Lara G. Santos ’22

URC 2022: Roadways and Predator Populations in Southeastern N.H.
A photo of COLSA student Lara Santos standing in front of her poster presentation at the 2022 Undergraduate Research Conference

Lara G. Santos ’22 is an environmental conservation and sustainability major from Stoneham, Mass. She presented her research at the 2022 UNH Undergraduate Research Conference.

COLSA: What is the title of the research that you presented at the Undergraduate Research Conference?

Lara G. Santos: Impacts of Roads on Predator Presence in Southeastern New Hampshire.

COLSA: Please summarize your research.

Lara: We evaluated the effect of roads on the relative abundance of bobcats (Lynx rufus), coyotes (Canis latrans), fisher cats (Pekania pennanti), red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) using 34 wildlife camera traps deployed throughout the University of New Hampshire woodlands. By using data collected from the camera traps and GIS analysis, I examined how distance from roads affect species of high conservation and ecological significance at each site.

COLSA: What is the challenge/problem your research is looking to solve?

Lara: The findings from this research study show how each focal species is affected by roads and demonstrate implications for how they might interact with roadways. This information can help guide future development decisions as roads can pose threats to local wildlife by disturbing the local ecosystem.

COLSA: What was the most interesting finding (or findings) you made during your research?

Lara: I originally hypothesized that all observed species would prefer to stay away from locations of close proximity to roads. However, we found that coyotes and red foxes occurred more frequently at sites closer to roads. I thought it was interesting to see how certain species have adapted to anthropogenic changes and are able to thrive with human presence.

COLSA: How has participating in the URC benefited you?

Lara: It has allowed me to do research on a topic that is interesting to me and to further improve my oral presentation skills particularly when communicating information to individuals who aren’t scientists.

COLSA: Who has worked with you on your research?

Lara: Mairi K.P. Poisson [graduate student], Andrew R. Butler [graduate student], Remington J. Moll [assistant professor in the department of natural resources and the environment].