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K-State Today

January 18, 2017

Science on Tap: How Birds Choose Habitats — A Landscape Perspective

Submitted by Michi Tobler

Held in a relaxed setting on the fourth Wednesday of the month — January through April — Science on Tap features a brief, informal presentation by a K-State scientist followed by lively conversation. The goal is to build our community's enthusiasm for science in a fun and unique way. Science on Tap is organized through a partnership with the Graduate School, the Center for Engagement and Community Development, Sunset Zoo, and Tallgrass Tap House.

The free, interactive program begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18, at Tallgrass Tap House, 320 Poyntz Ave. Be sure to let the Tap House staff know you are there for Science on Tap.

This month's featured guest and topic: Land managers make conservation decisions based on our understanding of animals and their habitat choices. However, our current understanding only provides half the picture. Animals select habitats by making a series of choices centered around obtaining food, raising offspring and taking shelter. It remains unclear how animals perceive habitats and make choices from a landscape perspective. Improving our understanding of habitat selection behavior is critical to protecting and developing habitats in areas known to be favored by declining species. Join master's student Mark Herse in a discussion about key concepts associated with habitat selection as his research helps us advance our current understanding of animal behavior.

Originally from Chicago, Herse studied wildlife ecology at Montana State University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in 2010. After completing his undergraduate degree, Herse worked as a field assistant for five years on a variety of wildlife research projects across the U.S. During this time, he developed a special interest in bird ecology while studying iconic species such as the greater prairie chicken, red-cockaded woodpecker, and Northern spotted owl. Herse is currently working toward a Master of Science degree at K-State, where his research is focused on understanding how landscape characteristics influence habitat selection behavior of declining grassland birds.

Other upcoming dates

  • Feb. 15
  • March 15
  • April 19

Note that each Science on Tap will feature different topics so community members will learn something new each time they attend.

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