Kassandra Townsend is one of Conservation Nation’s 2021 emerging conservationist grant winners. She hopes to be one of the voices that can bridge a gap between western science and Indigenous knowledge. As an undergraduate student, Kassandra was inspired by other Indigenous professionals to pursue a career in wildlife biology and link that with traditional ecological knowledge. Her path includes work on multiple research projects including establishing a long-term collaborative monitoring program to provide data on the ecology and population demography of Ferruginous hawks and assisting with a black bear project trapping and collaring of black bears, both in Idaho. A Doris Duke Conservation Scholar, she has won many awards including the 2018 Idaho Chapter of the Wildlife Society Undergraduate scholarship, 2019 Udall Foundation Scholarship Honorable Mention, 2019 American Indian Services Scholarship award, and the 2020 Alumni Award for Excellence. She is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of Idaho and hopes The Bridge to Doctorate program will provide her with the opportunity to include Indigenous knowledge within her study.
Forest Owls Conservation
The Western Screech owl, Elf owl, and the Whiskered Screech owl can all be found in harsh desert environments in southeastern Arizona but not a lot is known about their ecology. Kassandra hopes to study the way these three owl species utilize their habitat and how climate change will affect their ecology. She will be using iButton data loggers deployed in various cavities (occupied/unoccupied) to further understand the optimal microclimate within nest cavities. Kassandra will use available climate change data to show how these owl’s habitats and reproductive success may be affected by changing environments.
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Conservation Nation is an initiative of Friends of the National Zoo, the registered 501(c)(3) non-profit partner of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. Contributions to Conservation Nation are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.