CORNER BROOK – Most people spend their summers trying to avoid flies, but Cheryl Butt will spend the next couple of months looking for them.
Ms. Butt, who just finished her third-year in Sir Wilfred Grenfell College’s environmental science program (biology stream), is conducting research in Gros Morne National Park this summer thanks to the 2006 Gros Morne National Park University Environmental Internship.
“I’ll be studying the effects of parasitic flies on caribou and their migration,” said Ms. Butt, an honours candidate in the environmental science program.
Technically speaking, she is carrying out a study on the abundance and diversity of nuisance flies in habitat frequented by woodland caribou in the park. The work will be conducted under the supervision of Drs. Barry Hicks (College of the North Atlantic, Carbonear) and Christine Campbell, chair of Grenfell’s environmental science program.
The internship program is jointly sponsored by Gros Morne National Park of Canada and the Gros Morne Cooperating Association. Open to students in environmental programs at SWGC, Memorial University’s Corner Brook campus, the internship provides an opportunity (with $4,500 funding) for students to participate in research projects related to environmental and conservation issues concerning the park and surrounding ecosystems. Evaluation criteria include academic achievement, project design and quality, as well as relevance of the project to park research needs.
A dwindling caribou population is one concern that Ms. Butt hopes to shed light on with her research in some small part.
“Caribou might change their migration patterns to avoid high numbers of pests,” said Ms. Butt. “I’ll be looking at what the numbers of flies are in the areas that caribou frequent the most. Also I’ll be looking at insects in the park to see what kinds there are in addition to numbers.”
A native of Carbonear, Ms. Butt hopes to use her research as a foundation for her fourth-year honours independent research project. Eventually she plans to continue her studies with post-graduate work.
“I’m so glad I got the internship and am able to use it in a field that interests me,” she said.