The focus of my major, Conservation Ecology, combines aspects from Environmental Science, Environmental Biology and Ecology. I wanted to focus on the environment at the closest level and the relationships between everything that goes on within those ecosystems.
My applied project focused on five major threats facing the Common Loon. I chose to represent these threats by illustrating each one and trying to make them as dramatic as possible so they would resonate with viewers. I used black ink to illustrate the loon itself and only red/orange watercolor to highlight the threat within each. I really wanted to make clear how humans have impacted this species and the consequences of our actions on others. I enjoyed researching these threats and narrowing them down to just five was tricky, as there are many more that I was not able to represent. Conservation is a huge part of my major so I think it’s important for me to conduct this kind of research so I can be knowledgeable about species that reside locally.
My research article was in a way an expansion of my applied project. I again focused on threats facing the Common Loon. In this article, I expanded on what threats face each age group of loons, from chicks, to immature individuals, to adults. I also included more about natural threats than I did in my applied project, which was more about anthropogenic threats. It was interesting to this type of research on a species that I have had an interest in all my life. I enjoyed learning about its biology and behaviors and found quite a few things very surprising. I think doing this type of research is something that I will have to continue doing throughout my career, so being able to pull apart articles and demonstrate how this species thrives is important.
Both my applied project and research article largely contributed to my passion for conservation. Doing research on the biology, role and conservation status of species is something that I think is imperative to my future career. Knowing what issue treated certain species and what can be done to eradicate/lessen these threats is something I hope to participate in in the future.