Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

Undergraduates and Woodpeckers

Class

Article

College

College of Science

Faculty Mentor

Kim Sullivan

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Abstract

Woodpeckers serve a vital role as a keystone species in their respective biome by excavating nesting cavities that are used by numerous forest birds and animals. These secondary cavity nesters rely heavily on the success of primary cavity nesters in order to ensure their own reproductive success. Unfortunately, numerous woodpeckers, such as the Black-backed (Picoides arcticus) and White-headed Woodpeckers (Picoides albolarvatus), have seen a large decline in numbers and are now considered a threatened species. Inability for these woodpeckers to reproduce creates a top-down trophic cascade in their biome. In an effort to better understand how nesting success is impacted by the nesting behaviors of woodpeckers, threats from predators, and secondary cavity nesters at the nest, sixty-five different nests were filmed for over 15,000 hours in the Eastern Washington Cascades during the 2015 and 2016 breeding seasons. Because there was a great deal of footage to watch we enlisted the help of 937 undergraduate students in a general biology lab course. Students received extra credit for participation. In addition, a proportion of the participants voluntarily answered a questionnaire about their experience. A trained team of undergraduate researchers then validated the students’ data. About 15% of students in the course participated. We found that students accurately recorded data approximately 90% of the time. Most students came away from the experience with a more positive attitude towards undergraduate research and were able to restate the main research question in their own words. However, many students had difficulty understanding their role as a data collector in the research project. With the help of the undergraduates we are better able to understand the ecological pressures woodpeckers face and identifying what factors contribute to successful nesting, proper measures can be taken to maintain healthy levels of woodpecker populations.

Location

The North Atrium

Start Date

4-12-2018 10:30 AM

End Date

4-12-2018 11:45 AM

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Apr 12th, 10:30 AM Apr 12th, 11:45 AM

Undergraduates and Woodpeckers

The North Atrium

Woodpeckers serve a vital role as a keystone species in their respective biome by excavating nesting cavities that are used by numerous forest birds and animals. These secondary cavity nesters rely heavily on the success of primary cavity nesters in order to ensure their own reproductive success. Unfortunately, numerous woodpeckers, such as the Black-backed (Picoides arcticus) and White-headed Woodpeckers (Picoides albolarvatus), have seen a large decline in numbers and are now considered a threatened species. Inability for these woodpeckers to reproduce creates a top-down trophic cascade in their biome. In an effort to better understand how nesting success is impacted by the nesting behaviors of woodpeckers, threats from predators, and secondary cavity nesters at the nest, sixty-five different nests were filmed for over 15,000 hours in the Eastern Washington Cascades during the 2015 and 2016 breeding seasons. Because there was a great deal of footage to watch we enlisted the help of 937 undergraduate students in a general biology lab course. Students received extra credit for participation. In addition, a proportion of the participants voluntarily answered a questionnaire about their experience. A trained team of undergraduate researchers then validated the students’ data. About 15% of students in the course participated. We found that students accurately recorded data approximately 90% of the time. Most students came away from the experience with a more positive attitude towards undergraduate research and were able to restate the main research question in their own words. However, many students had difficulty understanding their role as a data collector in the research project. With the help of the undergraduates we are better able to understand the ecological pressures woodpeckers face and identifying what factors contribute to successful nesting, proper measures can be taken to maintain healthy levels of woodpecker populations.