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Maria Manz '18

"Painted Turtle Inter-pond Movement, and Nest Disturbances"

Major & Minor: Environmental Science
Hometown: Titusville, New Jersey
Project Advisor(s): Dr. Kuserk

Tell us about your research. 

Our project was aimed to provide significant data that painted turtles in the Lehigh Gap Nature Center move between Wood Duck, Kingfisher and Mallard ponds in order to push for land conservation to reduce anthropogenic destruction on the species. We conducted research to determine whether or not the biggest threat of painted turtle nests are anthropogenic disturbances.

How did it materialize? (E.g., did you pitch the idea and choose a
faculty member, or did they come to you with an idea?)

Dr. Kuserk came to me with the idea as a follow up to Shelby’ Does honors thesis.

What was the best part about working with your faculty advisor? What valuable insights did they bring to the research process?

Doing work with an experienced faculty member was very rewarding because I was able to adopt many different methods for dealing with challenges, or obstacles, that come along with doing environmental research.

 What was your biggest obstacle?

Our biggest obstacle was definitely equipment failure, such as batteries dying or trail cameras not working properly, as well as the show window of time we had.

What was your biggest takeaway from this experience?

SOAR has taught me that all research is significant, regardless of how small the project is, and can benefit many different aspects of society and the world we live in. 

What was the result of your research? 

We found that there is a strong possibility of painted turtle inter-pond movement, and we are able to speculate that majority of nest disturbances are natural predators. 

Now that SOAR is over, do you plan to expand upon your research? If so, where would you like to see it go?

I am picking up a different research project to build an honors thesis this upcoming year, but I would love for another student to pick up where I left study and expand upon it. I believe that there is a lot more for us to learn from this study and that there is conclusive data for both aspects of the project that can lead to land preservation. I would also love to help them out in any way possible.