In 1981 Five Valleys Audubon Society began a program of awarding small amounts of money to fund small research projects as a means of giving younger and less experienced students a way to get started in field research. Originally called the Field Biology Research Awards, in 1992 the name of the program was changed to the Philip L. Wright Research Awards in recognition of Dr. Wright’s contributions to science, Montana, and Missoula. In 33 years, 68 university and high school students have received a total of $29,392.50 from the program. While most of these small studies have been carried out within Montana, some have been as far afield as Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Central America, and Southeast Asia.
The awards committee received eight proposals in 2013. Six undergraduates and two graduate students proposed studies of birds (3), mammals (2), insects (1), fish (1), and plants (1). We made the following awards:
- Kari Eneas, a senior, $875 to survey the Mission Valley for the presence of Barn Owls and analyze their pellets.
- James Goerz, a senior, $875 to make a comparison of the vegetational structure of snowshoe hare mortality and survival sites in western Montana.
- Cody Rasmussen-Ivey, a senior, $875 for assessing the catalytic effects of climate change: the transitive influence of mountain pine beetle epidemics on high elevation stream production in western Montana.
The recipients have been invited to report how they used the grants and the results of their investigations at a Five Valleys Audubon meeting early in 2014.
by Bill Gabriel