Wildlife Ecology Research

Rensselaerville Falls, Huyck Preserve and Biological Research Station. July 13, 2014.


What:
Wildlife Ecology Research Program for high school students entering their Junior or Senior Year.
Where:
Huyck Preserve and Biological Research Station
5052 Delaware Turnpike
Rensselaerville, NY 12147
When:
Late applications due May 1 by 5 PM, EDT.
Session I—July 5-26
Session II—August 2-23
Cost:
$3,800, but scholarships are available
The view of Lincoln Pond at twilight during one of our beaver excursions.

The view of Lincoln Pond at twilight during one of our beaver excursions.


I was fortunate to be one of eight very lucky students to attend the Wildlife Ecology Research Program at the Huyck Preserve and Biological Research Station in July 2014. The thorough three week program is perfect for those wishing to pursue a career in biological fields, allowing high school students to get hands-on field experience with current researchers, professors, and experts in a variety of fields.
Immature Bald Eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, found extremely close to us during one of the morning bird walks. Huyck Preserve and Biological Research Station. July 10, 2014.

Immature Bald Eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, found extremely close to us during one of the morning bird walks. Huyck Preserve and Biological Research Station. July 10, 2014.


The first 1.5 weeks are devoted to instruction, mostly in the field, focusing on seven major types of field ecology: ecosystem, community, population, behavioral, physiological, disease, and evolutionary ecology. Instruction usually lasts until mid-afternoon, when students can investigate possible research topics and explore the activities offered at the Huyck Preserve.
An awesome diagram hanging outside executive director Dr. Dawn O'Neal's lab room.

An awesome diagram hanging outside executive director Dr. Dawn O’Neal’s lab room. We were able to examine birds by hand in the mistnetting session of the program.


The Wildlife Ecology Research program at the Huyck Preserve and Biological Research Station was excellent; it has provided me with the resources necessary for a rigorous scientific education. Prior to an instruction day, we were required to read scientific papers related to the topic, which helped familiarize us with the characteristic style and diction of academics. In addition, we were exposed to amazing fieldwork opportunities, such as sampling for aquatic macroinvertebrates and mistnetting for birds. We filled our time in the mornings before instruction birding, with the guidance of the extremely knowledgeable Jasen Liu. By evenings, I was able to convince most of my fellow students to examine the hidden world of moths that flocked to the UV light behind the house.
Immature Chestnut-sided Warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica) found at the Huyck Preserve and Biological Research Station during a bird walk.

Immature Chestnut-sided Warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica) found at the Huyck Preserve and Biological Research Station during a bird walk. Found on July 14, 2014.


The last 1.5 weeks are devoted to individual or group research. In the last week, students are required to write a research paper and present their findings to an audience at a public event. The research is open to any form research pertaining to the natural world. Last year, my peers and I studied a wide range of topics, such as how the nonnative garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) affects soil chemistry; the effectiveness of adult dragonflies and damselflies (order Odonata) as indicators of water quality; diet preferences of various species of crayfish (superfamily Parastacoidea); the effect of ecological succession on bird diversity (class Aves); the homing instinct of salamanders (order Caudata); and the relationship of the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (Adelges tsugae) to tree maturity, climate, and proximity to waterways.
Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum), found at the Huyck Preserve and Biological Research Station on July 10, 2014.

Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum), found at the Huyck Preserve and Biological Research Station on July 10, 2014.


In addition to the comprehensive content of the course, I was able to meet many wonderful people. Dawn O’Neal, Ph.D., the Executive Director of the Huyck Preserve and Biological Research Station, possesses a wealth of information she is willing to share at a moment’s notice. Her lively personality provided us all with an abundance of laughter. Several professors who helped on the instructional days were extremely friendly and willing to help assist in the creation of our own experiments in the latter portion of the program.
Baltimore Checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton), found at the Huyck Preserve and Biological Research Station. Found on July 16, 2014.

Baltimore Checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton), found at the Huyck Preserve and Biological Research Station. Found on July 16, 2014.


Three weeks may sound long, but the experience was a whirlwind. I made friends with those who share the same passion for the environment from around the country. I learned so much about different field practices and different scientific processes in relation to ecology which will most definitely serve me well in the future as I pursue a career in the sciences. The Wildlife Ecology Research program at the Huyck Preserve provided me with lifelong friends, unforgettable memories, and an amazing, one-of-a-kind education in science.

2015-04-22T16:35:03+00:00