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ES Student Profile
Anna Sommo '04
Portland Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Summer 2003 Forest Park
Portland Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Summer 2003
This summer, Anna am working in Forest Park, which, at 5,000 acres, is one of the largest urban parks in the world. However, due to the ubiquitous presence of invasive species such as English Ivy, the park administration has created deparments to deal with the threat. Anna bases her work out of the English Ivy headquarters, primely located within the park to capture the beauty of the surroundings and as a functional center for groups from schools, camps and work programs that wish to see the park, learn about invasive species (beyond just ivy) and participate in a service learning program. This program organizes volunteer efforts to aid the removal of English Ivy and other invasives throughout the park. Anna's job teams her with these groups, doing plant indentification and environmental education. She has been developing an exhibit of 24 invasive species with detailed photos, identification tips and eradication techniques. Additionally, Anna is organizing sets of native plant flash cards as part of her education activities.
Biodiversity Research Institute, Summer 2002
Loon Project, Rangeley Lakes area
The Mellon Stipend that I received during the summer of 2002 was
committed to a project of the Biodiversity Research Institute, a
non-profit group devoted to studying the lives of waterfowl and other
wildlife, and the effects of pollutants (mercury is their main concern)
on their reproductive health, longevity and behavior. The project that
I worked on during the months of July and August was loon research in
the Rangeley Lakes area. I helped five of BRI’s biologists cover the
extensive lakes system through daily survey and nightly capture. Loon
surveys included extensive observation: we spent time watching the
behavior of birds on the water, looking for territorial pairs, loners,
intruders, and chicks. We also kept a close watch on possible chick
predators, such as bald eagles and snapping turtles. Looking for nests
and eggs on the shoreline was another important part of surveying, as
this would give us an idea of the reproductive success of the pair.
Capturing loons for blood samples, banding and weight measurements can
only be done at night, when the vision of the birds is less acute.
Pairs who have or recently had chicks are very susceptible to the
distress calls of the young, and when a biologist can imitate that
call, the loons will come right to the net. Blood samples are taken for
mercury and other heavy metals that have accumulated over the past 2-3
months. Feather samples are collected to determine levels of heavy
metals during flightless periods. The birds are banded with completely
unique combinations of colored bands, as well as with an Inland
Fisheries and Wildlife numbered band. These will help with
identification of the bird during later surveys and if the bird is
recovered in the future. The final step of capture is weight
measurement, which helps determine the sex of the bird.