SW13: Proposal Review

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Michael Shaughnessy on 08-12-2010 and tagged , ,

McGrath will observe the predator-prey relationship between the invasive American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) and native frogs of the western United States.  Plastic tanks will be used to monitor 4 native frog species and determine if the American bullfrog has a preference of size or species.  With the role of the American bullfrog more clearly understood, high-risk areas can be determined and control techniques can be implemented in those areas.

Arora proposes an experiment to explore one method of delaying cane toad (Bufo marinus) proliferation in invaded areas. This experiment involves using negative environmental stresses (including parasites and genetically modified male toads) to stem cane toad invasion rates. The purpose of Arora’s research is to find a means of delaying cane toad spread while research continues toward reversing cane toad invasion and damage.

Braxton’s pre-proposal focuses on whether meat ants can control the spread of the cane toad population in Australia. The study will also examine whether meat ants are harmful to native animals (especially native frogs). Different numbers of meat ants will be placed in various locations, and the resulting number of dead cane toads will be recorded and observed. If the meat ants can sustain themselves in the new environment and decrease cane toad population, they would be a help to the ecosystem in Australia.

Ferguson’s study will discuss whether the presence of submerged vegetation such as hydrilla increases the reproductive success of the northern snakehead. Pairs of northern snakeheads will be placed in habitats with and without vegetation to observe the success rate of reproduction. If this rate is significantly lower in the habitats without vegetation, it will be concluded that the nest plays a crucial role in the reproduction process. Therefore, the results of the study will help to evaluate the effectiveness of controlling northern snakehead by means of controlling hydrilla.

Our Committee has selected Katie Ferguson’s “Reproductive success of northern snakeheads with and without vegetation” to solicit a full proposal to our committee. As of now, the most effective way to eradicate, or at the very least control, the northern snakehead has been by poisoning the bodies of water that they have invaded. However, such an action kills all the species in the water. Ferguson proposes a new, significantly less destructive method of eradicating the northern snakehead. If Ferguson is able to conduct the tests needed to evaluate the question outlined in the Pre-Proposal and the results yield a favorable outcome, the way ecologists attempt to eradicate the northern snakehead could fundamentally change, for the better. This proposed method would solely target the northern snakehead and for the most part leave the native species unharmed, which is far better outcome than when poisons are used.

The one concern our committee has about your pre-proposal is that it will be conducted in a laboratory. There are many factors that go into successful reproduction in the wild, and many of these factors cannot be replicated in the laboratory. With that in mind, we recommend that in your full proposal you detail the ways in which you will make sure the test conditions closely mimic those found in the wild. We look forward to reading your full proposal in the near future.

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