The projects described below are well-suited for undergraduate students and could be completed over the course of a single academic quarter.
Climate Change: Species Vulnerability Assessment
Help us complete a climate change vulnerability assessment for the native species at Stanford! To complete this project you would select a taxonomic group and collect any existing information about species’ population size, species-level range, population-level range, whether Stanford’s population is located at the southern-most or lowest elevation within the species range, and the climatic niche breadth of the species (both temperature and precipitation). Based upon existing climate change research, it is reasonable to believe that the most vulnerable species to climate change will be those with a narrow climate niche and small populations sizes. Local populations within species ranges will be vulnerable to climate change if they are at the southern-most or lowest elevation edge of a species range. Based upon the information collected, species vulnerability will be ranked, and potential management interventions assessed. Conservation actions in support of species threatened by climate change may include translocations, habitat restorations, and alter ecosystem attributes (e.g. water supplementation, etc.).
Ecosystem Services: Host Plant and Nectar Source Phenological Assessment and Restoration Planning
In addition to pollinating agricultural crops, native pollinators are components of biodiverse and functioning native ecosystems – and their populations are declining. Native invertebrates rely upon both an availability of host plants and an abundance of nectar resources over time and space. To complete this project, you would evaluate several natural areas on Stanford lands targeted for restoration. You will use existing plant species lists and known bloom periods to evaluate the timing and abundance of nectar sources. The second component of the project is to then select plant species that will be seeded or planted at the restoration site in order to increase the abundance and extend or fill gaps in the availability of nectar sources over time.
Wildlife Conservation: Analysis of Wildlife Use of Creek Corridors
Large predatory mammals like mountain lions and badgers require large home ranges in order to find enough prey to survive. When urban development encroaches upon wildlands, home ranges become fragmented, and wildlife rely upon remaining habitat corridors to travel between patches of wildlands. Despite significant fragmentation by roads and ex-urban development, Stanford’s undeveloped lands near central campus are connected to the Santa Cruz Mountains through creek corridors. To complete this project, you would install and monitor wildlife cameras along San Francisquito and Los Trancos Creeks in order to discover the number of wildlife species and the frequency of local migrations.
Educational Outreach: Tell a Story About Conservation at Stanford!
The Conservation Program has lots of stories to share, but insufficient capacity to tell them. Helping us to get the word out encourages our community to participate in actions that are likely to steward our local environment. Using a medium of your choice (written, aural, visual art, music, etc.), work with conservation program staff to tell a story of conservation at Stanford. Some examples of stories we would love to share include the construction of the wildlife migration tunnels for California tiger salamanders under Junipero Serra Blvd, construction of wetlands for pond-breeding amphibians, and experimental work focused on restoration of California grasslands.