Cassandra Smith

Cassandra graduated in May, 2013 with a degree in Environmental Studies and a minor in GIS.  Although an alum, Cassandra is still active in the lab, explored latitudinal variation in body size of Black-capped Chickadees.  This was a project she started in the Advanced Field Methods in Avian Ecology and Conservation class and has continued.   While at UNE she worked on a project that incorporated GPS coordinates of individual squirrels found around campus in Project Squirrel.  We live-trapped squirrels, assessed their sex, measured their body morphology, ear-tagged them, and fit them with radio collars.  With radio telemetry and mark-recapture techniques, we tracked movements of individual squirrels across the Biddeford Campus. With a total of twenty three individuals, I used a Geographic Information System (GIS, ArcMap 10), incorporating these GPS coordinates for each time we located a given squirrel, to assess their home range size. In addition to their total home range size, I am determined where they spent 50%, 75%, and 95% of their time (e.g. kernel density). I determined how the squirrels overall movements differ based on their sex (see figure below) and body size, and how their movements differed among the seasons. With this in mind, I have also created a GIS user guide for this process and hope that future students will have the same interest I had in moving forward with this project and utilizing GIS for homerange research. As time goes on, GICassandra SmithS is continuing to become such a useful variety of tools, particularly in the environmental field, and is a tool set I highly recommend all environmental students get involved with!