June 29, 2011
Final Research Paper
For my time spent doing community service, I chose the Urban Ecology Center. I was mainly interested in the field research opportunities as they pertained to my education in Natural Science as well as my own personal passions and interest. The Urban Ecology Center is a community built organization, which gives back to the environment, educates children on being conscious of the environment as well as provides a public space for any one to come and be a part of the goings on or just hang out and use the facilities. The Urban Ecology Center at Riverside Park is where I spent most of my volunteer hours, the building is more adequate for school groups and other programs to do activities such as rock climbing, canoeing, conservation and gardening.
I have had the opportunity to work on a bunch of different outings, not only the field research projects. I helped out with the Teen Adventure Challenge which consisted of a number of teams made up of four teens and one adult, most came from schools within Milwaukee county. The teams then set off on their adventure to complete all the events in a timely fashion and score the fastest time. There was biking, which I was stationed at one of the checkpoints in order to take photos of the challengers. I was also stationed at rock climbing and took photos of the teams completing that challenge as well. I really enjoyed helping out on the event, especially in the rock climbing area, many of the teens had never climbed a rock wall before and watching them fight to scale the wall with their team cheering them on was very inspiring and rewarding, it was a great thing to watch.
The main opportunities that I helped out with at the Urban Ecology Center were the field research projects. I was considered a research intern and I helped monitor and conduct surveys in order to better understand populations of certain species of animals in the environment around the UEC. I volunteered on the Turtle Survey Team, the Bat Monitoring team and the Snake Surveying team. With the turtle and bat monitoring, the time limitations were difficult with only an hour long survey, there were many times that I was unable to make it due to work and other responsibilities. However I did enjoy helping out on both, for the turtle surveys we set these cylindrical net traps for the turtles to come into after being attracted by the bate, along the shoreline of the Milwaukee River. We set them in areas that the turtles might be likely to look for food and bask, and we disguised the traps with driftwood in order to make them less obvious. We did not have much luck with the turtle surveys but I think that may have had mostly to do with the not so consistent weather.
For the Bat surveys we gathered a group of at least four people to conduct our bat walks. We would go to one of the local parks in the area, Washington, Riverside, Klutsch, and one over more towards Cudahy and walk along the paths for at least an hour. The equipment we used for the bat walks was quite sophisticated, we had a PDA hooked up to a sonar device called an Anabat, the Anabat would pick up the sounds being emitted by the bats flying around the area and the PDA would utilize a program that would track our GPS route and at the same time record it and display the calls that we were catching on the screen. The calls themselves were only curvy lines made up of lots and lots of tiny dots. These signals were in a specific frequency level that would help us determine what species of bat it may have been that made the call. The length of the frequency call as well as the shape it created on the screen were also factors in our deciding on the species. After one of our hour long bat walks and all the data was recorded, we would upload the data onto the bat monitoring website for the state and we would then enter the data into our own records on the computer as well as use a...