Seniors Present at Wildlife Research Seminar

At the beginning of February, ten Bosque School seniors in Dan Shaw’s Wildlife Research Seminar class presented at the 54th Joint Annual Meeting of the Arizona and New Mexico Chapters of the Wildlife Society and American Fisheries Society (also known as, “JAM”). In a typical year, students would travel to Arizona with Ms. Elder and Mr. Shaw to attend the conference, but this year the annual conference moved to a virtual format. Students created presentations and shared their wildlife and fisheries research findings to an audience of graduate students and professionals over Zoom. 
Given the pandemic, students encountered a whole new set of challenges this year—from collecting data to presenting. Mr. Shaw explained, “Every one of them had obstacles they had to work around—whether they didn’t have enough field volunteers, had to wait to access different spaces, or weren’t able to collect a lot of data. However, they all collected enough to draw some conclusions about the local and environment.” He added, “To me, it was great to see what the students have accomplished in the time of the pandemic.” 
The following is a list of topics that our students presented:
  • Bernalillo County (NM) Rio Grande beaver activity: A comparison from 2012 to 2020 - Augustus ‘21
  • A 20 year of study of deterring beaver feeding on wire wrapped cottonwood trees - Grace ‘21 and Isabella ‘21
  • Using stable isotope analysis to determine Black Bear diets in central New Mexico - Charlie ‘21 and Cody ‘21
  • Albuquerque's Impact on E. coli Levels of the Rio Grande and the Implications for the downstream Pueblo of Isleta - Arielle ‘21
  • Wildlife Flood. No Ark Needed: Using Art and Film to Educate Stakeholders on the Importance of Urban Flood Control Arroyos as Wildlife Corridors - Julia ‘21
  • Fall Surveys for Monarch and other Native Butterflies, Along Albuquerque's Rio Grande - Aviva ‘21, Claire ‘21, and Paola ‘21
This year marked the 13th time that Bosque School students have been able to attend and share their discoveries at the annual meeting. In 2008, Katie Elder (Class of 2008) and three other students were the first to present at the conference. Now, Ms. Elder and Mr. Shaw work in partnership to guide students throughout the research and presentation experience. Mr. Shaw noted, “She’s the brains behind the operation, and I just drive the bus.” He added, “Always hire people that are smarter than yourself.”

While Ms. Elder and Mr. Shaw provide guidance, students are self-motivated and self-directed for the most part with their projects. Each student group chooses their topic, puts together a proposal, reads through existing literature, reviews previous research, goes through the proper approval process steps for animal care ethics and humane practices, conducts research, gathers data, analyzes data, and agrees on how to best present their findings. 

Several projects are a continuation of research done by previous Bosque School students. “Previous students have paved a way for current students to come in and build upon their research,” said Mr. Shaw. For example, the project that Grace ‘21 and Isabella ‘21 worked on this year began 20 years ago. They were the third student group to dive deeper into how to deter beavers from feeding on cottonwood trees. Cody ‘21 and Charlie ‘21 also picked up a project that was started over six years ago by Bosque School students. They used bear hair snares to analyze how much human-sourced food bears were eating through isotopic data using human hair as the control sample.

“In each case, the work is meant to be aligned with Bosque School’s mission statement—connecting to authentic experiences in the community, connecting with natural resources, and the wildlife that surrounds us,” said Mr. Shaw. Every project involves partnerships with the community and many groups work with partners like ABQ Open Space, Rio Grande Nature Center, UNM Stable Isotope Lab, BEMP, the US Forest Service, NM Department of Game and Fish, and various biologists with expertise on specific topics. 

Mr. Shaw remarked, “I’m really proud of these kids and what they do.”