Integrating on-campus wildlife research projects into the wildlife curriculum Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • We propose that creating on-campus wildlife research projects propelled by undergraduate students and interns is a simple way to improve the quality of wildlife education and research. Wildlife educators and natural resource agencies alike have called for wildlife undergraduates to acquire more experience and technical and critical thinking skills before entering the work force. The benefits, especially in the aforementioned skills, from learning by experiencing are well documented. One way to increase learning experience opportunities and to include undergraduates in the research process is through the use of on-campus wildlife research projects. We used 2 on-campus research projects to illustrate the versatility and benefits of this approach. On the urban Texas A&M University (TAMU) campus (≈45,000 students, College Station), we established a fox squirrel (Sciurus niger) research project, and on the rural Sul Ross State University (SRSU) campus (≈2,400 students, Alpine, Texas), we established a scaled quail (Callipepla squamat) research project. We have incorporated on-campus wildlife research projects into the lesson plans of 4 broad categories of wildlife courses at SRSU and TAMU: wildlife ecology, population dynamics, habitat management, and wildlife management techniques. We have used the projects to provide "hands-on" wildlife experiences, which included capture and handling techniques, radiotelemetry, habitat measurements, population estimation, Geographic Information System (GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, and data analysis and presentation. Student workers, interns, and volunteers are the driving force behind the research projects that have proven to be an excellent source of long-term data. Other benefits of on-campus wildlife research projects include a common research theme throughout the wildlife curriculum and less travel time commonly associated with traditional field labs. Additionally, research projects have boosted the profile of both departments on their respective campuses. We believe similar projects on raccoons (Procyon lotor), opossums (Didelphis virginianus), and feral cats (Felis catus) could provide other excellent on-campus research opportunities.

author list (cited authors)

  • McCleery, R. A., Lopez, R. R., Harveson, L. A., Silvy, N. J., & Slack, R. D.

publication date

  • January 1, 2005 11:11 AM

publisher