Northwoods Adventure: Dr. Gordon Gullion Data Recovery Project
Dr. Gordon Gullion, an ecologist from the Cloquet, MN area, spent years studying the ruffed grouse and how the species interacts and adapts in different environments and climates. His work was recorded on 69,000 notecards, and a project at Central Lakes College will recover and preserve the data for future study.
“He worked with ruffed grouse primarily up there,” CLC Natural Resource Instructor Kent Montgomery said. “He did some work with other predators such as goshawks and some of the other animals that affected grouse population.
Dr. Gullion passed away in the early 1990s, but his work was thought to be unfinished before his death.
“Unfortunately, he still had a lot of work he was planning on doing at the time of his death that to this day is buried in that data somewhere,” Montgomery said. “We’re hoping to get some of that out and get new understandings of some of the work that he was doing.”
One of the many aspects of the project is data entry, where students will take one of the notecards and enter it into a database, which will preserve the data and information for generations to come.
“Ironically, the cards are in really good shape,” Montgomery said. “These were all put on index cards, but it’s the pencil, kind of the writing that is deteriorating. That we’re having trouble even now picking up. So we’re trying to get that in. Once we do, we have technology today that wasn’t available in Gordon’s day.”
The technological differences allow today’s students to understand and study the work in different ways than Dr. Gullion did.
“We have GPS and GIS now where they had radio telemetry and that was about all they had,” CLC Student Cameron Fleischer said. “So they had to use mark and recapture methods where they had to trap the birds and collect the information that way, whereas we can take and put a transmitter or a GPS on the bird and study them from a lab.”
The study has provided a valuable learning experience for the students as well.
“I’ve learned a lot actually about how ruffed grouse act and what kind of habitats they prefer and everything about them,” Fleischer said. “As well as what Gordy Gullion was doing when he worked on the project.”
“Well, I’m still learning a lot but I didn’t realize there was such a big database of grouse and information that Gullion put together,” CLC Student Kelly Sipper said.
The project is expected to last a total of four to five years.