Monday, October 29, 2018

Citizen Science Brings Local Students To Katz Natural Area In Crawford County

The following article appeared in the Fall Conserve Magazine published by the Western PA Conservancy--
A group of high school students gathered around what looked like an ordinary mud puddle, doubtful of what they might find.
“Look closely and you’ll discover what’s actually living in this vernal pool, or a seasonal wetland that pops up in springtime,” explains Chris Davis, assistant director of Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology at the University of Pittsburgh.
Eyes widened as the students used dip-nets and hand lenses to investigate this seemingly ordinary puddle of water, finding that it was teeming with aquatic wildlife, like tadpoles and insectis.
Davis and 40 high school students from Greenville Area Senior High School, Conneaut Area Senior High School and St. Joseph’s Catholic High School joined WPC Land Stewardship Coordinator Tyson Johnston for special field experiences in May at our Helen B. Katz Natural Area in Crawford County.
The field trips concluded their participation in citizen-science program, FrogWatch USA, where students monitored frog biodiversity and learned about data collection.
As part of the national program, Davis and Johnston placed audio recorders and temperature sensors at wetlands-- both wooded vernal wetlands and larger more permanent bodies of water-- and beaver ponds at the Katz Natural Area with hopes of recording the calls of frogs.
Students later analyzed the recorded data from these devices in the classroom using specialized software, ultimately identifying eight species of frogs during the three-month project.
“We used the FrogWatch USA program as a tool for students to ask questions about how scientists collect data.  And the Katz Natural Area was the perfect place,” said Davis. “The diversity of the wetlands on the property allowed us to hear a nice diversity of species.”
Johnston works out of our newest regional office in Franklin, Pa. [Venango County], the Northwest Regional Office.  Opened in 2016, this office has given Johnston, a native of Meadville, the opportunity to develop stronger relationships in the northwestern Pennsylvania community.
It has also given Johnston closer access to some of the Conservancy’s northern properties, like the Katz Natural Area, which opened in Crawford County in 2012, and the Lake Pleasant Conservation Area, which opened in Erie County in 1990.
“Because I was working in Franklin, I was able to go directly to the PLE lab, meet with Chris and give a tour of some of our natural areas,” said Johnson.  “I feel like now it’s easier to build these important connections with community leaders and conservation partners.”
More information is available on programs, initiatives and special events at the Western PA Conservancy website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from the Conservancy, Like them on Facebook, Follow them on Twitter, add them to your Circle on Google+, join them on Instagram, visit the Conservancy’s YouTube Channel or add them to your network on Linkedin.  Click Here to support their work.
(Photo: Student science field trip, Katz Natural Area.)
(Reprinted from the Fall Conserve Magazine published by the Western PA Conservancy.)

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