Bird Habitat Project Complete: WV Leads in Interesting Statistic

For Immediate Release: 
Apr 27 2004

Bird Habitat Project Complete: WV Leads in Interesting Statistic

Athens, W.Va. - High school students in Kanawha, Putnam and Cabell Counties in West Virginia had a unique opportunity, thanks to the National Geographic Society, the West Virginia Department of Education, and the West Virginia Geographic Alliance, to do a little bird watching … under the watchful eye of college students and professors from Concord College in Athens and Marshall University in Huntington.

The schools partnered with Region II Planning, the Regional Intergovernmental Council, and Kanawha, Putnam, and Cabell school districts, to study the loss of bird habitats due to urban sprawl in a 60-mile corridor between Charleston and Huntington.

“The results of this study indicated that bird habitats were indeed impacted,” stated Dr. Canterbury, “primarily through shrinkage and degradation. West Virginia led the nation in sprawl in 2000. The results of this study will be distributed through the Appalachians as a model for ‘smart growth.’”

“Students from Sissonville, Riverside, University Collaborative, Huntington, Liberty, Charleston Catholic and Harts high schools heard lectures on urban sprawl, netted birds in the field for tagging and applied their knowledge graphically through the use of geographic information science,” stated Dr. Towers. “In addition, students attended an annual meeting of the West Virginia Council for the Social Studies and the West Virginia Academy of Science.”

“It is key to have the support of high school teachers for this kind of research, stated Dr. Manzo. “David Lucas (Harts), Esta Lake (Huntington), Randy Daniel (Liberty), Brian O’Connell and Whitey Ferrell (Riverside), and Amy Arnold (Charleston Catholic), provided excellent support and direction for the students. Sharon Flack, co-coordinator of the West Virginia Geographic Alliance and social studies coordinator for the West Virginia Department of Education, was also instrumental in assisting.”

Concord College Assistant Professor of Biology Ronald A. Canterbury and Professor of Geography Joseph T. Manzo wrote the 35-page proposal that was submitted to the National Geographic Society. Dr. George Towers, associate professor of geography, assisted with directing the project, as did Marshall University Professor of Biology, Dr. Thomas K. Pauley and Assistant Professor of Geography James Leonard.

For additional information, please contact Dr. Manzo, 1-304-384-5208 or