Finger Lakes Community College
2001 marked the beginning of a collaboration between the Department of Science and Technology, the Department of Environmental Conservation and Horticulture, and Braddock Bay Raptor Research. For years, banders at Braddock Bay had been unable to record the sex of the Red-tailed hawks that had been banded and released as part of their annual banding program. A lack of sexual dimorphism in these raptors made it impossible to obtain this important piece of data with any level of confidence.
Researchers at FLCC designed and implemented a five year study plan to explore the possibility of identifying morphometric correlates of sex in this bird. A PCR-based blood test was used to identify the sex, and these results were compared to a large data set containing morphometric data collected in the field prior to releasing each bird. Students in FLCC’s A.S. Biotechnology Program participated in the project as part of an independent study course. The benefits to the students became quickly evident, and led to a commitment by FLCC faculty to begin the process of bringing the research experience into the classroom.