BISC Faculty Member publishes research in Biological Conservation
Dr. Terri Maness (Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, Environmental Science Program Coordinator) and undergraduates Colby Sharp (M.S., BISC ’18; B.S., FOR ’16), Kayley Gonzalez (ASN, NURS ’17), and Kayla Meyers (ASN, NURS ’18) collected data on bird-window collisions on Tech's campus as part of an international collaborative project. The goal of the project, which included more than 60 researchers in the US, Canada, and Mexico, was to determine how large-scale landscape features affects bird-window collision mortality risk. It's estimated that nearly 1 billion birds die annually in North America after colliding with windows. Buildings on Tech’s campus that were part of the project included: Tech Pointe, Biomedical Engineering Center, Reese Hall, Hale Hall, Marbury Alumni Center, Thomas Assembly Center, and the President's House. Dr. Maness and the student researchers surveyed these buildings daily for 21 days during fall migration, while Mr. Wes Palmer (Geographic Information Science Program Coordinator) characterized the landscape features surrounding the buildings. Sixteen bird carcasses were found during the project, including one Le Conte's sparrow, a species of conservation concern in Louisiana. Carcasses were found around the Marbury Alumni Center (five birds), Tech Pointe (four birds), Biomedical Engineering Center (four birds), Hale Hall (two birds), and Thomas Assembly Center (one bird). The work was recently published in the journal "Biological Conservation". Researchers found that building size had a strong positive effect on bird-window collision mortality, but the strength of this effect depended on the degree of urbanization at the regional scale. Large buildings in low urbanization areas have the greatest mortality risk. This collaborative research project was organized through the Ecological Research as Education Network, a program funded by the National Science Foundation to enhance undergraduate research in biological sciences. For more information on the bird-window collision project, including materials to help science instructors conduct similar research at their respective institutions, click HERE.
Figure 1. Student, Colby Sharp, with a Le Conte's sparrow. Colby helped collect data for bird-window collision project.
Figure 2. Le Conte's sparrow found at the Thomas Assembly Center
Figure 3. Magnolia Warbler found at the Biomedical Engineering Center