertebrate survey of Wallops Island National Wildlife.  We are currently putting the final touches to the official report we will submit to the US Fish & Wildlife Service.  In addition, students took a trip to the Nature Conservancy to get an up and close look at the Nature Conservancy’s eel grass beds and bay scallop restoration efforts.  Students also conducted a bird survey of the Chincoteague Bay and took a visit to the Wallops Island beach owned by NASA.

Check out the video links below of the Conservation Biology class in the field.

Atlantic Bay Scallop in Action

A Family of Clapper Rails


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Week 2 at the Chincoteague Bay Field Station (CBFS)

During week 2 at the CBFS, the Conservation Biology Class finished checking their traps and recording data for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.  In addition, students conducted a trawling survey for marine biodiversity at the Chincoteague Bay and met with the Nature Conservancy to discuss ecosystem restoration efforts along the Eastern Shore.  We will finish up next week with a number of other great activities.

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Millersville undergraduate biology students attend 46th Annual Meeting of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Biologists

On Friday and Saturday April 10th-11th , 2015, Millersville Biology Faculty Drs. Ryan Wagner, Sharmin Masswood and Aaron Haines were accompanied by Millersville undergraduate biology students to attend the 46th Annual Meeting of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Biologists at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.  The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania University Biologists (CPUB) was founded in 1973 as an organization to provide support for the teaching and research activities of faculty in the biological sciences. Every year CPUB provides a forum for graduate and undergraduate students for the presentation of their research.  This year, 10 biology students and 1 Earth Science student from Millersville University attended the Annual CPUB meeting to present their research findings.  In addition, Dr. Ryan Wagner presided over the Conference as he has done during the last 4 years as President of CPUB.  Below is a picture of all Millersville University Faculty that attended and the Undergraduate Research Presenters.

In back from left to right: Dr. Sharmin Masswood, Andrew Lytle, Charissa Mohn, Jennifer Spangler, Amanda Isabella, Angela Fetterolf, Lori Sampsell, Folake Meshe, Joel Hassel, Brendan Cowhey, Dr. Aaron Haines and Hilary Powell.  In Front: Amanda Kato (consumed by Tyrannosaurus Rex) and Dr. Ryan Wagner.

In addition, we had a number of award winners from Millersville University.  Below are Millersville Biology Students who won awards for their Undergraduate Research Projects.

 From Left to Right: Joel Hassell (First Place Poster Presentation for Cell and Molecular session), Jennifer Spengler (First Place Poster Presentation and CPUB outstanding student), Hilary Powell (Second Place Platform Presentation for Cell and Molecular Session), Amanda Kato (Second Place Poster Presentation for Ecology and Evolution Session) and Lori Sampsell (First Place Poster Presentation for Ecology and Evolution Session).

Below is a list of all the students who attended the 46th Annual CPUB Meeting and the titles of the research projects which they presented.

1)      Joel Hassell: Cognitive behavior after Tropisetron treatment in estrogen -primed Female Rats (Faculty Advisor, Dr. Sharmin Masswood) .

2)      Jennifer Spengler: Characterization of two waves of neural crest migration in the Red-Eared Slider Trachemys scripta (Faculty Advisor, Dr. Judy Cebra-Thomas).

3)      Angela Fetterolf: Identification of areas baited for wildlife using chemical analysis (Faculty Advisors, Dr. Aaron Haines and Stephen Kennedy).

4)      Hilary Powell: Investigating Polyphenol Oxidase activity in senescing woody plant species (Faculty Advisor, Dr. Ryan Wagner).

5)      Charissa Mohn: Impacts of Ailanthus altissima leaf pack leachate on Radish (Raphanus sativus) and Wheat (Triticum aestivum) seed germination and seedling growth (Faculty Advisor, Dr. Ryan Wagner).

6)      Bredan Cowhey: Characterizing the venom of ratfish (Faculty Advisors, Dr. James Cosentino and Dr. Dominique Didier).

7)      Andrew Lytle: Evolutionary conserved mechanism of epidermal appendage formation in tooth-like dermal structures of skates (Faculty Advisors, Dr. Judy Cebra-Thomas and Dr. Dominique Didier).

8)      Amanda Kato: Behavioral Analysis of Spodoptera frugiperda in relation to Volatile Chemicals of Ailanthus altissima (Faculty Advisor, Dr. Ryan Wagner).

9)      Amanda Isabella: Radio-telemetry tracking of Phasianus colchicus at Safe Harbor Nature Preserve, Safe Harbor, Pennsylvania: A pilot educational study (Faculty Advisor, Dr. Aaron Haines).

10)  Folake Meshe: Identification of research needs for wildlife law enforcement (Faculty Advisor, Dr. Aaron Haines).

11)  Lori Sampsell:  Reducing anxiety related symptoms in domesticated cats (Faculty Advisor, Dr. Jean Boal).

Next year, Millersville University will be host to the 47th CPUB Annual Meeting.

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Pheasant Tracking Conclusion

We released 6 birds last week. After a week of radio-telemetry, all birds fell victim to birds of prey, most likely hawks and owls based on the remains.  Below is a map showing all the locations.  One bird stayed within 50 yards of the release site for 5 days until predation, and another bird traveled almost a mile away and went all over the preserve for 7 days until predation.  The birds really preferred the edge habitat.  They did not venture very far into the woods and preferred to travel along the thicket cover of the woody edge habitat or along trails in the woods.  Overall, the Millersville University Pheasant Tracking Team, led by Amanda Isabella, did a great job collecting data from these birds and getting the transmitters back.  We may have to restart this effort again in the near future.

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Beginning of Millersville University Pheasant Tracking Project

This is a pilot project where undergraduate students learn ecological principles and field techniques by conducting applied research. Students are responsible for tracking released pheasants at a local wildlife preserve, gathering data on these birds and then analyzing this data. The goal is to determine if applied learning can be conducted as a research project to benefit student success in the STEM fields.  Click below for video.

Millersville Pheasant Project

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Ornithology Trip to Middlecreek Wildlife Management Area

On Saturday Match 7th,  Millersville University Ornithology students took a trip to the Middlecreek Wildlife Management Area run by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.  The visitor center had a great collection of bird mounts to peruse and the outside bird feeder had a large number of visitors.  In addition, students got a great look at a rough-legged hawk (photo below by Kira Klassen), a rare winter visitor that breeds in the tundra.

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