Ben Stubbs '17 won the best undergraduate poster award at the Minnesota Chapter of the Wildlife Society annual meeting for his research on bird communities.
Two years ago, Stubbs was part of biology professor Dr. Joseph Whittaker's research team. He assisted Whittaker in his study of small mammal communities in remnant and restored prairies in northwestern Minnesota. For Stubbs, however, this research ended up more than just a resume builder. It spurred an idea.
Stubbs, a biology and environmental studies policy double major and religion minor, is an avid birdwatcher. While researching with Whittaker, he became interested in studying bird communities on the sites they visited. A research project developed, and last summer Stubbs visited sites to research differences in the types of bird species found in remnant prairies, prairies that exist naturally, and restored prairies – prairies that have been reestablished by reseeding and managing the sites.
"I am really interested in simply knowing what lives in a particular area," he says. "I think it is essential to know your neighbors, human and non-human."
In the fall, Stubbs returned to Concordia and began processing his results. He found that while both types of prairies had similar numbers of bird species, remnant prairie sites had more birds that were associated with native grasslands and prairies.
He presented these results in February at the Minnesota Wildlife Society annual meeting. At the event, 20 posters were presented, including 12 posters from undergraduate researchers. Student presenters came from Concordia, Minnesota State University Moorhead and several University of Minnesota campuses. Along with Stubbs, four other Cobbers also brought their research.
Concordia has a history of performing well at the Wildlife Society meeting. When Cobbers last presented research there in 2014, Brian Bickel's poster received an honorable mention and Shannon Leipus won best undergraduate poster. It was an excitement when Stubbs received the top prize as well.
"I have to admit, it was unexpected and it was an honor to be a recipient of the award," he says. "I'm glad I could take part in the event."
In the future, Stubbs hopes to continue conservation work after he graduates, but he also says he'll just "go with the flow."
"If I can be outside and feel as if I am helping the world in some way, I will be a happy camper," he says.