This week I was fortunate enough to be able to go to Glacier National Park. We stayed in an amazing house in the research community in West Glacier, just outside the park entrance. We took part of the National Park service’s citizen science program, which included phenology training, high country training, and a mushroom bio-blitz. During the phenology training we were taught how to identify huckleberry bushes, and their varying stages. We went hiking and surveyed huckleberry plants of the park and input the data into a newly developed app for the citizen science program. For the high country training, we learned about animals that live in alpine habitats such as pika, mountain goats, and big horn sheep. We traveled to East Glacier to monitor and collect data on these species. We had a day to do what we wanted, so we decided to take part in a re-vegetation program that involved planting whitebark pine seedlings in an area that was burned two years ago. The whitebark pines grow at high altitudes, so it was a very long and steep hike to the burn area. Despite the daunting hike, we were able to get some amazing views. During our final day in Glacier National Park, we took part in a mushroom bio-blitz, in which we searched for fungi with mycologists from Canada, in East Glacier. If you haven’t been to Glacier National Park, I strongly encourage you to plan a trip there because it is absolutely spectacular!
This week as we were out cray-fishing we received a call from our supervisor telling us a park ranger had found an injured robin. We quickly gathered some gloves, pair of cutters, and a cage and headed over to where the robin was found. When we got there she was hobbling in the grass with a white string dangling behind. When a fellow intern picked it up, we saw that the string was wound pretty tightly in her wing resulting in a cut. We started cutting off pieces of the string and gently began removing it. Luckily, she was able to move her wing but since she had a bleeding wound, we took her to a local sanctuary. They told us to check on the robin next week to hopefully bring it back to Valley Forge.
On another note, we had crayfish core today and I was leading a group of volunteers that were a family with two kids. The kids were really energetic and loved learning. They instantly began asking many insightful questions and began making observations out loud. As the biotech here in Valley Forge debriefed everyone on the importance of flipping back some of the rocks to not disturb the environment, he pulled out an invasive weed nearby and the kid looked up to him and said, “Didn’t you just kill that plant?” This is why I enjoy working with kids. I enjoy hearing the questions and comments they blurt out and despite being young, older folks can still learn from them.
At the International Urban Wildlife Conference, you may have spotted National Park Service biologists and their representatives amongst some of the world’s most renowned wildlife scientists.
Held at San Diego State University, the conference provided an opportunity for scientists to present a wide array of research to their peers on topics such as bioacoustics, balancing the scientific and educational goals of urban biodiversity, management and monitoring strategies of conservation, human-wildlife interactions, citizen science on a global level, facing both invasive and endangered species from a biological point of view and so much more. Proceeding the scheduled speakers, four scientists from Cabrillo National Monument presented individual posters on various research that is being done at the park. Austin Parker, Wildlife Biologist, discussed monitoring the urban interface utilization by feral cats for endangered species conversation. Reyna Zavala, Videographer and Animator, displayed her animated short film on hybridization amongst native King Snakes titled Cabrillo Field Notes: Snakes Encounters Of The Third Kind
Wildlife Biologist, Stephanie Root elaborated on recent findings of bats on the urban island known as the Point Loma Peninsula (Click here for background information). Finally, I, Nicole Ornelas, presented Cabrillo National Monument’s most recent educational program at the park called 3D Cabrillo. 3D Cabrillo brings biomodels into the 21st century by using free 3D software in collaboration with our hands-on curriculum to teach the public how to create 3D printed creatures.
With this research and more to come, the National Park Service will remain relevant with the coming age of convergence between technology and conservation. The International Urban Wildlife Conference provided an academic platform for our research to be presented and networking opportunities to be established, but it is in our hands to further scientific endeavors, like these, to best manage our public lands.
Click here to find out more about 3D Cabrillo or watch a step by step demonstration of how a 3D printed biomodel is made.
For more information about the International Urban Wildlife Conference visit: http://www.urban-wildlife.org/