Months of research and data gathering paid off for three North Harford High School seniors who, along with dozens of their classmates, presented their findings to the public during the Senior Capstone Gallery Walk at the school’s auditorium May 17.
Two of the students, Jacob Ramsey of Bel Air and Callum MacLellan of Abingdon, received mentoring information and advice from Aberdeen Proving Ground employees Scott English, a forester in the Natural Resources Branch of the Environmental Division in the Directorate of Public Works and Dr. John Leader, a DPW contractor and ORISE Faculty Research participant. Leader said research mentors will be needed in the coming school year and that those interested in providing worthwhile research experiences should contact English at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Senior Capstone Gallery Walk is part of the curriculum of the Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences magnet program at NHHS and culminates the school’s four-year program.
APG submerged aquatic vegetation & waterfowl harvest
Ramsey’s study was titled, “Correlation between submerged aquatic vegetation, or SAV, coverage and waterfowl harvested at Aberdeen Proving Ground.” He questioned to what extent submerged aquatic vegetation concentrations affect waterfowl harvests for APG hunting areas.
He said the purpose of the study was to determine if waterfowl of the Chesapeake Bay are found in areas of higher concentrations of SAV rather than areas with lower concentrations by analyzing harvest records from hunting areas over a 2-year time span.
“I thought it would be interesting to see if there was a correlation on APG,” Ramsey said. “I know a lot of people hunt there so I decided to see if SAV impacts certain locations more than others.”
The conclusion, he said, was that there was no significant correlation.
“But the data we received is very helpful. This kind of data can be used to control the duck population and in areas where they think the SAV is starting to go down they can harvest more ducks. It’s all about population control.”
Ramsey, 18, plans to attend trade school and seek a position as an electrician apprentice.
Game animal harvest density at APG
MacLellans’ study, “Analyzing game animal harvest density for APG,” questioned to what extent game animal harvest density is affected by habitat type of hunting areas on APG.
MacLellan, 18, said he is leaning toward a career in Environmental Science and plans to attend Harford Community College in the fall. He said he was intrigued by the research question and looked forward to gathering data with APG personnel.
“When I looked through it [the data] and saw the possibilities, I was hooked,” he said.
Basically, MacLellan said, he took APG hunting data and looked at specific hunting areas, mapped the harvest records and then combined them to identify trends.
The purpose of the study was to analyze the raw hunting data on habitats. The data was organized in hunting areas and the areas, likewise, organized by habitat. A geographical information system was used to display the data and identify trends. The results displayed which areas and which habitat were the most successful for game species. Trends showed that the highest harvest overall was in coastal areas, and the highest harvests by area were in forested marsh areas.
MacLellan said future studies can use this data as a starting point to research more specific ecological interactions within habitat types.
Environmental factors & shark migration
A third student with an APG tie was Alexa Ciboroski, the the stepdaughter of Ron Leet, a military retiree and a government civilian with the Program Executive Office, Command, Control and Communications-Tactical.
Ciboroski looked at “The effects of environmental factors on the migration of Oceanic Whitetip Sharks and Mako Sharks.” She questioned to what extent Oceanic Whitetip sharks and Mako sharks moving through heterogeneous environments are affected by environmental factors.
Ciboroski, 18, said she “went it alone” using mentoring information from the Guy Harvey Research Institute. Ciboroski holds Geospatial Technician I certification, is an ROTC cadet with Pennsylvania State University and holds FFA Greenhand chapter degrees.
Ciboroski said factors such as home range, movements and habitat selection must be considered to understand the life history and ecology of the species and to predict its response to environmental change.
Ciboroski tracked and monitored five tagged Mako sharks and five tagged Oceanic Whitetip sharks using satellite telemetry. All five Oceanic Whitetip sharks in the Bahamas/Cayman Island region stayed relatively close to the surface while the patterns of the Mako sharks in the Northern Atlantic region varied frequently. Data led to the conclusion that global warming has affected the region, causing Mako sharks to frequently change vertical migration patterns.
“I found in my correlation that Oceanic sharks stay around 200 meters down in the warmest waters, and Mako sharks on the other hand, migrate up and down the coast,” she said.
Ciboroski plans to attend Penn State full time to pursue a degree in Geographical Information Systems.