Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC)
2001 marked the beginning of a collaboration between the Department of Science and Technology, the Department of Environmental Conservation and Horticulture, and Braddock Bay Raptor Research. For years, banders at Braddock Bay had been unable to record the sex of the Red-tailed hawks that had been banded and released as part of their annual banding program. A lack of sexual dimorphism in these raptors made it impossible to obtain this important piece of data with any level of confidence.
Researchers at FLCC designed and implemented a five year study plan to explore the possibility of identifying morphometric correlates of sex in this bird. A PCR-based blood test was used to identify the sex, and these results were compared to a large data set containing morphometric data collected in the field prior to releasing each bird. Students in FLCC’s A.S. Biotechnology Program participated in the project as part of an independent study course. The benefits to the students became quickly evident, and led to a commitment by FLCC faculty to begin the process of bringing the research experience into the classroom.
SCI 200: Global Ecosystems, Tropical Coral Reefs
The SCI 200 course at Finger Lakes Community College has been running for 6 years and falls into the CCURI category of a Course Undergraduate Research Experience, or CURE solution to bringing undergraduate research into the classroom. Students in the SCI 200 course are introduced to the methods and techniques used to explore large-scale ecological questions. The course then plugs them into ongoing research projects occurring in the region. Students at FLCC are exploring questions related to the impact of a variety of stressors on reef health. Current study sites are located in Montserrat and St. Kitts and Nevis in the West Indies. The Youtube video below depicts the early stages of development of the course and includes an interview with Alison Milliman, FLCC’s very first Barry Goldwater Scholar.
Through collaboration and resource sharing, a molecular ecology focus has emerged within the research program at FLCC. Using nature’s molecular signatures, FLCC students and faculty have been exploring organisms and ecosystems on a whole new level.
Highlights of the research program at Finger Lakes Community College include.......
Beginning in 1995, the island of Montserrat in the West Indies has suffered acute and persistent volcanic activity from the Soufriere Hills Volcano. Repeated volcanic activity, including large ash clouds, pyroclastic flows, and extensive erosion, has had a devastating effect on Montserrat’s ecosystems. Research has shown that the long-term effects of the volcano on local wildlife can be severe. Montserrat sustains a large number of endemic species, including an endemic anole, Anolis lividus.
In collaboration with scientists at Harvard University, faculty and students at FLCC have been monitoring populations of this anole at multiple sites. Research questions are focused on the effects of volcanic activity on the population, including evidence of adaptation to the dramatic changes in habitat characteristics that have occurred as a result of this activity.
Muñoz, M. M. & Hewlett, J.A. 2011. Ecological Consequences of Continual Volcanic Activity on the Lizard, Anolis lividus, from Montserrat. Herpetological Review. 42(2): 160-165.
Finger Lakes Community College sits on the northern edge of a rapidly expanding black bear population. In collaboration with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), scientists and students at FLCC have been exploring numerous questions related to the biology of this majestic mammal. Each winter, students are given the unique opportunity to visit bear dens as part of a two course sequence focused on black bear management. Bear movements and ranges are studied with the use of GPS collars placed on bears. In addition, students are able to participate in studies related to den characteristics, feeding and territorial behaviors, and reproductive biology. To learn more about this project, and other wildlife studies, you can visit BearlyAlyssa and Backyard Beasts—two blogs devoted to wildlife projects at FLCC.
At FLCC we have three Departments involved in undergraduate research.
Conservation and Environmental Sciences
John Van Niel
Viticulture and Wine Technology