Allison Duprey, environmental sciences major and marine sciences minor, and Andrew Zachman, environmental sciences major, experience new opportunities through hands-on fieldwork — right here, on Carolina’s campus.
Climate change affects the timing of spring leaf growth, insect activity, bird migration and breeding. Allen Hurlbert, associate professor in the biology department, leads undergraduate students in surveying arthropods, such as caterpillars, beetles and spiders, to see if plants, insects and birds all respond to climate change to the same degree.
Students like Carolina sophomore Allison Duprey and senior Andrew Zachman have been visiting the same trees every week in Chapel Hill and Raleigh to measure the abundance and size of arthropods. This data will be used to relate trends in arthropod populations to bird populations in the same areas.
The study is part of a citizen science project, called Caterpillars Count!, that encourages people across the country to collect their own surveys and contribute to the data collection. For Zachman, this program gives him a head start on his future career. “I think a lot of opportunities are going to stem from having research experience,” he says. “That’s the direction I want to go in so the earlier I can get started in doing research the better.”
Story by UNC Research