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A Sparrow's Songs: College Students In Broward Show Off Their Research Projects At FAU Symposium

Research students from Florida Atlantic University, Broward College and Miami Dade College showcased their projects Friday morning at the 9th annual student research symposium in Davie. 

The students were judged on how clearly they were able to communicate their research to an audience that reaches beyond fellow scientists.

Many of the projects focused on health and environmental issues - like studying Bachman's sparrow. 

Bachman's sparrow is a songbird that lives in pine forests and brushy fields in the Southeastern United States. In Florida, its habitat is increasingly under threat from fires and development. 

Undergraduate student Andressa Reis is studying the bird - and its music - at Florida Atlantic University's Davie campus.


"This bird loses its habitats and it loses a lot of the things that help sustain it. So, we're trying to quantify and understand more about the bird," Reis said. 

Bachman's sparrows are known for how much they sing - and they have a large repertoire of songs. 

Male sparrows typically use their songs to communicate in aggressive situations, like a territorial dispute with another male. 

That's what Reis studied. She looked at 39 male sparrows that live in Jonathan Dickinson State Park, just north of Jupiter, and how they share types of songs with each other. 

Her project helped create a library for the bird's music. 


A Sparrow's Songs: College Students In Broward Show Off Their Research Projects At FAU Symposium
Samples of some of the Bachmans Sparrow songs. Credit: The Rindy Anderson Lab in the FAU Department of Biological Sciences.

Out of the 39 male birds, Reis and her advisor, Dr. Rindy Anderson, found 126 types of songs. 

"The more information we know, the more we can help it," Reis said. 

She won third place in her poster presentation at the symposium. Reis's analysis of the bird's songs is still ongoing. Her future studies will test the acoustic properties of the more "popular" of the bird's songs. 

In addition to Reis's research, The National Audubon Society has mapped out projections of the negative implications of rising temperatures due to climate change, on the Bachman's sparrow population. 


Bachmans Sparrow
Wikimedia Creative Commons

Read More: White Ibis And Bilingual Decelopment: FAU Research Students Showcase Their Projects

Other student research projects at the symposium tackled solutions to sea-level rise, and brain function. 

FAU Urban and Regional Planning masters student Amir Koleini studies how people can better understand sea-level rise in Fort Lauderdale using virtual reality models.

"They can experience the water in the street, rather than seeing just charts and maps," Koleini said.

Koleini won second place for his presentation, in the Masters research category of the symposium. 

FAU doctoral candidate Merike Lang studies experimental neuropsychology. At the symposium, she showcased her research project for her dissertation looking at the brain waves in bilingual people and musicians. 

"I'm starting here just to compare musicians and bilinguals, and then work my way, as I graduate, to getting more involved in what music really does for us, or how it affects us," Lang said.

A previous version of the story stated that Koleini won first place in his division. He won second. We regret the error.