Ecology and Conservation Biology Senior Thesis Provides Networking Opportunities
ECB undergraduates contribute to conservation and management of threatened and endangered speciesTHE PROJECT
The senior thesis, or project, is a hallmark of the ECB program that takes students on a journey of independent inquiry and hands-on learning. As one example, Tatiana Gettleman is working with CNR faculty member Kerri Vierling to study Lewis’s woodpeckers.
Lewis’s woodpeckers are designated by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game as a species of greatest conservation need and are also a species of concern for other state and federal agencies.
Gettelman’s project examines ways to better conserve and manage the species including examing:
- nest site selection
- factors affecting reproductive success
For many woodpecker species, there is a lack of specific information on habitat requirements and reproduction in burned environments. The Lewis's woodpecker is an aerial insectivore that prefers open, burned forest or riparian habitat. It is a poor excavator and often uses preexisiting cavities for its nests.
Gettelman's and Vierling’s research will provide managers with information to
- rely on woodpeckers as a keystone species – one whose presence is a positive influence on forest diversity
- evaluate how different forest management practices relating to fire and logging might affect Lewis’s woodpeckers and other woodpecker species
- maintain the right kind of habitat for different species
ECB senior theses or projects are designed to give students a better grasp of scientific principles and methods, make the ECB degree more appealing to potential employers, and prepare students for graduate school if desired.
There are several ways to choose a senior thesis topic that interests and excites you:
- Your coursework may expose you to topics that you might like to explore further.
- The professor that has piqued your interest may be a good candidate to be your mentor and may be able to suggest an investigation that can be done in the available time.
- Browse the online list of ECB faculty.
- Become part of a team of faculty and graduate students by engaging in larger research projects already in progress
David Roon, ECB director, Kerri Vierling, associate professor, other University of Idaho faculty, agencies, CNR graduate students