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UC Berkeley survey shows college campuses can make good bird havens
Date:7/24/2012

During her junior and senior years, Shultz participated in the Grinnell Resurvey of California wildlife conducted by the campus's Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, dug up the two previous bird surveys and decided to repeat them.

One survey was conducted by a museum researcher and one of the campus's earliest female scientists, Margaret Wythe, over a five-year period between 1913 and 1918. The other study was conducted by two graduate students, Thomas L. Rodgers and Charles G. Sibley, from 1938 to 1939, and was later published in The Condor. Sibley went on to become one of the country's most prominent ornithologists. He co-authored Phylogeny and Classification of the Birds and Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World, considered the bibles of bird classification, and was among the first to use DNA to establish avian relationships, Bowie said.

Shultz adopted Sibley and Rodgers' study design and laid out three similar routes through the western part of the campus, which she traversed 10 times per month between October and March, randomly choosing a route in the morning, at noon and in the evening. She spent about three hours per day for 60 days surveying campus birds.

"I definitely got some strange looks, standing there with my binoculars, rangefinder and clipboard, recording things, but I think Berkeley people are used to seeing weird stuff around the campus," Shultz said.

With data covering a 93-year period, Shultz and Bowie were able to make comparisons across time that are rare, Bowie said, since few researchers nearly a century ago took sufficiently detailed notes. The notes from both surveys were so specific that Shultz and Bowie were able to perfectly replicate the routes covered on campus. That was a legacy of zoologist Joseph Grinnell, museum director and field biologist extraordinaire, whose method of precise observation and annotation, the Grinnellian System, was adopted by Wythe, Rodgers, Sibley and many
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Contact: Robert Sanders
rsanders@berkeley.edu
510-643-6998
University of California - Berkeley
Source:Eurekalert  

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