Bio Master's Candidate Wins Western Region Wildlife Award
Feb. 6, 2012
Contact: Professor John Perrine
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Cody Massing watching pikas in the Sierras
Photo Courtesy Professor John Perrine
SAN LUIS OBISPO -- Biological Sciences master's degree candidate Cody Massing won in the "Best Student Oral Presentation" competition at the annual meeting of the Western Section of The Wildlife Society - the professional wildlife biologists and managers in California, Nevada, and Hawaii.
Massing has spent the past year in California's Eastern Sierra interning for the U.S. Geological Survey, researching the pika - a small alpine animal that belongs to the rabbit family. She presented her research on behavioral plasticity (adaptability) in American Pikas in the face of climate change.
"The pika is an alpine mammal that lives in rock piles. It's very well adapted to cold, but not so much for heat. There is a concern that with global warming, the pikas could be at risk because they already inhabit high elevations -- there really isn't any place else for them to go" but high mountain areas, Massing explained. A petition exists to add the pika to the U.S. Endangered Species list, but it has yet to be acted upon, Massing said.
To take the title and cash award, Massing beat out several students from Humboldt State University and UC Davis, which are the strongest wildlife programs in California, according to Cal Poly Wildlife Biology Professor John Perrine, Massing's advisor.
This is the second year in a row that a Cal Poly biology grad student has gotten recognized at this meeting. Last year Carie Wingert won "best student poster" for her work on seasonal diet patterns in Burrowing Owls in anthropogenically-disturbed habitats.
Once she earns her Cal Poly master's degree, Massing hopes to return to the Eastern Sierra and work for a wildlife conservation agency or other organization studying alpine areas. She is currently a science technician working for the USGS in Bishop, Calif.