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ENSCI Graduate Student Conducts Wildlife Census in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Laura Franklin, a current Environmental Science (ENSCI) master's student, recently began working with the Point Lobos Foundation as a Wildlife Monitoring Intern to conduct a census of the larger land mammals that reside in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. This experience serves as her Professional Science Master's (PSM) project, where she has the opportunity to apply the technical skills gained in the classroom towards a rigorous, professional experience. We recently touched base with Laura to learn more about her project. To read more, check out her interview below.

Laura holding a deer skull
Mountain lions captured on one of the wildlife cameras Laura monitors
Mountain lions captured on one of the wildlife cameras Laura monitors
A deer investigates one of the wildlife cameras in Point Lobos
A deer investigates one of the wildlife cameras in Point Lobos

What does your professional internship with the Point Lobos Foundation entail?

I'm conducting a baseline survey of medium and large terrestrial mammals in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve using a combination of wildlife cameras and scat/track surveys. I am designing a repeatable methodology that the Point Lobos Foundation and California State Parks can implement on a yearly basis so that we can better understand mammal movement throughout the Reserve and the relationship between recreational use and animal behavior.

"In the scientific community, there is a growing body of research and literature regarding local shorebird and marine mammal populations. We know less about the terrestrial mammals of Point Lobos." - Laura Franklin, Carmel Pinecone

How is your project contributing to your professional goals?

Tracking at Point Lobos has made me realize that this is exactly the type of work that I would like to pursue in my professional career, specifically regarding predators and how their movement and behavior might be affected by recreation, habitat fragmentation, and development. Although the majority of my work has been solitary, it has been really special and exciting to be able to communicate with the surrounding community about what I've been finding. Point Lobos is a beloved place in this community and I have felt very supported in my endeavors!

What is your favorite part about being a graduate student at CSUMB?

Participating in this PSM project!

What are your plans for after graduate school?

I would love to continue this type of work in the area and I have also been considering pursuing a doctorate in this type of work.

Laura Franklin's work was recently featured in the Carmel Pinecone. To read more about her PSM project, check out her front-page feature: 'Intern taking census of what goes bump in the night at Point Lobos'.