Carly Danoski ’20
"Salamander Diversity and Ecology at the Deputy Field Center and along the Monocacy Creek"
Major: Environmental Science
Hometown: Clarks Summit, PA
Project Advisor: Dr. Daniel Proud
Briefly describe your project.
I assessed and compared the diversity of salamanders at two different locations in the Lehigh Valley. My rural sampling location was the Deputy Field Center, a 65-acre wooded property donated to Moravian College that is located in Bangor, Pennsylvania. My urban sampling location was along the Monocacy Creek and Lehigh River in Bethlehem. Additionally, I used DNA extraction and nested PCR techniques in order to test the salamanders for a chytrid fungus that wipes out amphibian populations.
Describe the origin of your project
Dr. Proud and I worked together to come up with an idea that involved using the Deputy Field Center, as there has been little research done there thus far. I’m interested in terrestrial ecology and studying salamanders seemed like the perfect fit!
What’s the best part about working with your faculty mentor? What valuable insights have they brought to your project?
Dr. Proud is very knowledgeable about all things ecology and he really helped me to delve into a research project that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do otherwise. He was very patient with me while I learned to do molecular testing for the first time, which is also something I plan on using in the future for my honors project.
What has been your biggest obstacle so far?
My biggest physical obstacle was probably the variability of doing field work. I had to plan around weather and even when I was able to go into the field, it was often very hot and humid. However, my biggest research obstacle were my unexpected results. Ideally, I would have been able to analyze more of my data if I had received the results I expected.
What has been your biggest takeaway from this experience?
My SOAR project taught me how to properly plan and execute a research project. There are a lot of little details that go into the whole process, and being able to manage that gives me a greater sense of confidence for when I complete future research.
What was the result of your project?
I found a high diversity of salamanders at the Deputy Field Center compared to along the Monocacy Creek and Lehigh River. I found two different species of salamanders and nineteen individuals in total at the Deputy Field Center and no salamanders along the Monocacy. None of our skin samples from the salamanders tested positive for the chytrid fungus. Additionally, we now have a more comprehensive assessment of what species are present at the Deputy Field Center.
In your own words, how do you feel about being awarded this opportunity? Why should other students take advantage of the SOAR program at Moravian College?
I was very excited when I learned that I would have the opportunity to participate in SOAR, as it’s something I had wanted to do since I got to Moravian freshman year. After finishing up the summer, I can say it was a great experience and I gained a lot of valuable skills. I would recommend SOAR to anyone who’s not afraid to take initiative on starting a research project because it’s very rewarding.
Now that SOAR is over, do you plan to expand upon your research? If so, how?
While I don’t plan to continue my research on salamanders, I do plan on doing an honors project with Dr. Proud. I will be able to use some of the skills I gained from my SOAR project and carry that into my honors project.
Have you, or do you plan to present this research outside the SOAR presentations? If so, where?
I presented my research at the Landmark Conference over the summer at Elizabethtown where students from schools in our conference came together to give research talks and present posters. This was a cool opportunity to connect with different researchers and answer questions about my project, as well as learn about some of the interesting research going on at other schools. I not only got to share my research project, but I was able to improve my presentation and speaking skills as well.