Powdermill Nature Reserve

Student Research  maria student res

Powdermill Nature Reserve is committed to promoting quality environmental education. Several internships have been established for college-age students to take active roles in the research and education programs on the Reserve, and student projects are always welcome. For more information on doing student research, please contact us

Louisiana Waterthrush 

Continuing the research on Louisiana Waterthrush (LOWA) begun by Robert Mulvihill in 1996, Maria Paulino and Danilo Mejila follow the progress of the species’ viability on two streams at Powdermill. Nest searching and color banding each bird before it fledges are part of the daily research that Maria and Danilo carried out in two-mile sections of the study site. An obligate riparian species, the feathered trout is an excellent bioindicator of stream quality. Its existence depends on the availability of an aquatic macroinvertebrate food supply which in turn depends on pH neutral water unpolluted by acid mine drainage, as is found in Powdermill Run.

This project was a collaborative effort with the National Aviary and was overseen by Dr. Steve Latta, Assistant Director of Conservation and Field Research at the Aviary.

Photo: Maria Paulino and Danilo Mejila search the Powdermill streamside for Louisiana waterthrush nesting sites.

Wood Thrush 

Research during 2003–2004 by Felicity Newell focused on the consequences of forest fragmentation for the wood thrush, a species of conservation concern in Pennsylvania. wood thrush research 

Initiated as a senior tutorial at Chatham College in Pittsburgh with Dr. Mary Kostalos, Felicity received the Hall/Mayfield Award from the Wilson Ornithological Society to continue field work. She examined effects of nest placement on Wood Thrush nest success across a gradient from urban to contiguous forest. Undisturbed forest at Powdermill Nature Reserve was compared to six urban and suburban parks in and around the city of Pittsburgh. Results of this study suggest that low wood thrush nests in dense understory may be vulnerable to predation along the forest edge. However, the exact mechanisms leading to this association remain unknown. For more information see the published article in Wilson Journal of Ornithology 119:693–702.

In addition, Felicity has been involved in a range of avian research at Powdermill including examining the effects of stream acidification on Louisiana waterthrush breeding ecology and long-term avian monitoring with the bird banding program. 

More info on OSU's Terrestrial Wildlife Ecology Laboratory: http://twel.osu.edu/index.html 

Rea Internship 

Powdermill provides an annual grant in honor of William and Ingrid Rea to a graduate student wishing to conduct field research in any area of ecology at the reserve. The reserve has roughly 1,000 ha of mature mixed oak-maple forest, fallow fields, and several streams.  Hungry_WOTH nest Felicity Jan 

The proposed budget should not exceed $6,000 including housing at Powdermill, travel, equipment, and living expenses. Applicants should send a proposal (maximum 5 pages) including a timeline, budget, and CV, preferably by email or hard copy to: Rea Internship, Powdermill Nature Reserve, 1847 Route 381, Rector, PA 15677. Questions prior to submission are welcome.

The proposal should emphasize the questions or concepts under investigation and describe methods in sufficient detail to assess their viability at Powdermill. Applicants should be enrolled graduate students and the project approved by a major advisor as part of thesis or dissertation research. Projects incorporating Powdermill into multi-site comparisons or multi-year projects are welcome.

As a graduate student at Ohio State University Department of Natural Resources, Annie Lindsay was the 2004 recipient of the Rea Internship in Applied Ecology. She worked on the application of GIS-based technology to establish anniedistributional information for use in the 2nd Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlas. Her research paper, Ground-truthing GIS Generated Habitat Models for Use During the 2nd Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlas, focuses on five bird species known to nest in Pennsylvania and assesses their actual distribution in the expected habitat. The results of her study are a resource which is applied by hundreds of Atlas volunteers as the use of GPS devices becomes more widespread. Annie continues avian research in a number of offsite locations in the US, collecting molt data for future study at Powdermill Avian Research Center, where she has been associated with bird banding, bioacoustic studies, and other research since 1999. More info: http://twel.osu.edu/projects/Lindsay.html