Squirrel behavior and distribution on the UCSC campus and campus reserve

Mentor name – Lab group: Gizelle Hurtado –Ken Norris Center for Natural History at UCSC

Positions: 2 interns

Tentative dates: approx. June 26th – approx. Sept 20th

Project Location: Norris Center, Main Campus, with some potential days trips to nearby locations; such as Año Nuevo State Park, Fort Ord, etc.

Project Background: The UC Santa Cruz campus and campus reserve are involved in the research, conservation and management of many species and landscapes. This project seeks to inform researchers, conservation biologists and managers about the impacts of urban development on several squirrel species that call UCSC home. Broadly, the goal is to understand the diversity of influences that urbanization can have on mammalian species in a changing landscape and how various mammalian species use habitats under management and conservation efforts. Specifically, we will aim to understand how different squirrel species are impacted. We will examine urbanizations potential influences via presences / absence surveys, habitat use surveys, collecting data on behavior, and examining distribution of squirrels across campus. This project is a continuation of a project that began last summer with CAMINO students. CAMINO students in this summer’s research group will continue to lay the foundation for this planned ongoing project, and will contribute to our knowledge of the impacts of urbanization on mammalian wildlife.

Intern duties: Interns will work with a mentor to define a research question and carry out their investigation through work in the field and in the lab. Interns are expected to conduct field work; conducting surveys in the early morning, midday and afternoon/evening, setting out camera traps, processing photos and video data captured, hiking across campus and the campus reserve (on and off the paved walk ways, hiking in wooded areas and grasslands is expected) to document presence and absence of animals, some trapping of small mammals and releasing them in the early mornings, setting live traps in the late afternoons/ evenings. Interns are expected to conduct a thorough literature review, collect data, enter data into spread sheets, analyze date, write a research paper, create a presentation, create a poster, present their findings and other related tasks. This research will take place on the UC Santa Cruz campus and the Campus Reserve.

Intern qualifications: Field experience is a plus (or a high comfort level with being in the field outside). Formal field experience is not required (a high-level of enthusiasm to learn is essential). Experience with research protocols, data management, and data analysis (using excel, and R) are a plus but not required. A high level of self-motivation is essential and required for this position.

Do you recommend the intern(s) volunteer in your lab during Spring quarter?
not at this time

UC Santa Cruz Land Acknowledgement

The land from which we base our work is the unceded territory of the Awaswas-speaking Uypi Tribe. The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, comprised of the descendants of indigenous people taken to missions Santa Cruz and San Juan Bautista during Spanish colonization of the Central Coast, is today working hard to restore traditional stewardship practices on these lands and heal from historical trauma.