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2020 Project Proposal

Restoration, ecological management and land use history on the Ecological Preserve

Keri VanCamp (Director of the Ecological Preserve), Margaret Ronsheim (Biology), April Beisaw (Anthropology)

The Vassar Ecological Preserve is implementing a Conservation Action Plan to manage the threats its ecological communities are facing in a changing climate.  The characterization of the ecological communities on the preserve is important for understanding the status of habitats and developing interventions to ensure that the key ecological attributes of priority communities are maintained and restored.  Many of the vegetation patterns we see on the ecological preserve are driven by its complex land use history.  This collaborative URSI project will focus on assessing the accuracy of the existing ecological communities map, mapping land use history on the preserve, and working to implement ongoing monitoring protocols that track indicators of ecological community health.  We will work to link our findings to management interventions that will improve the resiliency of communities on the ecological preserve.  Ecological restoration of priority areas on the Preserve and natural areas on campus such as the Edith Roberts Ecological Laboratory will also be conducted, including on-site propagation of native species for these restoration efforts.

Students will have the opportunity to learn a wide range of field techniques and restoration strategies. This position will provide an excellent opportunity for any student interested in pursuing conservation biology, restoration ecology, natural resource management and/or ecology as a career.

An interest in land management, restoration, ecological monitoring, and mapping is essential.  Classes such as GIS: Spatial analysis, Cartography, Ecology, Plant Diversity, Introductory Biology, and Conservation Biology would be helpful.  Applicants should have plant and animal identification skills and be able to use a dichotomous key.   The successful candidate must enjoy working outdoors, have good organizational skills, and be capable of working in adverse conditions.  Experience working with GIS/GPS and conducting research are preferred.

How should students express interest in this project?
In your application please specify if you are most interested in restoration, implementation of the Conservation Action Plan, or examining the land use history of the Preserve.  This is a collaborative project among Keri Van Camp (Director of the Ecological Preserve), April Beisaw (Anthropology), and Meg Ronsheim (Biology) and we will work together to build a team for this summer's project.  Once we have received all the URSI applications we will contact you to set up a time to meet.  We are also happy to answer any questions you might have during the application process.

This is a 10 week project running from May 27-July 31