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Meeting Abstract

19-5   14:30 - 14:45  Course-Based Undergraduate Research with non-science majors using Squirrel-Net Davis-Berg, EC; Dizney, L; Varner, J; Connors, PK*; Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, IL; University of Portland, Portland, OR; Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction, CO; Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction, CO

We used the Squirrel-Net Population Estimation Course-Based Undergraduate Research module in a non-majors Ecology honors course. The module was used as a laboratory as part of the Population and Life History topics, and then expanded to a longer in-class research project. In this module, students are asked to compare results and underlying assumptions of three commonly used population estimation techniques (strip census, scat count, and camera traps). Data are entered into a multi-institutional database allowing students to see how environmental factors also affect the outcomes. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic our class has been remote since Fall 2020 and students participated in synchronous zoom classes. We watched the videos and learned how populations are estimated in a variety of animals including squirrels. In Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, we used data from the multi-institutional database because not all students were not able to collect estimates from local squirrels outside. For Fall 2021, students collected their own data and contributed to the national data set. Here, we will present the challenges of both engaging non-biology majors in ecological research and participating in research using data collected by other students. We will address the advantages of being part of a larger course-based undergraduate research experience from the instructor and student perspective. Lastly, we will share student feedback and demonstrate how these exercises worked for our students.