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The genetics and development of specialized floral tissue in grasses

The goal of this project is to determine the genes involved in the development of a specialized floral tissue type in grasses - the awn. The awn, a projection from the tissue that protects the developing seed, has diversified widely throughout grasses. Awns are specialized for a number of ecological roles, including photosynthesis to provide the seed with nutrients, as well as seed dispersal and establishment. Although the ecology of awns has been examined, the genetics and development of awns have not been well-studied.

Avian Bioacoustics - Urban Noise and Bird Song.

Noise affects how birds communicate. Conservation biologists have become interested in how anthropogenic noise may impact behavior and physiology, which in turn may impact population dynamics, evolution of behavior, and community structure. This project is investigating how nightingales and other species of European birds respond to anthropogenic noise. The investigation focuses on how noise might change the acoustic characteristics of songs.

The evolution of seed dispersal in weedy rice

Some plants have evolved to be troublesome weeds of human agriculture. A trait common to many weed plants is efficient seed dispersal. This project involves comparisons between cultivated rice, which does not disperse its seeds, and weedy rice, a bad weed related to cultivated rice that disperses its seeds efficiently. The undergraduate student involved with this project will assist a graduate student who is studying the genetic basis of seed dispersal.

Wildlife ecology of residential yards and urban green space

We are seeking a student intern to assist with a quantitative literature review of urban wildlife papers to determine spatial and temporal trends, the proportion of research that takes place on different types of green space and whether these patterns have changed over time. Duties will include organizing and compiling relevant literature, reviewing research articles to collect information and entering data in excel. There may also be opportunities to assist with occasional field work in the local area (e.g. mist-netting backyard birds).

Urban Ecology of Backyard Bees and Arthropods

Student interns needed to prepare insect specimens for identification. Research is part of the "Alternative Futures for the American Residential Macrosystem (ARM)" project, a multi-city integrated assessment of local and regional-scale consequences of residential development. We are investigating how varied land management decisions influence the ecological function and communities, and structure of residential yards and other public spaces.

Invaders for Sale: Invasive Species and the Nursery Industry

Invasive plants have well-documented, negative ecological and economic impacts. Ironically, humans deliberately introduce the majority of invasive plants by importing and planting exotic species as ornamentals in our homes and gardens. Although over 1300 exotic plants have been identified as invasive in the U.S., many of these species remain commonly sold by nurseries. This project aims to quantify the numbers and types of readily available invasive plants currently for sale in the U.S.

Nest Ectoparasite Technician - Warren Lab

INTRODUCTION: We are Aaron Grade and Kit Straley, PhD students in Dr. Paige Warren’s lab. We are an urban ecology lab based in the department of Environmental Conservation. We are seeking laboratory technicians in Fall 2018 for two avian urban ecology studies. Aaron‘s study is focused on the effects of perceived predation risk on House Wren nesting biology on an urban gradient. During summer field seasons, Aaron’s crew monitors House Wren nests in nest boxes on private homeowner lands.

Using zebrafish to understand the developmental origins of disease

The Timme-Laragy lab uses the zebrafish and cell culture to understand how embryonic exposure to pollutants affects embryonic development and later-life health outcomes. We have ongoing projects examining the effects of phthalates, perfluorinated compounds, and PCBs on pancreas and liver development, and are investigating toxicant effects on later-life metabolic diseases. We anchor these morphometric and metabolic outcomes with experiments probing the antioxidant defense system and the Nrf2 signaling pathway.

Suburban Bird Nest Dissections

Research in the Warren lab focuses on the impacts of urbanization on wildlife. Suburban development changes habitat structure, influences resource availability, and affects wildlife behavior. We are looking for research assistants to contribute to a project on bird nest structure and nesting materials. Nests from multiple bird species were collected from suburban forest fragments around Amherst as well as the Montague Sandplains. Nest dissection assistants will be responsible for dissecting bird nests and identifying and weighing their component materials.

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