All Spotlights » Student Summer Scholar Discovers Wildlife Research
This summer Danielle Bradke, a participant in the Student Summer Scholars Program (S3), was able to take the opportunity of a lifetime. “Through my participation in this program I learned that I really love working in wildlife research.” Bradke spent her summer in the Manistee National Forest on a research project involving the American marten. Specifically, Bradke looked at characteristics of the den sites selected by American marten and the survival of their offspring.
American marten are small forest carnivores in the weasel family (pictured). They were extirpated from Michigan's Lower Peninsula by the early 1900’s due to logging and fur trapping. In 1986, the US Forest Service and MI Department of Natural Resources reintroduced 36 martens into the Manistee National Forest.
Bradke’s project consisted of six female marten that were fitted with VHF radio collars. She was then able to track them to den sites, collect information on the dens, and put up motion sensor cameras to capture pictures of the female and her offspring. These cameras captured over 28,000 pictures of marten and helped identify and confirm 28 unique dens in live trees, dead trees, and one fallen log. An analysis of the data collected on den sites is being supplied to the US Forest service to inform their management of marten habitat in the forest and will give insight on the marten’s slow population recovery.
“The S3 program had a huge positive impact on my future. It allowed me to gain extensive field research experience and to be highly involved in the entire research process from beginning to end.” Bradke was one of twenty-two participants in the S3 2012 program. S3 is a competitive scholars program that provides funds for a student and faculty mentor to devote twelve weeks to a research and/or creative project during the spring/summer semester.
Through these grants and the mentorship of a faculty member, the S3 program offers a unique opportunity for undergraduate students to do hands-on, professional research and creative practice in their chosen field. “This puts me in a much better position for grad-school and taking on a thesis project,” Bradke acknowledges. “I was given the unique opportunity to collaborate with professors, GVSU graduate students and the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians on this project. S3 also helped me to improve my written and oral communication skills…and provided funds for me to present a poster of my research at the Wildlife Society Conference in Portland, Oregon.”
Students who are interested in learning more about the S3 program should visit http://www.gvsu.edu/ours/s3/ or contact the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship at (616) 331-8100.