Wildlife Science Seminar: Winter 2017 Schedule

This winter, Professor Laura Prugh is leading the long-running Wildlife Science Seminar, and she has lined up a fantastic slate of speakers. Subjects range from the Florida panther to golden eagles to the effects of fungal diseases on wildlife communities, so take a look at the schedule below and join us for as many talks as you can!

Wildlife Science SeminarThe talks are held on Mondays from 3:30 to 4:50 p.m. in Smith Hall 120, and the public is always welcome. (Undergraduate students may register for credit under ESRM 455; graduate students under SEFS 554. welcome.)

Week 1: January 9
“Wildlife conservation in Washington’s Cascades: a paradigm shift in the role of national parks”
Dr. Jason Ransom, National Park Service, North Cascades National Park

Week 2: January 16
No seminar

Week 3: January 23
“Spatial ecology of coyotes and cougars: Understanding the influence of multiple prey on the spatial interactions of two predators”
Dr. Peter Mahoney, Postdoctoral Research Associate, SEFS

Week 4: January 30
“Genetic introgression as a conservation strategy: past, present and future of the Florida panther”
Dr. Madelon Van de Kerk, Postdoctoral Research Associate, SEFS

Week 5: February 6
“Breeding ecology of golden eagles in western Washington”
Leif Hansen, Graduate Student, Wildlife Science Group, SEFS

Week 6: February 13
“Is the sky falling or is there an elephant in the room? Perspectives on how fungal diseases influence communities and population dynamics”
Dr. Tara Chestnut, National Park Service, Mt. Rainier National Park

Week 7: February 20
No seminar

Week 8: February 27
“American crow vocal behavior”
Loma Pendergraft, Graduate Student, Wildlife Science Group, SEFS

Week 9: March 6
“Megaherbivory, trophic control, and plant defensive landscapes in a savanna ecosystem”
Professor Jacob Goheen, University of Wyoming

Notes from the Field: Alaska’s Wrangell Mountains

From September 16 to 22, Professor Laura Prugh and her new postdoc, Madelon Van de Kerk, headed to the field in Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. They were deploying remote cameras and snow stakes to monitor snow conditions as part of Laura’s NASA ABoVE project involving Dall sheep.

Laura feeling the chill of late September in , the largest national park in the United States.

The largest national park in the country, Wrangell-St. Elias features terrain that ranges from sea level up to more than 18,000 feet.

A major goal of this study is to determine how snow conditions affect Dall sheep movement and survival rates. So they put up 22 snow-monitoring stations in an area of the park where their agency collaborators will be putting GPS collars on sheep later this fall. Each monitoring station consists of a camera mounted on a t-post that will take a photo of a snow stake every hour all winter. Their ground-based snow monitoring will be used to improve a model of snow conditions based on satellite remote sensing and meteorological data. Then, combining this model with the GPS location data from collared sheep will allow the researchers to determine—for the first time—how snow conditions like depth and hardness affect Dall sheep movements.

Joining Laura and Madelon for the fieldwork were her co-PI at Oregon State University, Professor Anne Nolin, and Anne’s doctoral student, Chris Cosgrove. The four of them flew to the Wrangells in a small plane—a Piper Super Cub—to reach their little cabin, well above the tree line on a large, alpine mesa. They then set up the snow-monitoring stations along elevational transects, which Laura says was extremely challenging work due to steep and rocky terrain. Their packs were also quite heavy and awkward, weighing more than 40 pounds, as they had to pack around the steel t-posts, PVC snow stakes, cameras and two 16-pound post drivers.

“We all had pretty sore muscles,” says Laura, “but it was worth it! The scenery was breathtaking, weather was great, and we saw lots of sheep, pikas, ptarmigan and some arctic ground squirrels.”

Take a look at a gallery of photos from their trip, and also a great little video of Laura explaining the project while on site last month!

Photos and video © Laura Prugh.

The Wrangells team (left to right): Madelon Van de Kerk, Chris Cosgrove, Anne Nolin and Laura Prugh.

The Wrangells team (left to right): Madelon Van de Kerk, Chris Cosgrove, Anne Nolin and Laura Prugh.