Science in Action at Rice Creek Field Station

Nik Reff

Nik SIA

 Seed predation by small mammals in meadows and forests in Little Falls, NY and Rice Creek Field Station (Summer and Fall 2012).

What is the focus of your research and why is it important?
The focus of my research is to explore the foraging behaviors of small mammals in both forests and meadows.  My research also explores the role total nutrition plays in the selectivity of various seeds.  This is gauged by the total calories each seed has to offer to a small mammal.  This research is important to us because it delves in the nature of how organisms obtain nutrition.  There are far more complex feeding habits in organisms other than humans that we give them credit for.  Various types of wildlife are put under terrific amount of stresses causing them to adapt to various situations (e.g. weather, predation etc.).  Understanding the mechanics of how something feeds in a given situation may be crucial to other studies of a specific organism.  Some of the most important parts of life, for most organisms, are gaining nutrition and mating.  We can learn a great deal about behavior by studying feeding and mating rituals in animals.

What have you learned about conducting research?
What I have learned about conducting research is that you have to allocate your time efficiently.  I did not work with a partner during my research project, because I started over the summer.  But, in that respect it made it more difficult because I was doing the work of two people.  You also have to take time and develop your experiment so that your methods and results stay consistent and can easily be replicated.  Half the fun of doing research is that in the back of your mind you know a certain group of people are going to be interested in your research.

Describe a memorable research experience at Rice Creek Field Station.
My most memorable research experience is when I first tried to locate a good spot to setup my research plots.  I was using the colored route maps provided on the website.  The maps were confusing and I wandered around Rice Creek for an hour and a half before I found where I wanted to set-up my plot.  It was rather hot that day as well.

Where did you grow up and how did you become interested in science?
I grew up in Little Falls, NY.  It is a small agricultural community just east of Utica, NY.  I was interested in science for as long as I can remember.  My parents bought me many things related to science every Christmas.  My true passion for science developed during my sophomore year of high school when I had my wrestling coach for biology.  He had such a passion and excitement for the content that it really made me love science even more.  During my junior year at Oswego State, I had ecology and that course opened my eyes to a whole new branch of biology.  My professor really got me interested in ecology and inspired me to pursue the research I did.

What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future are to become a high school science teacher with my Adolescent Education degree from Oswego State.  Currently I am working on getting enough credits to be certified for my third science content area.  I will be certified to teach high school biology, chemistry as well as earth science.  I will also graduate from Oswego State with a Biology B.A. and plan on getting a masters degree in conservation ecology or some sort of ecology field and then possibly go even further with my degrees. 

Nik's study sites

Nik's Rice Creek Field Station study site habitats with plastic tubs containing seeds.