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A student-led research team from the Hendrix College Department of Biology has concluded that the behavior of bison may make a valuable contribution to conserving the habitat of arthropods or invertebrate animals.

Zachary Nickell, the lead author on the paper, began participating in the research the summer after his sophomore year at Hendrix and continued the work through his senior year. He is now pursuing his Ph.D. in Biology at Florida International University. Their research was recently published in a journal produced by the Ecological Society of America.

“It was the first experience I had doing real scientific work, and it solidified that I wanted to spend the rest of my life studying the natural world,” said Nickell. “Collecting insects out in the prairie and then sorting them in lab was hard work, but I loved every minute of it and it gave me valuable experience in lab work and field work. It not only prepared me for further research, but also was one of the key factors to being accepted at my current institution.”

The paper, titled “Ecosystem engineering by bison (Bison bison) wallowing increases arthropod community heterogeneity in space and time,” resulted from bison research the team conducted in Oklahoma.

Click here to read the full journal on ESA.