Lab Info / lab project

Lab Project

Tom QuayDr. Thomas Lavelle Quay earned his Master's Degree at NC State in 1940. He went on to earn the first Ph.D. awarded by the University and taught ornithology in the Department of Zoology for over 30 years. The goal of this exercise is to gain an appreciation for the process of planning, carrying out, and interpreting an avian field study. On the 76th anniversary of Dr. Quay's studies, the objective of the 2016 lab project is to compare wintering birds in Raleigh today with those reported in Dr. Quay's 1940 NCSU Master's thesis "The Ecological Succession of Winter Birds at Raleigh, North Carolina". Working in teams you will select study plots in the vicinity of campus and investigate some aspect of the bird community. Plots must be surveyed by each student a minimum of 10 times over the course of the semester. Your sampling and analyses should address explicitly stated objectives such as; understanding how changes in land use have changed Raleigh's winter bird communities over the past 76 years, habitat associations or behavior of particular species, or comparing current bird sampling methods with those used by Dr. Quay in 1940. The photographs presented in the thesis are reproduced here:

Plate 1
Plate 2
Plate 3


1) Review Dr. Quay's thesis and previous ornithology lab projects and formulate an approach for your field study. Submit a short (500 word) project proposal on Friday, 29 January summarizing your objectives and describing your study site (5 points).

2) On Friday, 19 February submit a draft methods section for your study outlining your study approach and proposed analyses (5 points).

  • Describe your study site in detail
  • Describe your sampling methods and your expected sample sizes in detail
  • Describe methods of data analysis you intend to use in detail

3) On Friday 26 February submit draft introduction (5 points) and literature cited (5 points) sections of your study. This section should place your study in the context of related research and clearly explain your project objectives. All references should be fully documented in a literature cited section using the citation format from The Auk

4) On Friday, 1 April submit a draft results section for your study and a preliminary summary of your field data (10 points). Your data summary should include all data collected for your project to date in an organized format (e.g. Excel or Access). Provide summary statistics for data (e.g. # birds seen per point, total number of detections per person, # trees per plot).

5) On Friday 8 April submit a draft discussion/conclusion section for your study(5 points) as well as a short abstract (about 250 words) (5 points).

6) On Friday, 22 April you will make a scientific presentation of your results. The presentation will be graded on:

Content - (40 points). This will include all of the sections previously submitted with revisions/changes as appropriate.

Title and Authors

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Literature cited

Presentation (20 points)

Presentation style (format, font, color choices, clarity and organization)

  • Oral summary and response to questions

Grading Summary

Draft project proposal 5 points
Draft abstract 5 points
Draft introduction 5 points
Draft methods 5 points
Draft results and data summary 10 points
Draft discussion 5 points
Draft literature cited 5 points
Final content 40 points
Final presentation 20 points

2014 Project Groups

  • Group 1 (Anthropogenic Noise): Amanda Lafferty, Alexandra Morrison, Beth Stevenson, Laura Lillycrop, Rose Anthony
  • Group 2 (Pasture and Forest): Angie Rizzo, Carter Ricks, Christine Zabel, Courtney Behrle, Sarah Feutz
  • Group 3 (Pine Age): Byron Levan, Jennifer Tizzard, Stephanie Krasteva, Julie Savage
  • Group 4 (Riparian): Amanda Dougherty, Christopher Inscore, Jenny Gough, Ryan Southard
  • Resources at your disposal

    1. The Raleigh Christmas Bird Count data, collected since 1916, are available in a spread sheet format for analysis and comparison to your field data.
    2. We are available to meet with team members during the semester to provide assistance with field identification and suggestions on objectives and methods of data collection and analysis.
    3. Dr. Quay's thesis and study plot maps are online.
    4. Sample reports and presentations from previous classes are provided as examples below:
      Team 3 2005 Presentation Team 1 2007 Presentation Team 4 2007 Presentation
      Team 3 2005 Summary Team 1 2007 Summary Team 4 2007 Summary
      Team 3 2005 Data Team 1 2007 Data Team 4 2007 Data
    5. Copies of bird monitoring techniques and evaluations are available online and in the library reserve: