A local scholar attending The Odyssey Institute for Advanced and International Studies spends her summer in Utah, studying owls and the effects of how climate change has threatened their survival.
This summer, Elisa Rojas, a scholar attending The Odyssey Institute for Advanced and International Studies, set out on an adventure in Utah to study the effects of climate change on owls. Forest harvesting and climate change are threatening the lifestyle routines and habitats of many small forest owl species in the western United States.
The world-wide organization, EarthWatch, works to engage people in scientific field research and education. Each year, thousands of people assist their scientists by collecting data on climate change, ocean health, wildlife, ecosystems, and sustainable cultures.
Elisa joined the EarthWatch Owl team, led by Dr. Markus Mika, the Utah Field Team Leader, for a week-long journey of hiking through the towering Aspens. Old Aspen groves provide a home to Utah’s native population of flammulated and saw-whet owls. Scientists are predicting that within this century, many of the Aspens will disappear and research is necessary to help secure the future of the owls.
Taken under the wing of the OwlWatch Utah team, Elisa was able to participate in hands-on scientific fieldwork, by collecting data on mothering owls and their newborns to better understand the breeding of owls as climate change becomes more and more recognizable.
Elisa learned to survey the land for possible owl cavities, how to safely capture, tag and release owls, as well as many other specific skills needed for data collecting.
As a student, she was able to personally experience scientific fieldwork and this experience has further fueled her passion for science.