Researchers at Powdermill Nature Reserve, the environmental research center of Carnegie Museum of Natural History, are documenting the health of Western Pennsylvania’s flora and fauna with bird banding, long-term studies, and other key environmental research out of Rector Pa.
Those efforts will be bolstered thanks to a recent $700,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, which will further position Powdermill as an ecological research powerhouse of the Appalachian region. The grant will fund new technology like drone imagining and radio frequency “nanotags” to study and protect birds. The focal species groups that will be studied are birds, pollinators, salamanders, and forest trees.
Powdermill scientists are eager to use nanotag radio telemetry to improve their tracking of migratory birds, attaching tiny radio beacons to birds that will track their migration as they fly by special towers equipped with sensors.
The sensors will log the tagged birds in a central database, allowing scientists to track birds from South America to Canada without recapturing them. Since only about one in 1,000 birds banded at Powdermill are ever recaptured, the new technology is sure to improve the reserve’s data collection efforts.
“As this grant strengthens our scientific activities, Powdermill will accordingly improve its educational outreach regarding pressing environmental issues of interest to concerned citizens,” said Powdermill Director John Wenzel.
Check out Powdermill Nature Reserve’s Facebook page for beautiful images and snapshots of some of the important working happening there that will benefit the entire Western Pennsylvania region.