Six University of Guam graduate and undergraduate students have been working alongside eight Northern Marianas College students during a three-week island ecology course on Saipan and Guam during the holiday break.
The course is funded through a grant awarded to Rice University and the University of Guam by the National Science Foundation.
Instructors/co-coordinators from the collaborating institutions who have been guiding the students through ecology research activities include Dr. Ross Miller from the University of Guam, Dr. Haldre Rogers from Rice University, Evan Fricke from the University of Washington, and Dr. Alfredo De Torres from the Northern Marianas College.
The two other assisting staff include Lee Roy Sablan and Edward Dela Cruz, former NMC students who are now studying at the University of Guam.
The participants of the program are learning about the natural history of the islands, economics and bio-conservation of ecosystems, and “predator-prey” invasive species. They conducted ecological research projects in the Mariana Islands and also studied “predator-prey” impact studies of bird loss by brown tree snakes in Guam and on Saipan.
The course is part of the Ecology of Bird Loss project. Dr. Haldre Rogers, project director, offers the course to students who want fieldwork and research experience.
The course initially began Dec. 28, 2014, through Jan. 5, 2015, at the NMC and continued at UOG on Jan. 6-15, 2015. Students conducted a presentation of their research yesterday at UOG. The titles for their projects included: “Hermit crab abundance and seed removal rates”; “Spider web characteristics”; “Pollinator abundance on non-native plants”; “Skink anti-predator behavioral responses”; and, “Understory insect abundance.”
The students have also been participating in career development workshops that focus on writing resumes and cover letters for jobs in the field of natural resource management. Rogers hopes the participants will be encouraged to take up leadership positions in the science communities in Guam and the CNMI.
In the past, the same course provided various ecological research project opportunities for the students, including analyzing the behavior of birds around snakes in Guam and on Saipan. (NMC)