Michael Sitvarin, Zoology, "Multiple Predator Effects on the Survival of Pardos Milvana"

2011 Graduate Research Forum Top Oral Presentation


Michael SitvarinMichael Sitvarin, a Miami University doctoral student in the department of Zoology, received recognition as one of the top Oral Presentations at the 2011 Miami University Graduate Research Forum for his work "Multiple Predator Effects on the Survival of Pardos Milvina."  The study investigated the impacts of multiple predators on a single species, specifically local arthropods that co-exist in a food web full of predation.  Sitvarin's work resulted in the finding that different combinations of predators result in different overall risk to prey.

The project was completed entirely within Miami University labs with specimens collected at the Ecology Research Center.  Under the guidance of faculty advisor Ann Rypstra, Sitvarin constructed terraria in order to develop and monitor various combinations of predators and prey.  "Ann provided invaluable assistance for this project" said Sitvarin.  "She introduced me to the biology of the organisms I study, helped me develop the ideas behind the project, assisted with experimental design, data analysis, and more."

Sitvarin's interest in predators and predation began at an early age with his eventual achievement of an undergraduate degree in Biology and his current pursuit of a Ph.D. in Zoology at Miami University.  "As I got into more literature about the science of predation, I realized the importance of considering multiple predators when trying to understand prey behavior and predator-prey interactions" said Sitvarin.  He hopes to continue to develop research into this area, with this project laying the groundwork for the creation of his doctoral dissertation.  In this work, he would like to extend investigation into the impact of multiple predators deeper into the food web through decomposition and soil respiration.