COSAM News Articles 2022 February 2022 Biological Sciences graduate student receives grant through the Alabama Chapter of the Audubon Society to enhance conservation efforts in Black Belt Prairie

Biological Sciences graduate student receives grant through the Alabama Chapter of the Audubon Society to enhance conservation efforts in Black Belt Prairie

Published: 02/08/2022

By: Maria Gebhardt

Amelia Grider received her first grant from the Alabama Chapter of the Audubon Society to conduct research on how birds utilize perennial grasslands in the state of Alabama. 

Grider, who is earning her master’s degree in biological sciences, earned her undergraduate degree in marine biology and shifted her research interest to ecology. 

“I am excited that my research will help to improve the understanding of birds and their use of perennial hayfields,” Grider said. 

Her fieldwork will be in Black Belt Prairie native grasslands where she will be counting birds as they travel throughout the area and evaluating their contribution to predation services.  

“I will be conducting research in perennial hayfields to collect data about how these grassland areas provide ample food resources for declining species of birds,” Grider explained.

Grider, who works with Dr. Bill Wills in the Department of Biological Sciences, took her own journey to find her own unique research. 

“It can be difficult to develop novel research as a new graduate student,” she added. “You feel as if research has already been conducted on every area out there. However, that is where my advisor, Dr. Wills provided support and helped me take my own journey.”

With one year of fieldwork research behind her, she is starting her second year where she will track how birds make use of hayfields and compare these data to bird data from Black Belt Prairie.   

“Grider’s work explores the potential of hayfields providing habitat for native species that make use of perennial grasslands because hayfields have traits that retain some characteristics similar to native grasslands," said Bill Wills, assistant research professor. "This work will add to our understanding of how perennial cropping systems can help meet the needs of a growing population while also retaining biodiversity and subsequently important services this diversity provides.”   

Grider is looking forward to making an impact in nature and conservation work.

“After I graduate, I would like to work in the non-profit sector where I can conduct research and share the importance of conservation through educational outreach opportunities,” Grider said. “Being able to talk directly with land owners and share how they contribute to conservation efforts would allow me to use my education and make a difference in our environment.” 

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