Steve Hager, Chris Bertram ('08 Biology), and Katie Derner ('05 Geography) just published a paper titled "Breeding birds and nest productivity at Green Wing Environmental Laboratory, northcentral Illinois" in Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science [2009, 102(1&2):71-93]. Katie's senior research project at Augie described land use changes at this site from the early-1900s to the present. Her work, along with regional information from the Illinois Natural History Survey, provided the historical setting from which to appreciate current habitat structure at this site and how this influenced the presence and absence of birds. Although not an author on the paper, Reuben Heine in Geography kindly assisted with other geographic analyses, which allowed us to make inferences about habitat area and the potential quality of the site to breeding birds.
Chris's work assessed nest productivity (how successful birds are at raising a bird to fledge) at Green Wing. The Lily Foundation Student-Faculty Summer Research Fellowship provided invaluable support to Chris for this labor-intensive field project. Steve studied avian behavior and used this information to catalogue the types and numbers of breeding species.
We found that this field station was a breeding home to almost 100 species and the most numerous were Red-winged Blackbird and Gray Catbird, both of which experienced high nest productivity. The highly fragmented nature of the site's habitats favors these species, but appears to impose significant obstacles (increased predation by raccoons and nest parasitism by the very abundant Brown-headed Cowbird) to successful breeding in other species, such as Indigo Bunting and Yellow-throated Vireo.
Lastly, we thank the students of the 2005 and 2007 Senior Inquiry course, Research in Field Biology (BIOL465), taught by Steve at Green Wing. This project was born out of student inquiry in 2005. The class in 2007 was then informed by the results of two (of three) years of this project, which turned out to be the catalyst for several student research projects. It was very gratifying to see how teaching informed research and vice versa.
At the annual meeting of the Central States Communication Association in St. Louis on April 3-4, Ellen Hay partnered with students Anna Calix, Allison Mennella and Laura Burns to present the panel "Civic Engagement: A Gateway to Self-Authorship." After Hay provided background on self-authorship, the students summarized their civic engagement projects. Also attending the meeting was senior Heather Holland who presented "Songs of Hope and Change: Popular Music as Rhetoric in Barack Obama's Presidential Campaign." David Snowball advised Heather's senior inquiry project.
For the second consecutive year Norm Moline was one of the three judges for the finals of the State of Illinois National Geographic "Geography Bee" at the Field Museum in Chicago on April 3. The winner, a student at one of the Naperville schools, moves on to the final competition in Washington, D.C. at the National Geographic headquarters. One student from Rock Island was one of the 103 students from around the state who had qualified for these state finals.
Douglas Parvin has been admitted to and will be partcipating in the "Metaphysics and Mind" NEH Summer Seminar at Washington University. The seminar will be devoted to discussion of fundamental metaphysical themes including the nature of properties, causality, laws of nature, powers, and qualities, as well as the application of these themes to particular issues in the philosophy of mind.Erin Stoffel traveled to San Antionio, TX, March 20-22 to attend a conference entitled "Behavior Biology, and Chemistry: Translational Research in Addiction" sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The title of her presentation was "Response perseveration in adolescent and adult rats in a reversal learning task" (co-authors: seniors Taylor Pocopanni and Julie Gass). The data presented was a portion of a larger project designed to identify traits in individuals that predict vulnerability to substance abuse.