The Awesome Foundation is an international philanthropic organization devoted to forwarding the interest of awesomeness in the universe. Every month they award a no-strings-attached grant to a project that they deem Awesome. They’re interested in a wide variety of projects, ranging from friendly postcards sent to random strangers to light festivals to pop-up museums and all sorts of things. My project, Crafting enrichment for people and parrots, was selected for an Awesome Foundation grant.
I will be partnering with senior centers in the greater Seattle area to build parrot toys for local parrot rescues. The partnership is a win-win: senior toy builders improve their dexterity, practice creativity, and contribute to a community project; parrots receive toys essential to their mental stimulation and beak health.
In the wild, parrots are constantly using their strong beaks to hollow out cavities for nesting, crack open nuts, and chew branches. Many researchers equate their intelligence to that of a two year old child. Deprived of the physical and mental enrichment of the natural world, captive pet parrots rely on toys for mental stimulation and to maintain beak and nails. Parrots lacking this enrichment often turn to self-mutilation, feather plucking, and screaming, which can be too much for an owner to handle. During its 20-85 year lifespan, the average parrot will be rehomed five times. When a pet parrot is surrendered to a rescue, rescues must use limited resources to provide immediate housing, food, and veterinary needs. Therefore, rescues rely on donations for enrichment to provide the parrots the stimulation they need.
We will partner with senior centers in the Renton, WA region to assemble parrot toys for local rescues. Building parrot toys requires hand-eye coordination and creativity. Participants will select a parrot to “adopt” from a group of photos, names, and short biographies of each bird. They will choose from a variety of pre-drilled toy parts including mahogany pods, wood blocks, leather scraps, yucca slices, and more and thread them onto a stiff raffia cord. The completed toys will be delivered to the rescue. We will take a photo of each bird with their new toy and print it for the person who built the toy.
The goal of the Data Science Incubator is to enable new research discoveries by bringing together data scientists and domain scientists to work on focused, intensive, collaborative projects. I was selected for the winter 2020 cohort, where I will be working with Dr. Valentina Staneva to use machine learning to link accelerometer records to behaviors.
I am honored to have been awarded a grant from the 2019 Integral Environmental Big Data Research Fund. The grant will allow me access to cloud computing and other resources to combine the accelerometer and video camera collar data to better understand deer behavioral responses to recolonizing wolves. I will be using supervised machine learning (random forest) to predict deer behavior from acceleration features.
Thank you to the donors, Integral Consulting, to my advisor, Aaron Wirsing, and to all those involved with application review, department support, and other aspects of the award.
The Predator Ecology Lab is currently seeking Deer Behavior Interns!
Project background. In northeast Washington, mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) may be trading off food and safety due to increased risk of predation from naturally recolonizing gray wolves (Canis lupus). The Predator Ecology Lab is testing this hypothesis using giving up densities, vegetation exclosures, and animal-borne video collars. An example of a video clip is below.
Job duties. Volunteers will watch video clips from the deer collars to record vigilance, foraging, group size, habitat variables, and other key characteristics in an Excel spreadsheet. Interns may have the opportunity to assist with other related projects in the lab as time permits.
You will be contributing to a working research lab so we request that cell phones remain in your bags under most circumstances. We sometimes break from our video review to discuss science, careers, grad school, squid fishing, conservation policy, and other topics.
- Hands-on learning about trophic cascade theory and predator-prey dynamics.
- Work space in a working research lab, working side-by-side with university researchers.
- Learning about sources of error and uncertainty, how to minimize them, and how to communicate them.
- Working independently and as a team to complete tasks, solve problems, and meet deadlines.
- Access to resume and interview assistance, career mentoring, and other resources as requested.
- Communicating their experience through a blog post.
Time commitment. Position is based in Seattle, WA and requires twice weekly meetings at the University of Washington. Volunteers will work 4-8 hours per week, split into 2 on-site days at our lab in Winkenwerder Hall. Remote work may be possible if you have your own laptop and good work ethic. Exact start and end date is flexible and weekly schedule is flexible. While this opportunity is ideal for UW students, all are welcome to apply. The number of volunteers who will be selected will be based on availability and interest.
To apply, please email me with the following to apryle [ at ] uw dot edu
- Your preferred start/end dates
- Your preferred weekly schedule (minimum of two 2-hour time blocks each week)
- No need to attach a separate additional cover letter, feel free to introduce yourself in the email and let me know why you want to review deer videos.
Thank you for your interest!
This evening, Lauren Satterfield and I hosted a free workshop to School of Environmental and Forest Sciences undergraduates titled, “Foundations of GPS and Camera Use.” Participants got the chance to use GPS units to navigate the UW campus, and to deploy and check motion-activated trail cameras. Hopefully everyone learned a lot and is ready to take on these two field-work essentials in their first technician jobs!
The Predator Ecology Lab at the University of Washington is offering an NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program “Deer, Wolves, & Fire” during the 17/18 school year (Fall 2017 through Spring 2018). This position is a paid, undergraduate research opportunity spanning multiple quarters. The student will conduct an independent research project to increase our understanding of deer herbivory in the face of fire and wolf recolonization. The selected REU student will collect data as part of our field crew for 2.5 weeks in September and 2.5 weeks in late April in north central Washington, specific dates to be determined.
The student will utilize existing deer exclosures as part of a research study investigating the impacts of recolonizing wolves on deer herbivory in a fire-impacted landscape. We will be identifying plants and surveying plants inside and outside of deer fences. Technician may also have the opportunity to install trail cameras, review camera footage, and more. Please note: this is not a position that will be hands-on with wolves or deer. The goal is to measure the indirect effects of wolves on plants recovering from fire.
This work involves a lot of kneeling, bending, and crouching. Surveys require a high attention to detail during repetitive tasks. Technician should be comfortable working long days, hiking cross-country across uneven terrain for about 0.25 mile at any given time, and carrying large, awkward fencing supplies. We will be moving rolls of fencing and cutting wire. Plant identification is useful, but not required. Safety is a priority – your safety in the field is the number 1 priority.
Technician must provide their own transportation to the site near Republic, Washington. At that point, a shared vehicle will be used to access the survey sites. Technician is responsible for their own food. As mentioned, a field stipend is available.
Applicants must be available for both the fall and spring time period: 2.5 weeks in September and 2.5 weeks in late April in north central Washington, specific dates to be determined.
How to Apply
Email me with your resume, 2 references, and your availability from Sept 1st – Oct 10th, 2017 and general plans/availability for April-May 2018. Please describe your experience with identifying plants. Please indicate if you have CPR and/or First Aid training.
Applications due June 21, 2017. Decision made by June 28.
Just contributed to a post on our lab’s blog with tips for collecting, organizing, and analyzing trail camera photos. Check it out and email me or leave a comment with your own
How is it that deer and other herbivores like insects and rabbits don’t eat allllll of the plants on earth? As they eat plants, individuals become more fit to reproduce, allowing their populations to grow. Bigger deer populations could eat even more plants!
Hairston, Smith, and Slobodkin proposed that predators keep herbivore populations in
check. This is a top-down control. Predators can alter prey populations by impacting the prey population size and behavior. Prey such as deer or rabbits may shift habitat to escape from the risk of wolves.
However, plants themselves limit consumption by herbivores. Armed with physical structures like thorns and chemicals like tannins, plants defend against herbivore attack. These defenses suggest that bottom-up mechanisms limit the ability for herbivores to eat all of the plants.
So which is it? Why is the world green? In most ecosystems, both top-down and bottom-up forces combine to keep plants around for the long-haul.
This week, I am presenting a poster describing my research proposal at the joint meeting of the Washington chapter The Wildlife Society (TWS) and Society of American Foresters (SAF) in Yakima, WA. While living in Tonasket and surveying plants, I have spoken with many hunters who are concerned about decreases in hunter harvest as a result of wolf recolonization. Their concerns are real. Walking down main street in Republic or Tonasket in December hotels, you can hardly pass a shop, hotel, gas station, or restaurant that does not have a sign reading “Welcome Hunters!” Hunting is a huge part of Washington’s economy, generating more than $300 million annually and employing more than 5,500 people*. Decreases in hunting success may impact the small businesses that depend on this important revenue stream. The economic value of hunting is easy to calculate, but the cultural value of hunting can transcend any monetary number. You can’t put a price tag on the family tradition of spending time in the woods, generations of learning to read the animals, and the satisfaction of providing organic, free-range meat to sustain your family. I wanted to know – Are wolves impacting hunter success?
My long-term goal is to look at harvest statistics in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming but I wanted a proof-of-concept to get feedback from wildlife biologists at the meeting. So for my poster, I used a few game management units (GMUs) in Washington with wolves (red) and nearby GMUs without wolves (green) to start tackling this question. Stay tuned for my results!
*US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation
Join me in the forests of northeast Washington this spring to survey plants at deer exclosures as part of a research study investigating the impacts of recolonizing wolves on deer herbivory.
We will be surveying vegetation inside and outside of deer exclosures. Surveys include species composition, measuring heights, counting stems, and canopy cover. At each plot we will also perform a scat transect and update trail cameras to gauge wildlife use. This work involves a lot of kneeling, bending, and crouching. Surveys require a high attention to detail during repetitive tasks. If fences are broken, we will repair them using metal fencing and hand tools.
Technician should be comfortable working long days, hiking cross-country across uneven terrain for about 0.25 mile at any given time, and carrying large, awkward fencing supplies. We will be moving rolls of fencing and cutting wire. Plant identification is useful, but not required. Safety is a priority – your safety in the field is the number 1 priority.
Transportation & Lodging
Technician must provide their own transportation to the site near Nespelem, Washington. At that point, a shared vehicle will be used to access the survey sites. Basic, shared housing is provided with no potable water on-site (we will use bottled water and water jugs for cooking and dish washing). We will likely camp for 2 nights in a row to access some of the more remote field locations. Technician is responsible for their own food and camping gear (let me know if you’re lacking anything and I can look around and see if I can borrow equipment).
Flexible Dates between April 25-May 13
Time commitment is flexible from 2 days to 2 weeks. I am looking for volunteers for the general time frame and will build a schedule based on the response I get. Please let me know your availability between April 25-May 13.
How to Apply
Email me with your resume, 2 references, and your availability from April 25-May 13.
apryle …at… uw [dot]edu