Shelby Julia is conducting field research on habitat change, conservation and the golden-wing warbler. She’s documenting how the birds’ habitat is being invaded by competitors that are essentially moving in after being displaced by warmer temperatures in their own territories to the south.
"At first," she says, "it seemed these birds were fighting with their blue-wing cousins, but now it's becoming clearer that numbers of golden-wing warblers are declining because they're not fighting, they're mating with blue-wings." This mixing of species is called hybridization and it's made the golden-wing warbler a candidate for the list of threatened species in the United States.
"The population is shrinking," she says, "but my research might find some aspect of the birds' behavior that could help them."
This is why Julia wanted to go to college: to help animals by studying their health and behavior. The reason she chose Clarkson?
"Lots of places have animal programs," she says, "but they're not as close to so many species. Being next to the Adirondack Park puts you close to wildlife. So you get to see more interesting — and more revealing — behavior and you get to study it in the wild."
How did she get to conduct this kind of research — as a sophomore?
"It was simple," she says, "I joined the Honors program. We have to conduct research for our thesis. There are lots of projects to choose from and there’s so much to figure out. I'm going to keep researching the golden-wing warbler. I might find something that could mean a better future for the species."