Luke Macaulay, Cooperative Extension Specialist

Closed (1) Wildlife Camera and Botanical Data Analysis & Cleaning

Applications for Fall 2017 are now closed for this project.

The Macaulay Lab is seeking two to three undergraduates to assist with the processing of camera trap photos and managing large datasets for research publications. These projects were conducted on two private ranches in California: 1) the Tejon Ranch, which is California’s largest contiguous private ranch at 270,000 acres, and 2) the 2,500 acre Ventana Ranch in San Benito County, CA. Three research projects associated with these properties are in need of assistance.

First is a five-year project evaluating the impacts of cattle grazing and feral pig activity on riparian areas on the Tejon Ranch in southern California. This project has a botanical dataset from 2017 that needs to be entered into a database, and one year of photos taken from motion activated cameras of various wildlife species that need to be reviewed and entered into spreadsheets for analysis. This project could lead to the potential of a senior thesis looking at riparian wildlife occurrence in a record drought period as well as informing state & transition models for publications that are currently in progress.

A related project is the analysis of five years of riparian bird surveys conducted by the Tejon Ranch Conservancy. Project goals are to determine relationships between riparian breeding bird density and habitat characteristics on the ranch. This project will require checking data for errors, producing summary statistics, remote sensing to classify vegetation cover, and eventually using statistical models to evaluate relationships between bird population density and riparian habitat characteristics. Student involvement could be in any of these areas, depending on interests and prior skills. Results from this analysis will help guide future conservation activities on the Tejon Ranch.

The third project is for a manuscript developed out of a project on the Ventana Ranch that is in the final stages prior to submission for publication. That paper uses a Bayesian model to estimate the density of black-tailed deer on a private ranch in California. This project will require some data cleaning assistance, which will involve correcting errors and inconsistencies in the dataset. If student has interest, student will be welcome to explore refining the model (produced in R) for additional publications, which could also be the subject of a senior thesis.

Additional opportunities for research will likely arise throughout the semester, including potential assistance on projects involving rangeland ecology, geospatial analysis, and ranch economics.

Please see project description.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Felix Ratcliff, Post-Doc

Qualifications: • Interest in wildlife and understanding how researchers take photos and perform analyses on them for broader insights about particular species and ecosystems. • Ability to pay close attention to detail in pictures of wildlife. • Ability to identify Californian large mammals. This can also be learned on the job. • Careful data entry and analysis are of most importance rather than speed. Students will gain a working knowledge of data entry and manipulation in Excel, and depending on prior skills and interests, may also use ArcGIS and R for analysis and generating summary statistics.

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated

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