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…pun intended.

Have I been staying in touch with nature? With the tips of my fingers. No, I haven’t been running outside and exploring vegetation-filled areas (by the way, if you look hard enough you’d find a Snowy Owl perched somewhere (or two) around Ottawa. They’ve come back recently!). I haven’t even been spending time in my backyard; the only thing I do is fill my feeder once a week.

However, I’ve been doing quite a bit of nature stuff while sitting in a building/house somewhere or standing in front of a small crowd. Firstly, I’ve done a little analysis with ArcGIS and found that birds that have higher collision rates do indeed pass by populated areas more often. I’ve also applied to one of FSWEP’s departmental programs, Great Lakes Area Summer Science Student Program, a job that would take me to Sault. Ste. Marie (Ontario) for the whole summer. The last highlight of my nature projects is a future event (tomorrow) that involves attending two seminars (back-to-back), one about land use and changes in optimal conservation networks over time, and one about paleoecology between calm oligotrophic lakes and more turbulent ones (a good relevant seminar, given I’m writing a Limnology exam on the 16th of December). Of course, I’m just summarizing a part of two big researches into one sentence. If one of the researchers read this, please don’t hate me! Or if you hate me, please don’t chase me around with a stick. Provided below is a bit more detail about each of the first two activities I’ve done.

1) Bird collisions and Metropolitan areas.

This project was inspired by a suggestion mentioned at Audubon (http://bird-friendly.audubon.org/research-and-monitoring) that perhaps the disproportionate likelihood of collision between bird species is “because their migratory routes take them through cities”. For this project as a part of the course GEG2720 (French section. GEG2320 – Introduction to Geomatics), my partner and I chose 3 species with higher collision rates and 2 species with lower collision rates (as per literature data): (Higher) American Woodcock, Black-and-White Sparrow and Golden-Winged Warbler; (lower) Western Tanager and Harris’s Sparrow. Jumping straight to the results with two parts:
1) From counting the bird observations (points) for each species (E-Bird data) in metropolitan areas (polygons) in North America and 2) from counting the metropolitan areas in North America in a polygon traced from bird observations for each species (E-Bird data), we obtained:

Picture2

(left) % of bird observations in metropolitan centres. Mean for high collision rate (1st three species): 32.75% (±1.65). Mean for low collision rate: 26.45% (±0.60). P = 0.025. (right) Number of metropolitan centres in migratory routes. Mean for high collision: 2937 (±209). Mean for low collision: 965.5 (±91). P = 0.002.

The take-home message (unless you don’t want to take it home…) is simply that birds with higher collision rates in this project are indeed found more often in metropolitan areas (populated places)/their migratory routes take them more often through cities. They take the Mississippi and Atlantic Corridors where there are more cities, while those with lower rates take the Pacific and Central ones.

Picture3

The four main migration corridors

That’s it. We presented this project in front of a few people including two judges on GIS Day. Of course, there are many factors that were not controlled and this preliminary project could use a lot of refinement, but there are components that could hopefully and potentially be of use for future researches. For details about the project, questions or comments, I’d be more than happy to get in contact.

2) FSWEP (Federal Student Work Experience Program).

Every time a friend tells me they have a hard time finding a job, I scream “FSWEP!”…okay, no I don’t scream that, but you get the gist. I also think it’s a great program for anyone who, like me, frowns at the CO-OP work terms’ schedule (for various reasons). This is a government-run program targeting high school/undergraduate students studying full-time in college or university. Depending on the skills that an applicant states they possess, different ministries will send job offers. I had selected skills ranging from computer science-related ones to laboratory and field sampling ones. From personal experience (and logically), there are a lot more positions available closer to the computer side of the spectrum. Those jobs come from many places including Environment Canada, Citizenship and Immigration, Public Works, etc. In fact, I’ve never had a job offer that leaned more toward the science side…perhaps CO-OP would’ve helped (a lot) in this regard.

That’s when FSWEP’s Departmental Programs went into play. There are four categories: Canada Border Services Agency – Student Border Services Officer, Veterans Affairs Canada – Student Guide Program in France, Fisheries and Oceans Canada – Great Lakes Area Summer Science Student Program, and Canadian Coast Guard – Inshore Rescue Boat Service.
Sadly speaking, I’d been interested in the Great lakes Area Program since I first found out about FSWEP in the fall of 2012, but it’s a summer program and my summers had never been free enough for me to fit this job in, until THIS YEAR. Come on guys, give me a chance. It’s not the only job I’m excited for, but certainly one of the top ones.

I’ll update this or make another post in the event that I remember another nature-related activity I’ve done. Until then, keep living hard and working hard folks!