Flying with the Hawks

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Dr. Aaron Haines

If you’re dreaming of spending a part of the summer on a beautiful mountain with trees, flowers, shrubs and lots of birds, you may want to speak to Dr. Aaron Haines. Haines is working on a service learning project on Hawk Mountain that involves calling, finding and counting broad-winged hawks. And, he could use some help.

“I’m looking for volunteers who would like to conduct research that will benefit the local community,” said Haines. “The broad-winged hawks come to Pennsylvania from South and Central America for one purpose, to mate. Hawk Mountain wants to find their nests and log the GPS coordinates. They also want to monitor the birds and what they eat and would eventually like to put transmitters on them to track their movements.”

Haines, who started in the biology department at Millersville in summer 2012, is no stranger to research. He opened the Millersville Applied Conservation Lab in 116 Caputo Hall, where he has been overseeing a soil research project that looks at whether soil has been baited for wildlife illegally.

“The purpose of the lab is to find applied solutions to conservation problems,” said Haines. “For example, the use of bait can be seen as an unfair advantage that can potentially narrow the distinction between game animal and domestic animal, which jeopardizes public trust protection given to game animals. While the use of bait to hunt wildlife is illegal in many states such as Pennsylvania, commercial baits to attract white-tailed deer are readily available to consumers at common retail sporting goods stores.”

Millersville students Meta Griffin (who graduated on May 10) and Tristan Conrad have been conducting a research project to help Pennsylvania conservation officers ID bait sites in the field. Many commercial baits contain distinct ingredients including sugars, proteins, chloride, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, etc. The objective of their research is to conduct soil tests on areas where commercial baits had been placed in comparison to non-baited sites to determine if chemical signatures are left by commercial baits.

Their research was presented at the recent Made in Millersville: A Celebration of Student Scholarship and Creativity. The Applied Conservation Lab is also involved in other research projects. To see details on these projects, visit the Lab’s webpage at http://www.millersville.edu/academics/scma/biology/Applied%20Conservation%20Lab/Home%20Page.php.

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