Friday, May 16, 2014

URSP Student Viviana Ruiz Conducts A Behavioral Investigation of the Thermal Solar Niche of the House Sparrow

Doing my own project and getting paid for it interested me a lot in this program. It was the experience and the resume builder, is what I really wanted out of this program. Essentially, I want to be a conservation biologist. I want to work with a specific species to help them and the ecosystem that depend on them. Research and animal behavior is something that I wanted to experience. When my mentor was finishing up her thesis on House Sparrows and how the environment affects these birds is when I decided I wanted to help and create my own experiment. To better understand adaptive changes like global warming.

This project related to my long term goals because I needed to understand how outside research is done with animals that you cannot control. To understand that many changing variables and the challenges that come alone with research. This project gave me a front row seat on the perspective of how frustrating research can be because everyday you learn something new that you wish you knew in the beginning.

On a weekly basis I review House Sparrow videos. These videos were recorded in July and August of last year (2013) and usually one day contains 5 different videos representing each treatment. There were 5 different shade treatments and depending on how many House Sparrows I saw it would depend on how long each video took me. So for example one video can have at least 250 birds within the video, which is an hour long. That video could take me 6 hours or some videos I would only see about 30 House sparrows, which would take me about an hour.

One thing I discovered this week was that the Male Adult House Sparrows seemed to like Tokoma Park better than West Grove park and George Mason Park, which therefore changed my plan again that The videos I will be analyzing will only come from Tokoma Park. Every week I learn something and change my game plan some way or another.