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Warwick senior to present at the 2018 Upstate New York Regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposia

on March 5, 2018
A student at a podium speaks to his classmates

Garret Van Gelder practices his science research presentation before his classmates. Garret will also present his work at the 2018 Upstate New York Regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposia in Albany.

Warwick Valley High School senior Garret Van Gelder will present the results of his original scientific research, “Black-capped Chickadee Responses to Alarm Calls of Non-Flocking Heterospecifics,”  at the 2018 Upstate New York Regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposia (JSHS) later this week.
At the symposium, which will be held at the State University of New York at Albany March 2-8, students compete for scholarships and recognition by presenting the results of their original research before a panel of judges and an audience of their peers.
Garret, along with Warwick Valley’s Jacob Gaydos, Alyssa Schaechinger, and Jack Schenkman competed last month at the Eastern New York Subregional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. VanGelder’s presentation earned him the chance to advance to the Regional competition.
Garret said a lifelong interest in wildlife inspired his topic.
“I’ve always been very interested in animals, especially birds,” said Garret. He chose to study chickadees because they’re “smart, curious, and bold.”
“I am extremely proud of Garret for advancing to the next level of this prestigious competition,” said WVHS Science Research Teacher Lisa Reece. “Garret will now compete against students from Rockland and Westchester counties. It is a huge accomplishment for any student doing research at the high school level.”
Presenters at Regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposia have an opportunity to win undergraduate, tuition-based scholarships and cash awards from $200 to $2,000, and the top five finalists will advance to the National JSHS. This is the first year Warwick Valley students have participated in the competition.
JSHS is designed to challenge, engage, and publicly recognize students in grades 9-12  conducting research in the sciences, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM). Each spring in Albany, the students from high schools across New York present the results of original scientific research before more than 500 people.
Here’s a synopsis of Garret’s research:

Black-capped Chickadee Responses to Alarm Calls of Non-Flocking Heterospecifics

Teacher: Lisa Reece
Mentors: Dr. David Cimprich, US Army; Dr. Andrew Dolby, University of Mary Washington
“Recent literature has been replete with studies examining alarm and mobbing calls as they relate to interspecific reactions. Black-capped chickadees in Warwick and Goshen, NY were exposed to the alarm calls of northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis), their own mobbing calls, and the song of the common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) as a control to determine if they would respond to the cardinal alarm. While chickadees responded to their own calls with mobbing behavior, they apparently did not in any way respond to the calls of cardinals or yellowthroats.
“This ran contrary to the expected response of mobbing when exposed to the cardinal calls, and the lack of said response may indicate that a separate, evasive one was not recorded, or that northern cardinal “alarms” are too contextually varied among cardinals (and thus not paid any attention to by other birds), or are perhaps misinterpreted by human observers as alarms. Studying alarm and mobbing calls, as well as other animal communications, is important, as they may have certain conservation implications (especially habitat management).”

 

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