|Tuesday, April 11th|
Lauren Benedict, Whitman College
9:00 AM - 9:15 AM
As global and regional climates warm, heat-sensitive species might shift certain behaviors to cooler times of day. The American pika is a small, alpine mammal that sheds heat by finding cool microclimates within its rocky, mountainous habitat. Already flagged as a sentinel species for climate change, pikas might also be a good model for studying temporal shifts in behavior as a response to increased heat stress. My presentation focuses on observations conducted at two sites in the Colorado Front Range during July-August 2016. I found that pika behavior was the same at dawn and dusk, even though both sites are significantly cooler at dawn. This data is consistent with previous midday behavioral observations and suggests a consistency in pika surface activity from dawn through dusk.
Hannah Alverson, Whitman College
9:15 AM - 9:30 AM
Climate change is more pronounced in the Ecuadorean Andes than anywhere else in the world. Amphibians are particularly susceptible to climate change due to their inability to cross human barriers and because they can only tolerate a narrow window of ambient temperature. As part of the study abroad program SIT Ecuador: Comparative Ecology and Conservation, I surveyed frog populations in the cloud forest around a private nature reserve, Bosque Protector Cerro Candelaria, in central Ecuador. The primary goal of my research was to determine current frog population and diversity in order to compare the data to results from similar studies performed in April 2014 and April 2015. The results of this investigation, which I share in my presentation, suggest that frog population and species diversity have increased in the study sites.
Eva Geisse, Whitman College
9:30 AM - 9:45 AM
Once considered the most secure species of crane on the African continent, the grey crowned crane is now experiencing a rapid decline. Grey crowned cranes rely entirely for survival on wetlands, a habitat that is increasingly threatened across East Africa. Grey crowned cranes are considered an indicator species, whose presence reflects the health of an ecosystem. The greatest concentration of grey crowned cranes in East Africa is found in northern Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater. The goals of this study were to learn the distribution, abundance and density of grey crowned cranes within Ngorongoro Crater during the rainy season as well as investigate correlations between habitat characteristics and crane presence. Results will contribute vital information to the ongoing management of the population of grey crowned cranes in Tanzania and the rest of East Africa.
Mitchell Cutter, Whitman College
9:45 AM - 10:00 AM
How does a single cell develop through a series of cell divisions into a multicellular organism, complete with nervous, reproductive and digestive systems? Many of the steps along this developmental journey have been elucidated, but one of the hardest to study is organogenesis, the formation of organs. We are using the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans to study the control of gonad development. We have characterized four cell cycle genes; cdk-1, plk-1, bub-1 and wee-1.3 that are required for different stages of gonad development. We are working to connect these genes to other members of their pathways and to fully understand their individual roles in gonad development. Our work is the beginning of our journey to understand gonad development in C. elegans and organogenesis in general. We will present our latest understanding of the complex process leading to the successful development of the C. elegans gonad.
Zoey Kapusinski, Whitman College
10:00 AM - 10:15 AM
As human development encroaches on East Africa’s natural lands, conflict between wild animals and humans increases. This conflict severely reduces the quality of life for both populations. Specifically, human-elephant conflict poses a serious threat to subsistence farmers and migrating elephants in northern Tanzania. My presentation investigates the potential effectiveness of beehive fencing in reducing human-elephant conflict. Through interviews with villagers near Ngorongoro Conservation Area, I found that nearly two-thirds of respondents are willing to try beehive fences despite concerns about lack of efficacy and potential harm from bee stings to children and livestock. To assess the effectiveness of beehive fencing in this region, I recorded elephant-inflicted damage on trees within Manyara Ranch. I observed that sites with beehives had less tree damage than sites without beehives, lending legitimacy to beehive fences as a mitigation method.