I am specifically focusing on white tailed deer. Data should be on number of white tailed deer pairs (or groups) that show up on the Lake Waban Boardwalk in August (for the data section). I will add those numbers in a minute
Final Project Components
The final project will contain four sections that connect to themes in our course:
Introduction: Describe the type of organism (mammal, bryophyte, mollusc, etc.), its habitat (what type of environment does it live in, and where globally), and any seasonality in the life patterns of the organism.
Physiology: Describe how the organism gets the energy it needs to live and grow and how the organism reproduces. If relevant/of interest, you can also talk about particular organ systems, for example plant vascular tissue or pulmonary circulation that apply to your particular organism.
Evolution: Describe at least one example of an adaptation within this particular organism that likely arose from natural selection. Link the adaptation to a specific explanation of how it increases the fitness (survival & reproduction) of the organism.
Ecology: Describe at least one example of how the organism interacts with another specific taxonomic group of organisms through mutualism, predation/herbivory, competition, etc. Describe whether this interaction benefits/has no effect/diminishes the fitness of your study organism.
Data presentation and interpretation: Produce at least one graph/figure using data about your organism that you aggregate from either of the two possible project data sources (or that you collect yourself if using the iNaturalist option). Your graph may be associated with any of the four preceding sections, and should be referenced within the text (i.e., describe a conclusion from your graph in the main text, referring to the figure).
Option 1 – Creatures on Campus: Animal use of Wellesley campus habitats from camera trap data
In this final project option, you will use camera trap data collected by researchers in the Paulson Ecology of Place Initiative at Wellesley College to study one particular species. Some options include squirrels, deer, mink, coyote, and many more.
Camera trap data have been collected at four locations on campus in fall, winter, and spring of 2020-2021, with methods about the cameras and site locations in this resource. It’s helpful to first take a look through the camera images to get a sense of what they look like and options for choosing a particular species to focus on. You can use this resource to help to identify animals that you see in the images. You will then identify a species and question of interest and use the camera data to code the images/videos to address your question.
For example, you might be interested in comparing when deer are present at the two locations, across the three seasons. You would look through the images, and record the dates for images that have deer at each location in a Google Sheet spreadsheet. From these data, you could make a graph that has month on the x-axis, and sightings on the y-axis, maybe with different colors for the two sites.
Or for another example, you might be interested in investigating whether squirrels appear in images individually, or with multiple squirrels in an image (maybe as a metric of squirrel-squirrel interactions) and whether this changes with season. You could code the images with the date when 1+ squirrels are present and whether it was just 1 squirrel or multiple squirrels. Then you could make a graph that has the month on the x-axis with squirrel sightings on the y-axis, and different colors for 1 or multiple squirrels.
You can absolutely be creative about this, and investigate one of your own questions, or build variations on the examples outlined above. The main point is to use the camera data to identify a species of focus for your four sections of investigation for the final project, and to use the camera data to produce a graph that helps to illustrate a concept from one of the final project sections.
Relevant Links: All of the links below are contained in a single Google Drive folder.
Camera Trap Data
Trail Camera Species Identification Tips and Resources provides resources and ideas for identifying animals in trail camera photos/videos
The Best Camera Trap Media spreadsheet shows a small selection of images and files and can help you choose a species or taxonomic group to study.
Camera Trap Methods includes information on camera settings, site descriptions, and file naming and organization methods.
The Camera Trap Data Overview spreadsheet can help you navigate efficiently through the camera trap data

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