Wildlife Ecology Research

Department of Biology Students in front of a truck

Several Biology students spent 6 weeks this summer camping in Alabama's Talladega National Forest while learning how to conduct wildlife ecology research under the tutelage of Dr. Andrew Edelman. This research, supported by the UWG Biology department, COSM, SRAP, and ORSP, examines native wildlife's response to pine forest restoration. The students endured ticks, chiggers, frequent deluges, and hot, humid weather all in the pursuit of valuable experience in research design, capturing and handling small mammals, and measuring wildlife habitat. The students in the picture above are, from left to right, Ty Sprayberry, Amy Hernandez, and Josh Hubbell.

To learn more about Dr. Edelman's Research Lab visit sites.google.com/site/andrewjedelman/

Abstract of research:

Longleaf pine forests of the Southeastern United States are a unique ecosystem maintained by frequent, low-intensity fire. Due to land use changes and fire suppression, however, they currently occupy only 5% of their historic range. Of particular concern are the mountain longleaf pine forests that are restricted to higher elevations of northern Georgia and Alabama. Mountain longleaf pine forests require low-intensity fires every 1-3 years to maintain their open, park-like savannahs. Without frequent fires, these forests gradually convert to mixed hardwood forests that are characterized by dense understory growth and decidious trees. While response of vegetation to prescribed fire and thinning has been well documented throughout longleaf pine ecosystems, the impacts on animal communities are less well known. The prevailing assumption is that prescribed fire and thinning is beneficial to wildlife, but individual species likely vary in their response to these management practices. Dr. Edelman's research lab is actively studying the effect of fire-based restoration on terrestrial vertebrates in mountain longleaf pine forests. Specifically, they are examining how the abundance and diversity of small mammals and mesocarnivores respond to different prescribed fire regimes in Alabama’s Talladega National Forest.