The summer of 2010 presented a unique opportunity for a group of students from Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport. Although many of our students express an interest in pursuing careers in environmental science and biology, most of our students have never experienced doing biological fieldwork. In cooperation with the Connecticut Audubon Society, a fieldwork experience was undertaken by four students under the direction of Dr. Tony Pappantoniou of the Math and Science Department of Housatonic Community College. The focus of this experience was a biological survey of streams located at the Roy and Margot Larsen Sanctuary.
The summer field experience had a dual purpose: 1) introduce a group of community college students to methods of fieldwork and 2) have the students collect data on stream fish populations. Student volunteers learned techniques of collecting and identifying fish and gathering the data a biologist would require to assess a fish population. Several different species of fish were collected, identified and photographed. A warm-water fish community populates the streams of the Larson Sanctuary. Fish species collected included: largemouth bass, pumpkinseed and bluegill sunfish, redfin pickerel and the american eel. Starting with our first fieldtrip in June and ending with our last trip in August, length data on largemouth bass was collected for population analysis. Data were collected on about 75 largemouth, all young-of-the-year, and it appears that there is a strong breeding population of largemouth at the sanctuary.
In addition to our fish collecting, students observed a variety of amphibians and reptiles that form part of the community at the Larsen Sanctuary. Red efts, green frogs (both adult and tadpole), spring peepers, american toads, garter snakes and painted turtles, all crossed our path as we walked through the streams and woods of the Larsen Sanctuary.
Fieldwork will continue during summer 2011, with old students coming back for a second summer and some new students joining in. This summer we are expanding our studies to include data on the turtle population(s) of the sanctuary. Opportunities like this offer students an experience collecting biological data with real world applications.
The student research team from HCC: Jennifer Guime, Michael Beletzkie, Melvin Gordils, Jason Van Fleet
I would like to thank Mr. Robert Martinez, President of Connecticut Audubon and Dr. Twan Leenders, Conservation Biologist, for their invaluable assistance and advice in creating this field experience for the students of Housatonic Community College.
Dr. Tony Pappantoniou
Assistant Professor of Biology
Housatonic Community College