This summer, a handful of SUNY Cobleskill students have been continuing a two-year research project into the suitability of various habitats in New York for the reintroduction of the endangered American Burying Beetle.

The project is part of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service initiative to reintroduce the beetle somewhere in the northeast using beetles reared from a Rhode Island population. Since 2014, 11 SUNY Cobleskill students have conducted research at the Albany Pine Bush Preserve and, most recently, the Huyck Preserve & Biological Field Station in Rensselaerville.

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Delicia Crippen and Melanie Musarra work in the Huyck Preserve.

This month, Deilicia Crippen and Melanie Musarra initiated surveys of beetle species similar to the American Burying Beetle at the Huyck Preserve to evaluate the suitability of the habitat there. Both students have received undergraduate research scholarships for the work.

Three other students — Stephanie Pyra, Anthony Pasquini, and Joshua Foust — are conducting similar research at the Pine Barrens habitat at the Albany Pine Bush. Both teams will be assessing burying beetle community composition, condition, and host availability (using small mammal samples) in each habitat with the hopes of finding a suitable home for the American Burying Beetle. So far, the project has included the evaluation of Pine Barrens, Eastern mixed forest, and upland meadow.