Anand's thesis is entitled "Avian Community Composition, Blood Mercury, and Chromium in Onondaga Lake Waste Beds". Anand collected on the bird community at Onondaga Lake, in Syracuse, which was severely polluted with PCBs, heavy metals, and other chemicals by nearby industry until the late 80s. A massive clean-up effort has been underway at Onondaga Lake and the Solvay waste beds since 2007. He conducted point counts to determine community composition at the waste beds, and mist-netted birds to collect blood samples for toxicological analysis. Anand found higher mercury in song sparrows at the waste beds than at a nearby reference site, but except for a few individual birds median mercury was below levels known to affect avian reproduction. He also found that the diversity and abundance of songbirds was high on the waste beds, which have become naturally vegetated with a mix of scrub-shrub, forest, and grassland.
Laurel's M.S. research, entitled "Estimating Occupancy and Abundance of Ring-Necked Pheasants in Western New York", was funded by the NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and aimed to establish better methods for monitoring and counting pheasants, which are a popular game species in NY. Laurel conducted call surveys of pheasants in the region alongside DEC biologists to test the effectiveness of these methods for estimating abundance of the wild pheasant population and to determine factors that affect abundance and distribution. She found that occupancy and density of pheasants was related to grassland cover, human development, and linear density of hedgerows and that density declined slightly over the three years of the study. Her results will be used to plan future monitoring and to inform habitat management.
Anand has been accepted into a Ph.D. program in Wildlife Biology at Baylor University, which he will begin in the fall. Laurel is currently working on manuscripts for publication, and looking forward to searching for permanent positions later this summer.