Conservation Practice Teams deepen skills and knowledge, build professional networks, and help realize career paths.

What makes a team? 2-4 Conservation Scholars from the same cohort working with a faculty mentor who provides academic support and oversight, and a conservation professional who makes the real-world link to the agency or NGO sponsoring the project. Team projects put DDCSP scholars at the boundary between research and conservation practice, and they capitalize on the different strengths of academics, conservationists, and DDCSP scholars. Working within both of these cultures is the type of training that tomorrow’s conservation leaders need. Scholar will work on issues that broaden their skills and their networks.

All projects:

  • Highlight a connection between conservation and community.
  • Emphasize at least one of the four themes: Ecosytems, Climate, Food, and Water.
  • Result in a product that benefits the partnering organization.

All teams will be supported by tailored workshops in the 1st and 5th weeks that focus on project-specific methodologies, and that help develop project management, collaborative leadership, and science communication skills.

Conservation Practice Team Projects

Bats and Biodiversity
2014 DDCSP scholars, Moses Coulee working with Ph.D candidate, Rochelle Kelly

Urban Ecosystem Services

Does every community enjoy the same benefits? Are there winners and losers? This project is multi-layered, with each team focusing on a different service, and working with a different organization or agency. In 2015, teams will focus on pollination.

We’re talking to:

  • The Urban Pollination Project, a citizen science project dedicated to measuring pollination services in urban environments.
  • Scott Behmer at Seattle Community Farms, Yun Pitre the South Region Seattle Community Coordinator, and Seattle Tilth, people and NGOs with a mission of bringing the farm to the city.
  • Faculty mentors in the UW Bothell, School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Martha Groom and Jin-Kyu Jung who work at the intersection of plant communities, pollinators, and urban environmental mapping.
  • Forterra, the largest conservation and community-building organization in the Northwest; an NGO committed to highlighting and preserving urban ecosystem services.

Project Abstract:This project will map pollinator and people activity across landscape features in urban and rural areas to determine how community gardens influence the local ecology and the local community. Scholars will capture citizens’ involvement in community gardening, as well as their perceptions of community gardens and urban conservation efforts. Scholars will also trap, identify, and quantify pollinators – both native and introduced – and examine fruiting success of key urban garden crops. Project data will help inform how to make community gardens more effective in building community around greening urban areas, as well as address food production concerns.

Scholar Skills and Knowledge to be Acquired: Field methods and experimental design, data collection and analysis, survey design, application and analysis, GIS-based landscape analysis, community outreach and organizing skills.

Potential Products: An on-line GIS map featuring intersection hotspots of pollinators, people, and plants.

UrbanGardensPollinatorPatch copy
Saloni Dagli and Robin Chakrabarti are analyzing pollinators in this community garden in West Seattle. 508DD0116

Wolf Recovery in the Pacific Northwest

Are they some of the last large wild animals helping to shape healthy forest systems or dangerous animals that threaten ranching and farming communities? And how do the values and ideological set points of the government agencies, conservation organizations and communities involved in wolf recovery set the stage for success or failure?

We’re talking to:

  • Faculty mentors in the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, including Stanley Asah, who studies how communities and organizations understand and interact with nature, Aaron Wirsing, an ecologist who studies fear in predator-prey relationships, John Marzluff, a conservation and wildlife scientist working throughout Western States ecosystems; and Rob Wielgus of Washington State University, who studies the effects of wolves on livestock.
  • WA Department of Fish and Wildlife, the lead state agency stewarding and conserving Washington’s wildlife.
  • Wolf Haven International, an NGO dedicated to preserving and sustaining wild wolf populations.
  • Washington Cattlemen’s Association and the Cattle Producers of Washington, two industry associations whose members feel the impacts of a growing wolf population up close and personal.
  • Jen Watkins at Conservation Northwest, an NGO committed to helping plan and implement wildlife corridors for NW species.

Societal and Management Perspectives Project Abstract: Wolf re-introduction, like many conservation issues, is a contentious topic – and there are a variety of stakeholders involved. What should the responsible state agency do? This project will use a qualitative approach, including stakeholder interviews, to examine wolf recovery as a function of the interests, micro-cultures and identities of key stakeholders and their organizations. Scholars will visit and talk to folks at Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, and will make interview excursions to the wild lands of Eastern Washington where wolves are both celebrated and cursed.

Scholar Skills and Knowledge to be Acquired: Survey and interview design and practice, computer-assisted telephone interview moderation, qualitative data processing and analyses, occupational and organizational psychology.

Potential Products: A concept map featuring overlap space between stakeholders.

Ecological and Livestock Effects Project Abstract: Large carnivores are declining globally, sparking debate about the ecological effects and ecosystem services that may be lost with them. At the same time, efforts to promote predator recovery have raised very real concerns about destruction of livestock and human health and safety. Based in the town of Republic, at the northern boundary of the Colville Confederated Tribes (CCT) reservation, scholars will become part of an ongoing study – the ‘Washington Wolf Project’ – quantifying mortality of mule deer and livestock in the Okanogan highlands of northeastern Washington. Scholars will be tracking radio-collared fawns and/or cattle, and collecting data at kill sites. As a group, students will take lead roles on one of several possible independent projects:

  • Testing whether mule deer hide newborn fawns in different areas depending on the presence of wolves;
  • Characterizing predator diet (yes, more poop analyses);
  • GIS mapping of fawn kills by different predators;
  • Measuring differences in prey defensive behavior in areas with and without wolves;
  • Designing outreach materials to help inform the public about impacts of wolves.

Scholar Skills and Knowledge to be Acquired: Radio-telemetry, behavioral ecology, ecological research design, public speaking, social media.

Potential Products: A GIS map of predator and prey biodiversity and behavior; social media or other web-based outreach materials.

Bat biodiversity
Stephen collecting data on bat biodiversity in the San Juan Islands with Rochelle Kelly. Photo by Joseph Eusebio

Bat Conservation Across the U.S.

Faced with local extinction due to white nose syndrome, a fungus that may be transmitted by humans, there’s a race on to find out the status of bat species in the Pacific Northwest. Does anybody care? Why do some communities think about bats as helpful insectivores keeping down pest populations while other communities conjure up visions of vampires, rabies, and even ebola?

We’re talking to:

  • The UW Bat Conservation Team headed by Sharlene Santana, a faculty member in the Biology Department, and curator of mammals at the Burke Museum of Natural History.
  • Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the lead state agency stewarding and conserving Washington’s wildlife.
  • Fish and Wildlife Service, the lead federal agency stewarding and conserving America’s wildlife.
  • The San Juan County Landbank, a local NGO dedicated to preserving natural systems in the fragile and arid archipelago ecosystem.

Project Abstract: This project will use a variety of techniques to search out and survey the bats of the San Juan Islands as a function of the quality of the local environment. Scholars will collect and analyze bat species richness and abundance across the archipelago. Field-based techniques include: mist-netting for bats, night sky surveys, and recording echolocation calls; as well as collecting associated environmental data. Scholars will assist researchers in the collection of fecal samples (that’s right – scat analyses) and tissue samples (rabies vaccination series needed). Linked outreach efforts with a local land preservation organization, the San Juan County Landbank, may involve the design and delivery of a public “batwalk” at Landbank preserve as well as developing and posting a web-based guide to PNW bats.

Scholar Skills and Knowledge to be Acquired: Ecological research design, field methods for mist netting bats, passive acoustic surveys, data management and analyses, science communication, and public speaking.

Potential Products: Design and delivery of “batwalks;” a web-based guide to PNW bats.

Malayshia Lumpkin and Robin Chakrabarti work on their GIS analysis. 508DD0264
Malayshia Lumpkin and Robin Chakrabarti work on their GIS analysis. 508DD0264

Sustainable Biofuels in the U.S.

Are biofuels part of the green revolution allowing the Pacific Northwest to simultaneously invest in fast-growing trees, cleaner energy, and more native forest protection? Or are biofuels the latest attempt to place a loud, smelly industry in small poor communities? Who wins and who looses?

We’re talking to:

  • Faculty mentors in the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. Stanley Asah who studies community and organizational psychology, and Jyotsna Krishnakumar and Nabin Baral from the Human Dimensions of Natural Resource Management Lab.
  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the federal agency under US Department of Agriculture that is responsible for research, education and extension to solve societal challenges.
  • The Washington Farm Labor Association, a trade group representing the workers.

Project Abstract: Society is starting to seriously invest in alternative cleaner forms of energy of which biofuels from trees are a viable option. But, the success of this fledgling industry depends heavily how society perceives the social impact and feasibility of the industry and its services. Scholars will be based in Seattle, and will travel to regions of the Northwestern states housing biofuel plantations and refineries. Field methods will include participation observation, surveys, and interviews to assess individual and community values and perceptions regarding the biofuel industry. A potential economic mapping analysis will disclose where the industry is located, and whether the tree farms and processing plants have the same neighbors. The goal of the project is a better understanding of people’s feelings and thoughts as a precursor to designing and administering a more socially, culturally, and publicly acceptable sustainable biofuels system for the Pacific Northwest.

Scholar Skills and Knowledge to be Acquired: Survey and interview design and practice, computer-assisted telephone interview moderation, qualitative data processing and analyses, GIS-based landscape and economic analysis.

Potential Products: Short paper outlining the key issues encouraging (or preventing) successful establishment of the biofuels industry.

Wildlife on the Coastal Margins

The Quinault Tribe has stewarded their land for many thousands of years, with a combination of ancient and modern techniques that provide a rich storehouse of information. How does the tribe manage large carnivores, wild fish, and forest habitats even as they seek to practice sustainable forestry and ecosystem management?

We’re talking to:

  • Quinault Department of Natural Resources personnel Dave Bingaman (Environmental Protection), Daniel Ravenel (Wildlife), and Joe Schumacker (Fisheries).

Project Abstract: This project exposes students to a wide range of activities and techniques needed to manage wildlife and wildlands in some of the most pristine wilderness in Washington State. Scholars will be based in Taholah, Washington and will:

  • Assist in a cougar prey selection study focused on the kill sites of local cats. Data collection will include prey species identification, age, sex and body condition; and vegetation and environmental measurements at kill sites.
  • Assist in a black bear DNA hair snare study focused on mapping the home ranges of resident bears. Scholars will set up black bear hair snare grids and check them regularly for DNA samples.
  • Assist in a climate risk assessment study conducted in four watersheds across the Quinault Indian Reservation. Scholars will focus on stream temperatures and will deploy, monitor and retrieve thermistors, participate in study design, and assist in data analysis.
  • Assist in fish presence/absence studies to assess the effectiveness of barrier removal projects, including snorkel surveys (warning! the water is cold) and data analysis.

Scholar Skills and Knowledge to be Acquired: Field data collection in terrestrial and stream environments, radio-tracking, GPS-GIS, data analysis.

Potential Products: Authorship on wildlife and fish habitat reports presented to the tribal government.

Mount Rainier (39)

Corridors in Cascadia

Salmon, grizzlies, and wolverines are all on the move in the Northwest, particularly as the climate is changing. Will corridors help? Or will they only deliver big wild animals into the backyards of rural communities? How does a changing climate effect the recovery status certain species?

We’re talking to:

  • Jen Watkins and Alison Huyett at Conservation NW, an NGO dedicated to keeping the Northwest wild by helping to plan and implement corridors for NW species by partnering with communities and agencies using the newest science in wildlife management and climate change adaptation across an increasingly crowded landscape.
  • The Cascadia Partner Forum, a trans-boundary group of NGO, agency, academic, foundation, and independent conservation professionals dedicated to working with Cascadia communities and conservation cooperatives to build the adaptive capacity needed to sustain this most wild of ecosystems.

Project Abstract: Based out of the Conservation NW Seattle office, scholars will make frequent expeditions into the field to assist in a range of projects that will collectively expose them to natural science, social science, policy, and leadership in conservation, including but not limited to:

  • Corridor restoration projects along I-90.
  • Camera trapping to monitor and assess recovery and wildlife use.
  • Invasive eradication and mitigation.
  • Shadowing conservation leaders in the office and the field.
  • Management planning in the Teanaway Community Forest Trust.

Scholar Skills and Knowledge to be Acquired: GPS skills, wildlife sign identification, camera trapping set up, retrieval and analysis, review of environmental policy and climate change impacts. Note: driver’s license needed.

Potential Products: Named participation in the “Voices of Cascadia Project.”​