2019 Student Projects

Students share their project findings and conservation ideas at science fairs and professional meetings, in scientific journals, on the CRESO website, and through outreach workshops including K-12 classrooms and community groups such as Oak Ridge Institute for Continued Learning. Several CRESO students have continued their research after entering college and subsequently published their findings as a senior thesis or in peer-reviewed journals. New research and outreach initiatives include developing and piloting a standards-based box turtle curriculum, assisting local elementary schools in wetland creation/restoration and study methods, and providing guidance about wetland curriculum design. The program is coordinated by teachers of biology, math, and science from area schools, and instruction is further augmented and enriched by volunteer scientists, conservationists, and natural resource professionals who give their time and share their experience with CRESO students. 

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Coverboards are used for conducting a long-term mark-release-recapture study on snakes.  Coverboards are checked 2-3 times per week from March – September.  Twenty-five data points are recorded for individual snakes.  Recapture information is used to determine snake assemblage, sex ratios, growth, associated organisms, activity patterns, etc. 


Aquatic Turtles

Aquatic turtles are captured by placing hoop nets in two ponds on the Oak Ridge Reservation baited with Vienna sausages. Captured turtles are marked, weighed, measured and released.



Wetlands that have been built all over Anderson County are sampled for macroinvertebrates and water quality is evaluated.

Tracking a Box Turtle

Tracking a Box Turtle

Box Turtle Tracking

Radio transmitters are attached to box turtles and 3-4 times per week these turtles are located and habitat and weather conditions are noted. We are interested in looking at home range patterns for these turtles.

John Rucker with his Springer Spaniel who has just caught a Box Turtle

John Rucker with his Springer Spaniel who has just caught a Box Turtle

Box Turtle Survey (using Dogs)

For the past ten years, we have been using specially trained dogs to locate box turtles in the Anderson County area. These turtles are marked, and life-history characteristics are noted. We have been working with Dr. Matt Allender and the World Health Organization in a team effort for the world’s largest database of box turtle populations looking at overall box turtle health.

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow

BirdBox Project

The CRESO birdbox project is a part of NestWatch, a nationwide monitoring program designed to track status and trends in the reproductive biology of birds. Currently, CRESO student researchers are checking 144 boxes at seven sites on a weekly basis. The season began the last week of March and will end the first of August. The data collected is uploaded to the Nestwatch site and includes species identification, when nesting occurs, number of eggs laid, how many eggs hatch, and how many hatchlings survive. Anyone can submit data to Nestwatch, and it does not have to be from a nestbox. The Nestwatch database is intended to be used to study the current condition of breeding bird populations and how they may be changing over time.