Undergraduate Research in Biological Sciences
Undergraduates Elizabeth Rono and Twyla Gross, from Dr. Matthew Smith's lab, are starting the second generation of a Leopard gecko project examining the potential effects of global climate change on a species with temperature-sex determination (TSD). The last juvenile of the first year of breeding hatched out August and Elizabeth presented the first year of egg data at the NDSU EXPLORE conference in April.
Restoration of Cassel Woods
Cassel Woods is a 14.4 acres parcel of wooded land in the Oakport area of Moorhead MN. It was donated to the Biological Sciences Department by Dr. Frank Cassel in 1996. This natural area has been used on and off for faculty and graduate research projects but had become over-run by invasive Buckthorn trees. In 2016, the Department and Audubon Dakota formed a collaboration to restore Cassel Woods back to the Oak woodland it used to be. Dr. Matthew Smith worked with the Alumni Foundation and Audubon Dakota to enroll Cassel Woods in the Urban Woods and Prairie Initiative headed by Audubon Dakota (https://dakota.audubon.org/conservation/urban-woods-and-prairies-initiative ). After several years of collecting ‘pre’-restoration data, the active removal of Buckthorn and restoration of Cassel Woods began in the winter of 2018. Audubon Dakota and students from Dr. Smith’s sophomore research course (BIOL 271), cut and burned the invasive tree in the first 4-acre plot. Students in BIOL 271 have been using Cassel Woods since the Fall of 2016 as the field site for a course in which they design and conduct their own authentic research project. Students work in Cassel Woods not only collecting data but also helping to restore the woods. Restoration will continue over the next few years as students continue to work on field projects.
Greives Lab Research
The Greives lab’s research increases understanding of how animals respond to both environmental and internal cues that influence changes in their physiology and behavior to promote reproductive success. This previous spring Michelle Eshleman (MS student) and Esther Morales-Vega (PhD student) completed a successful field season investigating the relationship between migration distance, physiological measures, and reproductive fitness of red-winged blackbirds in collaboration with the USDA. Holland Galante (PhD student) completed her first field season investigating reproductive hormone levels, daily behavioral rhythms, and reproductive success of great tits in Seewiesen, Germany as part of an NSF funded project in collaboration with colleagues at the Max Planck Institute of Ornithology. Lab members presented their work at many conferences including those hosted by the American Ornithological Society, Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, and the National Sunflower Association. In our local community, our lab provided demonstrations to Minnesota State University Moorhead students on how to mist net, safely handle, band, and take measurements from songbirds at Buffalo River State Park. Lab members are also involved with volunteering for the Bring a Scientist to School program in which they share their research with local fifth grade students.