Welcome to Squirrel-Net!
Squirrel-Net was born after a group meeting during the annual conference for the American Society of Mammalogists in 2017. We came together with the unifying desire to integrate meaningful scientific research with mammals into undergraduate biology education. Since 2017, we have developed and implemented a series of course-based undergraduate research experiences (or CUREs) that investigate the behavior and ecology of sciurids, or squirrels. These small mammals are an appealing and transferable study subject for many reasons: squirrels are charismatic, active during the day as well as year round, and found in numerous habitat types including college campuses. In fact, there are over 60 species of sciurids found across North America!
Our goals at Squirrel-Net are to establish long-term datasets on sciurids from diverse habitats associated with college campuses across North America with standardized protocols, while simultaneously providing CUREs to students in the biological sciences. Our datasets will allow students and researchers to test a wide-array of ecological questions across a range of spatial and temporal scales.
Animal behavior is intrinsically fascinating and compelling for many of us. Furthermore, observing live animals is well known to foster strong personal connections with science and nature in students, particularly those from diverse backgrounds. Here at Squirrel-Net, we aim to create these experiences for our students while teaching the wonders of scientific inquiry.
Squirrel-Net is unique because we are a national network. Our inquiry-based lesson plans take students out of the classroom and engage them in research on locally relevant and widely distributed mammals. In the process, students collect data with standardized protocols and submit their data to a national database. Students can test their own hypotheses with data they collected, as well as the combined, larger dataset. Preliminary assessments suggest that being part of a larger, nation-wide project provides a sense of community and accountability among the students. You can join our network and have your students add to our growing database here!
We are a group of mammalogists that share a common goal to promote authentic research experiences in the classroom for undergraduate students. Our founding members hold faculty and teaching positions at higher-educational institutions across the United States, which range from R1 universities to primarily undergraduate institutions and colleges serving underrepresented populations. Meet our project leadership team here!