Field Experience

Watershed Restoration  

Currently I work as a field employee of Stream Dynamics; a company that specializes in stream and wetland restoration. Watershed restoration is key to maintaining overall healthy wildlife habitats and thriving ecosystems. Restoration projects led by Stream Dynamics take place in a multitude of wilderness areas within the southwest. I could not think of anything else I would rather be doing than to spend my time in the outdoors working for wildlife and the environment.

 

Gained Approval of The Endangered Species Act

Worked with the Defenders of Wildlife representative of New Mexico towards achieving El Paso City Council approval of a Resolution supporting the Endangered Species Act. Approval helps to prevent extinctions and promote the recovery of endangered species. The Endangered Species Act also protects people by protecting natural resources and promoting healthy landscapes in which wildlife need to thrive. Through our efforts, in the Spring of 2016, we gained City approval and support for the Act. Success!

 

Returning the Wolf to West Texas Education Initiative

Participated in the efforts of Sierra Club executive member and others to raise awareness about the importance of the Mexican Gray Wolf in West Texas. Wolves have been missing from the wilds of Texas now for nearly 45 years. We are working to help restore this essential predator to its natural ecoregions of Texas. For more information visit the Return of the Wolf to Texas Education Initiative page. I have also taken part in a volunteer project with WildEarth Guardians in restoring Mexican Gray wolf habitat within the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico.

 

Wildlife Rescue

Provide regular volunteer service for a local Wildlife Rescue. The rescue features many bird species including ducks, geese, painted turtles, hummingbirds, mourning doves, white wing doves, egrets and even emus! In a single spring and summer more than 100 baby, injured and malnourished birds are saved at the rescue. Work duties include feeding and monitoring the health of birds, cleaning aviaries, providing fresh water regularly to the birds and more. The Wildlife Rescue is founded and maintained by Licensed Rehabilitator, Dr. Carol Miller.  If you would like to learn more or would like to support the Wildlife Rescue, you may send a donation via PayPal using email: cmiller@utep.edu

 

Indio Mountains Field Research Station 

Flat-top mountain. View from Indio Ranch headquarters.

The majority of my field experience took place at the Indio Mountains Research Station (IMRS) is located in Hudspeth County, Texas. It is located in the northern Chihuahuan desert and is characterized as typical desert shrub-land containing numerous rocky arroyos.

During my time there, I conducted an research project which involved recording the frequency of mammal sightings within selected arroyos throughout the station. The frequency of sightings in arroyos was compared to a previous project in which the frequency of mammal sightings was recorded at various water bodies throughout the area. The comparison provided preliminary occupancy patterns of wildlife within the Indio Ranch Mountains.

A selected arroyo for remote photography study within IMRS

Sightings were recorded with the aid of remote motion sensor photography. Though remote photography was used as primary data, animal tracks were also recorded and included in the project findings. This data can be made available to future researchers who wish to focus on mammal studies within the Indio Mountains Research Station.

Documented species from most to least frequently observed in this study, included Barbary Sheep (Ammortagus lervia), Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus), Collard Peccary (Pecari tajacu), Coyote (Canis latrans), Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), Bobcat (Lynx rufus), and Mountain Lion (Puma concolor).

Assistance in Other Field Research Projects at Indio:

While working at the research station, I regularly assisted other researchers with other wildlife projects. These projects included observational or hands on assistance of various wildlife including lizards, snakes, birds, and invertebrates.

I often assisted in an ongoing rattlesnake tracking project under the watchful eye of Biologist Dr. Mata-Silva and Dr. Johnson of the University of Texas at El Paso. The project oftentimes involved nighttime hiking to locate snakes. The species’ in Mata-Silva’s on-going research included both venomous and non-venomous snakes such as Crotalus spp.; Bogertophis sp.; Diadophis sp.; Pituouphis sp.; Salvadora sp.; Sonora sp.; Thamnophis sp.; Hypsiglena sp.; and many others.

Another wildlife project I assisted in was a project led by William Lukefahr involved collecting primarily Aspidoscelis spp. (Whiptail lizards) from pit-fall traps with the occasional occurrence of Phrynosoma spp.; Cophosaurus texanus; Uta stansburiana, Urosaurus ornatus, Coleonyx brevix, and Crotaphytus collaris. Mr. Lukefahr was studying ectoparasitic loads of Aspidoscelis spp.

In another project I assisted a fellow colleague in capturing Urosaurus ornatus; the common Tree Lizard. These captures took place in various times of the day where they were often found basking out in the sun on rock out-croppings.

I also occasionally assisted in bird surveys which involved identifying bird species in different locations throughout the research area. This was accomplished by listening to calls, photography, and guidebooks.

 

The Greenbaum Herpetology Lab

I worked as an undergrad assistant in the Herpetology lab at the University of Texas at El Paso under the guidance and mentorship of Dr. Eli Greenbaum. While there I completed a project dealing with Afrixalus treefrogs. The project involved recording detailed morphological features and measurements of the exotic African treefrog species Afrixalus laevis. Recorded data was to aid in later research.  Though my time at the lab was brief I remain grateful for Dr. Greenbaum for allowing me the opportunity.

 

A Biologist Amongst An Archeology Crew

Archeology Field School CaveIn the summer of 2011 I took part in an archeological investigation as a student assistant at the Sierra Diablo Cave in the Sierra Diablo Mountains in Hudspeth, County Texas. The cave is situated near the 32,000-acre Circle Ranch which is privately maintained with the purpose to restore habitat to the delicate high-desert ecosystem. During the investigation, the archeology team excavated over 100 specimens of various objects each week.  As the only student biologist among the archeologist crew, I was especially by fascinated by the recovered flora and fauna artifacts. Artifacts from the cave suggested possible human habitation in far-west Texas approximately 35,000 years ago. Participation in archeological excavations required 8 hours of in-cave excavations per day, 6 days per week.

You can read more about the cave site at the Circle Ranch here: Circle Ranch Archeology or Circle Ranch Indian Cave

 

 

 

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