Four Penn State DuBois undergraduates present wildlife research

March 25, 2005

Four Penn State DuBois undergraduate students recently presented their research projects at the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Wildlife Society annual meeting.

"We're very proud of these students," said Keely Roen, instructor in wildlife technology. "They not only prepared significant materials in their research, they handled themselves very professionally in making the presentation as well. This is a very big accomplishment for undergraduate students and they did a fine job."

Nearly 100 participated at the 2005 annual conference of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Wildlife Society held March 18 and 19 in State College. More than a dozen technical papers were presented on the afternoon of the full-day session covering a variety of topics in natural resources and wildlife management.

In the first of the two DuBois presentations, Roen worked with students Brian Dicks of Harbor Creek and Josh Day of DuBois, both majoring in wildlife technology at the campus. Their work was on the shorthead garter snake, one of three species of garter snake found in Pennsylvania.

"The shorthead garter snake has a very limited distribution covering only northwestern Pennsylvania and a small portion of southern New York," said Dicks. "We located populations of shorthead garter snakes at two sites in the DuBois area. Students participated in both locating and capturing of the snakes."

"Our study focused on the capture and recording of individual data," said Day. "Length, weight, sex, location, eye diameter to frontal scale ratio and any abnormalities or injuries are recorded. Any snake greater than 10 inches also receives a passive integrated transponder (PIT) before release."

The students said they are planning to generate population estimates for both areas where snakes were found with the data they have collected.

The second DuBois presentation was on Project Owlnet, an effort to gain greater understanding of the migration of northern saw-whet owls, the birds recognized for their appearance on one of Pennsylvania's popular conservation license plates. Roen worked with two more students in the wildlife program on their presentation, Lee Lindemuth of Tidioute and Kelly Williams of Reynoldsville.

"Students at Penn State DuBois joined Project Owlnet in 2001 by establishing a banding station near Brockway," said Lindemuth. "Since that time, Project Owlnet has been an integral part of undergraduate coursework. In their first year, students are introduced to mist netting and banding, and receive Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee certification. In their second year, students are tested on Project Owlnet protocol and required to participate in a minimum of one night of banding."

"A majority of students also volunteer for additional nights," said Williams. "In four years, the banding station has processed 76 northern saw-whet owls, one barred owl and has tested marking methods on a colony of southern flying squirrels. This project has provided hands-on educational experience for students and has grown into a community outreach opportunity as well."

Additionally, the banding project works as a recruitment tool for the University by serving as a high point of interest for prospective students.

The four undergraduates weren't the only campus presenters at the conference. The keynote address at the banquet was given by Joseph Hummer of DuBois, an instructor in wildlife technology at the campus for more than 30 years. Hummer spoke about a long-term study he conducted on the copperbelly water snake in Indiana. Data from his research will be published in the upcoming issue of American Midland Naturalist. Two members on the state Chapter of the Wildlife Society board of directors got their start at the DuBois campus and were excited to see one of their favorite instructors again.

A portion of the costs for the students who were attending the conference were paid by the Penn State DuBois Undergraduate Professional Development fund. Proceeds of the fund are generated by contributions made by campus faculty and staff who wish to encourage undergraduate research and participation in such conferences and presentations.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009