Sunday, May 21, 2017

Ashland Biology major receives grant from Ohio Biological Survey

Olivia in the field
Graduating biology major Olivia Widenmeyer has been doing field research at Ashland University's Black Fork Wetlands preserve to investigate populations of two rare bird species.  The Sora and Virginia Rails are considered species of concern by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.  Olivia and her faculty research mentor, Professor Merrill Tawse, have identified both birds at our wetlands preserve.  These birds are secretive and difficult to study, but Olivia has been able to detect the call of both species and has captured individual Virginia Rails.  By attaching radio transmitters to the birds she is able to determine how they use their habitat.  Olivia recently received a $500 grant from the Ohio Biological Survey to purchase additional transmitters for this project.

 Olivia's research so far has suggested that Rails avoid parts of the wetlands containing the invasive Reed Canary Grass.  If true, spread of the grass could further limit the habitat used by these birds.  Ashland University is a member institution of the Ohio Biological Survey and we are excited about receiving their support for this important research.
Presenting at our annual URCA research symposium

Olivia will be applying to Physician Assistant programs later this year.  She was co-president of our American Medical Student Association chapter and President of our Tri-Beta biology honors group.

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