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Northwest Missouri State University


Student Spotlight

May 13, 2014

Student, faculty member earn prize for research at science meeting

Jeff Williams worked with Northwest Assistant Professor Dr. Jay McGhee on research, titled “A Comparison of Fall Bird Diversity at Urban and Rural Sites in Maryville, Missouri.”

Jeff Williams worked with Northwest Assistant Professor Dr. Jay McGhee on research, titled “A Comparison of Fall Bird Diversity at Urban and Rural Sites in Maryville, Missouri.”

Northwest Missouri State University student Jeff Williams earned second place for his undergraduate poster at the Missouri Academy of Science’s annual meeting April 26 at the University of Central Missouri.

Williams, of Clarinda, Iowa, was recognized for his poster, titled “A Comparison of Fall Bird Diversity at Urban and Rural Sites in Maryville, Missouri,” in the Biology/BioChem Division. Williams graduated from Northwest May 3 with bachelor’s degree in geography and wildlife ecology conservation.

For the basis of his poster, Williams cited prior research in large cities that suggests urbanization causes an overall decrease in avian species richness while increasing the abundance of certain urban-tolerant species.

Williams worked with Dr. Jay McGhee, assistant professor in Northwest’s Department of Natural Sciences, to test the research concept in the smaller urbanized area of Maryville. Williams and McGhee conducted surveys of 10 randomly selected locations in the city limits and 10 randomly selected locations within three conservation areas – Bilby Ranch, Nodaway County Community Lake and Mozingo Lake – located outside the city.

Their surveys found higher species richness at sites outside the city than those inside the city limits, but they found no significant difference in the probability of detection for species found both inside and outside the city limits. They concluded habitat diversity draws more species of birds while common species found in both urban and rural settings have been forced to spread to different habitats by competition among the species.  

The Missouri Academy of Science’s annual meeting features oral and poster presentations by faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students about topics in math, computer science, natural sciences and social sciences. The Missouri Academy of Science is a not-for-profit organization for promoting the increase and the diffusion of scientific spirit, and of promoting cooperation between the scientific interests of Missouri.


For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468