Update on The Millersville University Pheasant Project

We are down to 3 birds.  One bird suffered a mammalian predation event, another bird slipped its collar and another bird is currently missing in action.  We will begin an intensive search for this bird soon.  The other 3 birds are doing well and loving the nice cover at Lancaster Central Park’s City View Road (see below).  The Millersville Field Ecology Students are doing a great job tracking the birds thanks in large part to the efforts of Environmental Biology student Anthony Kessler, who is leading and organizing this effort.  The birds are really starting to use more of the park (locations of the birds are shown below as red dots).

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Trapping Techniques

On Wednesday September 21st, The Ecology Field Methods Class got to practice how to set foot hold traps for live capture of carnivores.  Ralph Wagner, District Supervisor for the Pennsylvania Trappers Association, guided students on the set-up of these traps.









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Snorkeling with the Field Ecology Class

During the first lab of the Field Ecology Class, we went to Climber’s Run Preserve owned by the Lancaster County Conservancy.  Students snorkeled the Climber’s Run creek to conduct a count on aquatic vertebrates.  They then surveyed for aquatic invertebrates using kick nets.  Lastly, students conducted water quality tests.  Results were brought back to the lab for statistical analysis.

Click here for video

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Conservation Biology Official Findings & Government Report

The mission of the United States wildlife refuge system is the conservation, management and where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of future generations of Americans.  In compliance with the goals of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Refuge System, college students from the Chincoteague Bay Field Station (www.cbfieldstation.org) Conservation Biology Class with Millersville University, set out to quantify and document terrestrial vertebrate biodiversity (i.e., mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles) in 3 different forest biological communities (i.e., maritime deciduous, conifer and marsh forests) within Wallops Island NWR along the Eastern Shore of Virginia in Accomack County.  This was part of a service learning effort coupled with a research based course format to increase student professional development and passion for STEM studies in the biological sciences.

Documentation of terrestrial vertebrate biodiversity on Wallop’s Island NWR was conducted via a Rapid Biological Assessment (RBA) or Rapid Assessment Program, which is an efficient and cost-effective method used to complete a quick, biological survey of an area.  The RBA was conducted from 29 June 2015 through 8 July 2015.  Species presence was documented based on simple field observations as well as several trapping methods, including an acoustic recording device, remote video and cameras, pitfall traps and Sherman traps. Each method was specialized for documenting occurrence for specific types of terrestrial vertebrate fauna. The Conservation Biology Class’s first objective was to develop a list of terrestrial vertebrate species present on Wallops Island NWR and the second objective was to compare species survey results between the maritime deciduous, conifer and marsh forest types to determine if there was segregation between species in each forest community.

The Conservation Biology Class documented the presence of 90 terrestrial vertebrate species within Wallops Island NWR and they found 3 new species that had not yet been documented on Wallops Island NWR: short-tailed shrew (Blarina brevicauda), woodland vole (Microtus pinetorum) and American toad (Anaxyrus americanus).  The Conservation Biology class also identified the importance of maintaining and managing the maritime deciduous forest habitat to benefit biodiversity on the Wallops Island NWR and provided baseline population density estimates for small vertebrate species that occur on the refuge.  The Conservation Biology class recommended that further analysis be done to consider any species that could have been missed during their survey period.  For example, seasonal biological assessments should be conducted to observe areas used at the beginning of the breeding season and during migration.

An official government report of this service learning/research-based effort was sent to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  A copy of this report can be found on the link below.

Final Report to USFWS From CBFS & Millersville University

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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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