Monday, August 31, 2015

Independent research projects for Archosaurs (nee Ornithology)

We started school 45 minutes ago and my first class is less than 24 hours away. I used to call it Ornithology but I changed it to Archosaurs. Partly because I was lecturing on dinosaurs and crocodilians anyway and partly because it sounds cooler. 

The lab section starts tomorrow and this year I'm having them do group research projects. In the past I made these simple - too simple. So I'm upping my game and giving them a few options

1. molecular detection of blood parasites in birds in the fall

  • catch birds at a local park (Kirby Natural Area)
  • take blood samples
  • use PCR and gel electrophoresis to determine if blood parasites are present
  • use microscopy as validation (to detect false negatives for the molecular techniques)

2. seed dispersal across urban gradients

  • set up seed traps (flat window screens)
  • visit and check for bird crap
  • compare seeds to knowns (we need to build our library)

3. ?  Would love to do something with ectoparasites or diet (if we did next generation sequencing). 

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