Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024
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Understanding Why Animals are Endangered – the Importance of Collaborative Research

“I can’t stress enough the importance of collaborative research across boundaries to conduct novel research.”

Having your name listed as an author on an article in an international science journal is an outstanding accomplishment for a faculty member. Getting your name listed as an author on an article in “Conversation Science and Practice,” a journal of the Society for Conservation Biology as an undergraduate student is, well, amazing. But that’s just what three Millersville University students did.

Dr. Aaron Haines, biology professor at Millersville, is also one of the authors and worked with Delaney Costante, Alexander Sandercock and Kayli Thomas on “Temporal analysis of threats causing species endangerment in the United States.”

“This was a true team effort between Millersville University and the College of William & Mary,” explained Haines. “I met Dr. Matthias Leu when we were both in Idaho and we’ve been working together on projects since then. I can’t stress enough the importance of collaborative research across boundaries to conduct novel research.  Such efforts can help improve government policy, be it nationwide and/or global efforts.”

The paper discusses the threats to 1,549 species on the United States Endangered Species list from 1975 to 2017.

“The number one threat we found was habitat loss and habitat modification,” says Haines. “Another common threat is climate change; meaning rising sea levels, more severe storms, increased drought events, etc. Top that with interaction with exotic and invasive species and you have problems.”

It can take years to do the research for a scientific paper, write it and get it published. In fact, all three student-authors have graduated from Millersville and are pursuing research in jobs and/or advanced degrees. Costante is continuing her research on endangered species that she started as an undergraduate at Millersville, with Dr. Leu at William & Mary.

“It’s amazing the depth of research that undergraduate students are doing at Millersville,” says Haines. “Our students are providing advice on nationwide policy – based on research. Not too many projects lend themselves to this kind of guidance.”

There was some good news that the researchers found. Due to the Clean Water Act, the threats from pollution went down for endangered species. In addition, poaching also went down as a threat.

“It would be best if we could have reconciliation ecology, where wildlife and people work together for the betterment of both,” says Haines. “Right now we are sending species to the E.R., rather than having preventative medicine to keep species common. We need to take care of the wildlife so they don’t have to be put on the Endangered Species list or risk extinction.”

“There’s a long lead time to apply for grants, receive them and start the research. We definitely have a need for additional funding to assist research at Millersville. We have three current students who are continuing research on endangered species; Emily Ritter, Lauren Bleyer and Michella Salvitti,” says Haines. Grace Smoot, who had also been helping, graduated in May.

To help students like Delaney, Alex, Kayli, Emily, Lauren, Michella and Grace, the Imagine the Possible campaign is raising money – all for students – scholarships, student learning experiences and Marauder athletics.


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