Alyssa's Grassland Bird Research

$2,350 of $4,780 goal

Raised by 34 people in 1 month

It has been my dream since I was a young child to work with wildlife--and now that I'm pursuing that dream, I couldn't be happier! But funding The Dream can be difficult, which is why I'm asking for your help.
As a master's student at the University of Arkansas, starting at the end of April 2017, my research will compare nesting success of grassland/prairie birds between restored (newly created) sites and remnant (historic) sites. This is an important topic in "birdology" because grassland birds have declined more than any other group of birds in North America. Why? A huge factor is the conversion of grasslands to crop fields and pastures for cattle, resulting in a 66-99% loss of native grasslands from the pre-settlement era.

But who cares about prairies and birds? You should. We all should! Grasslands provide ecological services such as water filtration, fertile soil, and carbon sequestration--and carbon dioxide is one of the leading causes of climate change. They also have economic value in ecotourism/wildlife-viewing and bird-hunting industries. Grassland birds help maintain these services that prairies give us.

So to recreate this endangered habitat, biologists across the country have been restoring grasslands. Previous studies have found that the number and diversity of grassland birds are similar between restored and remnant sites, but how productive are they for nesting birds? No one really knows, and that's where I come in! Nesting success is critical to increasing the population size for these declining birds.

I've applied to nine grants and will apply to a couple more, and while I have received some funding, I haven't received nearly enough to conduct my research. Here's the breakdown of my budget:

Camera Equipment (to measure nesting success)--$4,780; it includes materials needed for 10 setups, like cameras ($120 each), batteries (2 per camera, $80 each) and battery chargers ($120 each), memory cards, tripods, wiring, and waterproof cases

Any additional funding I receive will go towards either the 2018 field season or towards a side-project looking at birds using restored and remnant prairies outside of the nesting season.

I know how expensive the camera equipment is. Even having six or seven setups would be wonderful. Ten dollars could be a difference between having a fully operating camera setup and not having one at all.

Thank you so much guys!

*Video by Lang Elliott 
*Grasshopper Sparrow nest photo by Alyssa DeRubeis
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Update 1
Posted by Alyssa DeRubeis
26 days ago
4/4/17: Great news! After discussing the camera setup with another graduate student, I realized that the camera setups are a little cheaper than I had originally thought. So I updated the price here. While I do not have a lot of funding, I decided that the funding I DO have should be able to cover the travel reimbursements entirely, so I took that out of my goal. After all the changes, we are now about 35% of the way to my goal! Thank you so much guys! With your help I am now able to purchase three camera setups!
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$2,350 of $4,780 goal

Raised by 34 people in 1 month
Created March 21, 2017
Adrienne Richardson
6 days ago

I love black-capped chickadees

7 days ago
Nancy Felker
12 days ago
Hannah White
12 days ago

Good luck, Alyssia! Love me some grassland birdies. You are da bomb.

Maureen Walsh
12 days ago
Jeff Coker
15 days ago

Gambel's Quail in the desert SW of SE AZ ... read/heard about this project on the BirdChick podcast. Good Luck! Look forward to hearing how it turns out.

Craig Mandel
19 days ago

Looks like a great project.

Melissa Bayert
22 days ago

Alyssa, I love you and am so proud of you for going after your dreams!!

Richard Hall
26 days ago
Holly Childs
27 days ago
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