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Trent Grad Student Receives Prestigious Kaplan Award
June 6, 2007

The Canadian LynxAfter being awarded the prestigious Kaplan Award from the United States Wildlife Conservation Society, Trent graduate student Megan Hornseth has set a new standard for Trent University and for her colleagues working in wildlife ecology.

The Kaplan Awards Program (KAP) is a scholarship program that supports the conservation efforts of young biologists working in the field. Specifically, the program is designed to support projects on wild cats with a conservation focus. As a 2007 recipient, Ms. Hornseth will receive $14,000 US to support her Master’s research project on the Canada lynx. She will also have the opportunity to apply for additional funding next year.

"Canada Lynx are listed as threatened in the United States, and although they are not protected in Canada, lynx are declining at the southern extent of their range where habitat fragmentation has occurred," explains Ms. Hornseth, who joined Trent’s M.Sc. program in Watershed Ecosystems in January 2007. "The goals of my research are to identify the southern extent of the lynx range in Ontario, and delineate potential corridors between core and southern populations by developing a habitat suitability model."

Ms. Hornseth’s project, entitled Canada lynx habitat integrity and prospects for connectivity at the southern range periphery in North America, also studies the movement paths of GPS collared lynx to identify important habitat components used by lynx while dispersing. Within the next six to eight months she will be heading into the field to place GPS collars on Canada lynx in and around Quetico Provincial Park, located near Thunder Bay.

For being named a recipient of the distinguished Kaplan prize, Ms. Hornseth is both humbled and honoured. She is also excited about what the opportunities this award presents for her research, which she is completing under the instruction of Dr. Dennis Murray, associate professor in the Department of Biology and Environmental and Resource Studies program, and holder of a Canada Research Chair in Terrestrial Ecology. Since starting at Trent, Ms. Hornseth has enjoyed working with Prof. Murray, saying his enthusiasm and passion for research has "pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone where I am able to learn new skills and increase the quality of research."

Ms. Hornseth is also a strong advocate for Trent University’s graduate programs, saying: "I really enjoy the benefits of a small university. The graduate students are a close-knit group and are involved in many different areas of research. Having the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and their researchers on-site has also proven to be a valuable resource for my research project."

With the recent announcement of the Kaplan Award, it is certainly evident that Ms. Hornseth’s hard work and dedication in her research on conservation biology and wildlife ecology is making an impact both at Trent and internationally.