Passenger Pigeon to Peregrine Falcon, Saving our Migratory Birds

In Module 10, we have learned about the importance of biodiversity in maintaining the dynamic of individual ecosystems as well as human-environment systems. The extinction of one species can play a huge impact on our lives, and so we see many efforts to protect endangered species through bio-reserves as well as research to help understand the animals needs and roles it may have on the environment.

For this learning activity you will research an extinct species that you find interesting. You must be able to find information on characteristics of the animal, habitat, as well as conservation efforts that took place before it’s extinction. It is preferred that your search be of an animal in your own country as the regulations towards animal protection differ and will make your comparison harder, but it is not required. Then you will look up an endangered animal in your own local area; consider the efforts currently in practice to save the species and then compare them to you extinct selection.


Part 1: Your Blog Entry

Paragraph 1: Extinct Species

Talk about the species you selected. Include information about what lead to its extinction as well as methods used to try and save the animal. How did the extinction effect the animal’s environment?

Paragraph 2: Endangered Species

Similarly, introduce the species you have selected, why is it endangered, the region and habitat it aspires to, and preventative means in place to save the species. How would losing this species affect your life and its environment?

Paragraph 3: Comparison

In this paragraph, you will compare the two selected species of your choice and how the extinction of the first can show us ways to help protect the endangered species.

Consider talking about:

Do you think protection of your endangered species can learn from the extinct one?What is your local government doing differently compared to how the government handled the extinct species protection?How do you think the protection of the endangered species can improve?

Part 2: Comment of Peer Blog Posts


My Entry:

For my extinct species, I chose the Passenger Pigeon because my dad told me stories of how they used to darken entire cities and that you could blindly shoot upwards and two or three would drop from the sky. The pigeon is very similar to the mourning doves that we still have today but much larger and relied on large flocks that ultimately lead to their extinction. The birds were unintentionally overhunted for their feathers and meat, as well as their nesting grounds were heavily disrupted by human construction. When their numbers dwindled, they stopped reproducing in the wild, and the last known Passenger Pigeon died in 1914. The first wildlife protection that the nation was adopted in 1900 with the Lacey Act, banning illegal in interstate trade, but The Migratory Bird Treaty act wasn’t imposed until 1918 which would have protected the nesting grounds, eggs, youth, and adults from human disturbances. The birds were a large source of protein for many larger carnivores, including foxes, raccoons, and lynx, and without this source of food they have had to adapt and find other sources of meat, meaning other species were now being hunted on a larger scale then they ever had, possibly leading to their own demise. Luckily, the Migratory Bird Treaty act prevented other migratory birds from being an alternative to the commercial product that Passenger Pigeons had become.

For my endangered species, I selected the Peregrine Falcon. Although it is no longer listed as endangered on a federal level, the bird remains endangered in Pennsylvania. The bird has made a dramatic recovery through management practices, as we now have about 40 nests from zero recorded through 1959-1987, reaching close to the historical record of 44 nests (Brauning, 2014). Their extirpation is believed to be due to DDT, a pesticide that has weakened the egg-shell lining of many birds of prey, most notably the Bald Eagle. Since its endangerment, the bird has been through reintroduction, nest protection, public education, as well as the DDT ban from the United State Environmental Protection Agency in 1972. Since then the falcon has adapted from natural nesting sites of rock cliffs to urban buildings, showing the species’ resilience to human construction and habitat loss. Losing the Peregrine Falcon would have a smaller impact on our local environments than the loss of the Passenger Pigeon whose population used to be larger than the rest of migratory birds in total, due to their smaller presence in this state, and that there are also many other small predatory birds that would replace the falcon’s contributions to the environment.

The Peregrine Falcon’s recovery was in part greatly in debt to the lessons learned from the Passenger Pigeon’s extinction. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act is just one of the many protective laws that have aided the falcon’s survival. However, this act is constantly under attack to reduce the fines or restrictions it imposes. If any of these amendments actually pass, many birds may be threatened as the federal ability to protect any migratory bird species will be heavily reduced, allowing companies and even individuals to disrupt their populations. Many of the birds that live in the United States are migratory, without the protection of the Act, it is possible to lose many of the species that inhabit our land and skies. By losing any considerable amount of species, our environment would be greatly effected, many of the predators that rely of the migrations would lose valuable food sources and where the state of the environment would change to is impossible to predict. Losing biodiversity, as we have learned in this module, would weaken the resilience of ecosystems­ to thrive, and we might pay for it in the future if we do not head to the lessons we have learned in the past.



Brauning, Dan. “Peregrine Falcon.” Pennsylvania Game Commission, September 19, 2014. <>

LA9: Megan’s Diplomacy Stance


­My systems diagram emphasizes the main components of the cable leaks revolving around the Copenhagen Accord. The accord is one of many proposals of the UN Climate Change Conferences to reduce green house gas emissions. The Copenhagen Accord is endorsed heavily by the United States as it reduces the binding obligations of large industrialized nations that the UN process has adapted. This would allow the United States to reduce its emissions in its preferred method, reducing the status of the economy. By reducing the emission restrictions, industrial practices can continue with limited obstacles. Industrial processes are some of the largest sources of green house gas emissions, considerably from fossil fuel excavation and use, which increase the amount of trapped solar radiation that raises the Earth’s surface temperature. Increased temperature is one of the many symptoms of climate change, to mitigate climate change global conferences (such as the UN Climate Change conferences). Industrial practices are also are a source of much economic wealth. Keeping industrial practices from restrictions that the UN process would otherwise induce is in the United State’s interest because of the large surge of wealth it provides for the country. To get other countries to support the Copenhagen Accord (that would allow this), the United States has allotted financial support to other countries in need to sway their position on the proposal. From the diagram, the opposing process listed in the article, the UN process, has support from the Basic Countries (Brazil, South Africa, India, and China) which would be less restricted from the process than the U.S..


My strongest view on the cable leak is that the negotiations should not have been private. As representative members of the public, the State Department’s agendas should be that of the people they represent, and to know how the people would want to be represented the Department has to at least let the public know what is going on. This would slow down some negotiations, but the ends that are meaning to be achieved would be that of the nation and better represent “the people.” This is a community action problem, because individuals might want to continue with their gas emission activities instead of the intent of the UN conference to reduce emissions. However, considering the United States has taken a position already in interest more towards retaining industrial strength than emission reduction, involving the public wouldn’t lesson the nation’s intent of climate change mitigation.

To get supporters for the Copenhagen Accord, the United States has been negotiating aid for (participating) countries in need. Withdrawing aid for those who contend and increasing aid for those who concede influences these poorer nations to sway their votes in favor of the Accord. Although done underhanded, this is a common strategy in negotiations. For anyone to want to adhere to a decision, they must benefit in some way, and the United States has been giving these nations aid for their support on the decision.

This method for gaining support has allowed the consensus to swing largely in favor of the Copenhagen Accord. As for climate diplomacy, it is not being used properly as the Accord would not be able to restrict the overall emissions and just restrict particular practices the country itself allows. The U.S. is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, so if every nation had to reduce their emissions by a certain percentage, the U.S. would be one of the largest affected. This method would be in the best interest of climate mitigation because those with smaller emission rates already do not need to reduce their footprint as much as those with larger ones. The U.S. is a nation that needs to greatly reduce its footprint so that reducing the impact of climate change is achieved. If the U.S. does not have greater restrictions for its large-scale emissions, the mitigation­ efforts wouldn’t be as productive.

LA8: Flooding and Heatwaves in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania

1. Using the Nathan World Map of Natural Hazards, my town of Huntingdon Pennsylvania, falls under the lowest risk zones for most extreme natural events, except for an increase in storms during La Nina and trending warmer temperatures. Although I concur with Huntingdon being fairly sheltered from most of these events due to its geography, I believe that the Nathan World Map of Natural Hazards is at too large of a scale to examine the effects at a local region. Knowing the severity of flooding the Juniata River deposits during a hurricane off the east coast personally, I do not see the indication of the hazard affecting this area from the maps shown in this article.
2. For my current disaster, I chose a heat wave taking place in southeast Alaska. Many towns experienced record high temperatures following two unseasonably warm winters creating other extreme events such as the North Pole being 50 degrees warmer and bringing early forest fires (Emergency and Disaster Information Service).

As our climate begins to rise in temperature, heat waves are becoming more prominent. Seeing a heat wave in what we associate as the coldest state made the situation stand out to me. Huntingdon has also been experiencing more frequent heat waves. Forest fires are not very prominent due to proximity of water bodies (such as Raystown Lake and the Juniata River) and the amount of precipitation Pennsylvania receives on average. But the added heat greatly affects crops, animals, and residents of the town.

This heat wave has been recorded over a 100km (about 328,084 mile) radius area of land, whereas Huntingdon covers only 3.5 square miles in total (Huntingdon County Mapping Department). Heat waves generally effect large amounts of land; in which would cover the entirety of Huntingdon if one would pass through the area (or even the state as a whole). When determining the hazards a heat wave can potentially cause for a city, the area in affect is examined due to the implications it can cause at one time-forest fires or droughts from regions outside of your local region caused by the heat wave may also implicate upon your town.

Heat waves would greatly impede upon the youth, elderly, and agriculture of the region exposed to the extreme event. Children and the elderly are more susceptible to heat. Taking shelter indoors, hydrating, and using the natural bodies of water for cooling would help them adapt to the temperature. Agriculture would be under stress needing to water their animals and crops more frequently, with less end product due to poor growing environment. It is hard to cope to such an event for farming as the animals also need to be sufficient in cold weather (animals used in the south are not always suitable for the northern climate).

3. Excluding thunderstorms, as they are not uncommon, Huntingdon is most vulnerable to flooding and hailstorms. For sixty years up until 2010, flooding accounted for 42.5% of extreme events according to ( The town is generally protected from large windstorms and tornadoes from the Appalachian mountain range. Flooding is a large concern due to the adjacency of the Juniata River that floods after heavy rains, snow runoff, and hurricanes. The city expands along a low hillside along the river that divides it from the highway, so although many of the higher residencies escape water damage, the main roads (located river side) often flood and take out transportation infrastructure.
4. To reduce vulnerability to flooding in Huntingdon, making levies along the bank parks would help to keep floodwaters from rising into the main roads. The parks are already down set and feature greens and trees to retain some of the waters, but their boundary markers are of light wire posts, creating retaining walls to act as levies would allow park goers access to the river when low and keep the river from surging outwards. This would have to be a communal action as the parks are public grounds, and the city council would have to budget and vote upon how the retaining walls would be implemented. To help as an individual, I could vote, fundraise, and bring the option proposal to the council.



Emergency and Disaster Information Service. “Heat Wave in USA on April 01 2016 04:17 PM (UTC).” National Association of Radio Distress-Signaling and Infocommunications. April 1, 2016.

Huntingdon County Mapping Department. Huntingdon County. 2016. “Huntingdon, PA Natural Disasters and Weather Extremes.” World Media Group LLC. 2010.

LA7: Huntingdon vs The World

Huntingdon, Pennsylvania

Living in the rural area of Petersburg, about 20 minutes outside of State College, I decided to select the next nearest urban area: Huntingdon, PA. Huntingdon is an older urban area situated about 45 minutes south-west of State College with a population of about 7,000. The development is an automobile oriented development where the main form of transportation out of and towards the city center is vehicle based. Driving a car through Huntingdon is still difficult if you do not know the area even as the preferred method of transportation: the roads are a puzzle of one to two lane one way streets that make it difficult to drive directly to your designated location. The city is fairly clean, although sidewalks are small and poorly lit at night which makes walking unfavorable even during the day. The city boasts a large skate and green walking parks along the Juniata River which flows along the edge of the city separating the urban development from Route 22. Other than serving as the county’s seat, the city is mostly residential with a few small family retail shops and restaurants.

Copenhagen, Denmark

As we studied in both Module 4 and 7, Copenhagen is known for their pedestrian and bicycle friendly streets. Although in both Huntingdon and in Copenhagen the speed limits for vehicles are low, Copenhagen is pedestrian oriented making citizens more physically active, socially engaged, and the practice lowers the environmental impacts vehicles have on the city. The density of Huntingdon would allow at least most of the city to travel by foot or bike for daily transit. Making the commercial/retail area roads pedestrian only would increase physical activity as well as promote the local economy as the commercial establishments that take money from the area are located farther away from the city’s core. Transitioning to a more sustainable transit would initially cost a lot to transform the roads, but due to local farms and parks the cognitive transition would be fairly smooth with a little promotion.

Bogotá, Columbia

Along with making roads more pedestrian friendly, Bogotá’s Ciclovia car-free event lets the sustainable practice of bicycling and walking to and from destinations, it also engages the community to take part and get active. The event reminds me of the holiday road close-offs for memorial day and People’s choice which both occasions really get people out walking, socializing, and shopping where they would normally be driving. Noting similar events are implemented here, creating a local weekly ciclovia in Huntingdon could be integrated with local flea and farmer’s markets to, yet again, promote the local economy. Less car emissions from traveling and transportation of goods, healthy practice by eating fresh locally grown foods and walking to engage in activities, as well as making Huntingdon a place to come and take part in the event would bring more revenue to the city.

Goat’s milk is good? Megan Shrout’s take on LA6

  1. We have dairy Saanen goats on our farm (the Saanen has the mildest “goaty” flavor of the dairy breeds). I love the cheese we make from their milk, and even knowing that it is actually better for you than cow’s milk, I still cannot drink it alone. As a culture, the United States has made cow’s milk a standard social norm against other forms of milk that are well received in other countries. If prepared properly, most people cannot even taste a difference between the two. Simply recognizing what type of milk it is can turn people away, showing that it is a mental preference (predetermined by the social norm) and not a direct implication of taste or chemical make-up. Cow’s milk has been promoted heavily in agricultural business as well as markets through the large production of Holstein cattle that benefits both the farmer for more quantity and the sale prices retaining low prices for consumers. “Got Milk?” (California Milk Processor Board) is one of the promotional tactics to promote cow’s milk consumption.
  2. Goat milk could help combat diabetes and those suffering with lactose intolerance, which are health issues that effect our social culture. Goat milk is easier to digest than cow’s milk due to having smaller fat globules. Although having similar caloric attributes, the easier digestive qualities allows most lactose intolerant people to drink it as well as eases the impact the sugars carry to the blood stream for diabetics. If the societal norm would allow for various milk products to be viewed as equals (at least) to cow’s milk, then, even if prices retained their value, the social acceptance of alternative milks would allow their health benefits to make a greater impact on our population as a whole. Many who could actually use milk (if it wasn’t cow’s) do not pursue the possibility because the alternatives are taboo in our culture.


Relocation on Country to County Scales

1.The Narmada Valley Dam Projects

This case study from the University of Michigan focuses on the large hydroelectric project along the Narmada River in India. The government is pushing the project to develop its natural resources for it’s social needs such as electricity, transportation, and water supply. By constructing over 3,000 dams, the project also must relocate over 1.5 million people.1 This project has been in construction since the 1960s but has been intermittently paused when relocation efforts were doubted by those effected. The study recommends the government review social and environmental impacts as well as find energy alternatives using previously established departments. Although the government strives to improve their energy resources, they disregard large rural populations that depended on monsoon flooding for their rich soils and in turn the agricultural and forestry resources that will be devastated by implementation of dams as water management.

  2. Zambia’s Gwembe Tonga Relocation

This case study looks at a large group of development refugees that were relocated after dam construction on the Zambezi River to examine the effects government policies on relocation have over time. The findings show several negative attributes of environmental developments, such as the number of refugees of civil war and border disputes are similar to those of development projects. Citing many similarities between political and development refugees, the case reports resettlement of land needing to be regarded as a dynamic process.2 Different stages need to be developed to recognize that it is not a temporary settlement for these people and needs to regard future generations. The Gwembe Tonga People moved to separate countries (one native- Zambia, and one adjacent-Zambawe) that enabled a comparative view of the same people in different refugee settlements.

 3. Pine Grove Truck Ramp Relocation             Pine Grove, Pennsylvania

After a horrible accident that cost a life when a truck lost it’s break coming down Pine Grove Mountain, the local government rallied to implement a truck ramp half way down the Centre County side. The idea of a ramp was highly sought by the public as well for safety, however the actual ramp placement has proven useless (truck lost its breaks after the ramp shortly after the ramps construction) as well as increasing poor water drainage and forced relocation of the nearest residences. This local example of environmental development relates to the other two cases in the “environmental bad” of necessary relocations. Although on a smaller scale than the international cases, they all show how those of less power generally are outspoken by those with more power (in these cases: the government). Looking at these cases we can observe the need to assess a larger scale of impact on the human-environment systems at play within the site of development as to not disregard better alternatives to the common goal.


  1. Nisha Kapadia. “India’s Greatest Planned Environmental Disaster: The Narmada Valley Dam Projects.” University of Michigan. February 24, 2016.
  2. T. Scudder. “Development-induced Relocation and Refugee Studies: 37 Years of Change and Continuity among Zambia’s Gwembe Tonga.” University of Oxford. 10 March 1993.

Water Tracking of Petersburg and Usage by Megan Shrout

Part 1-A

In a rural setting, most people living in Petersburg, Pennsylvania, have private wells to access their fresh water supply. For those few within the town itself receive their water through Mather Water Company who sources largely from Standing Stone Creek. From their treatment plant, the water is contained in a reservoir until transported through water mains to reach consumers. After being used, the water is transported to a wastewater treatment center where it is cleaned, purified, and acclimated before its release into the Little Juniata River, which is the largest water source in the area. When not connected to a water main, septic tanks are used and trucks pump out the waste which is then transported to wastewater treatment centers.


Part 1-B

Water Usage of Friday, February 5th, 2016
Time Activity Gallons
9:15-9:30 am Brushing Teeth 1
Toilet 3
9:45-9:55 am Drinking Hot Tea .125 (16 oz.)
2:30-2:45 pm Drinking Water .0625 (8 oz.)
5:35-5:40 pm Toilet 3
10:00-10:15 pm Brushing Teeth 1
Shower 30 (15 minutes)
Total 38.1875


Part 1-C

Based upon my daily activities, my water usage stems mostly from personal sanitation (38 out of 38.1875 gallons). Otherwise it comes from consumption. In a situation in which I was only allotted two gallons of water a day, I would prioritize consumption to maintain health and cut back on sanitation usage. Showering would be only every three to four days in which water would only be used when soaking and rinsing (roughly about two gallons). To offset the shower’s water usage, any water not used out of the other four days would be used for consumption during the day of the shower. Brushing teeth can use minimal water in which the discharge could be thrown away instead of rinsed down a sink. However, even after these reduction strategies, my water usage would not fit within the restriction, as toilet usage is fairly mandatory as a social norm and from a sanitation standpoint. With our toilets using generally 3 gallons each flush, even only using it once a day would still use more water than allowed.

Your Ethics Views- Megan Shrout

2) Do the ends justify the means?

The ends do not justify the means. I hold this view because I believe that the desired end result is interdependent upon the means in which it takes to reach it. The means used are therefore a part of the end itself, not just the method to obtain any particular desire. For example, say it is raining and your goal is to keep your feet dry on your way to class. In one scenario, you wear rain boots and take your normal route. In another, you wear flip-flops and have to travel on well-drained sidewalks and avoid puddles. In the end, you make it to class, but the way you made it to class made the arrival different (longer commute time, or simply the matter of the shoes on your feet). Maybe the boots were uncomfortable, so although you attained your end desire, this scenario is less favorable meaning that the same end result is impacted greatly upon the means in which it takes to obtain it. With the end obtained, it is often compared by the means used to judge on the performance. A project completed is a project done, but if it is done in half the time compared to other attempts, the means used to influence aspects of the end result reflect upon how the end is perceived (in the case, positively).

A famous phrase in the business world is “You can’t move up in the world without stepping on a few toes.” This indicates an end ethics viewpoint; acknowledging that the means to reach an end may not be pleasant but may be necessary. Goal orientation is highly sought, and if the end is the only check, than it makes sense to over look the means as they have already been established as irrelevant. Getting to class on time wouldn’t be pleasant in those uncomfortable boots (though).


6) Is my own life worth more than the lives of others, the same, or less?

My life is not worth more than the lives of others and is the same. I hold this view because our individuality is malleable. The reason we believe we are unique, better, special derives off of our survival instinct. In many situations where you could be hurt in order to save another, be altruistic, you hesitate in selfish thought as your conscience argues to preserve who you are. There are instances when someone would be completely altruistic and sacrifice themselves for the ones they love, but the thoughts behind the action may be selfish ones (ex, risking life to save love because you wouldn’t know what to do without them). Even I believe myself to be “better” than others; it is only natural. Although I believe myself to be important, my life is not worth more than others. The sense of self is commonly taken away in military practices and in times of war so the soldiers act in the name of the country and not simply out of individual pride that would succumb to survival instincts in a battlefield.

What weighs us as being worth more or less is more easily debatable. As a nation, the United States believes the president to be one of the most important people, protected over and ravished more than most individuals. Many would argue that the president is worth more because he/she is contributing more to society. But, that is comparing human worth over life worth. Disregarding anything the individual has done, they are of the same composition and just like picking out goldfish from a tank, their life is worth just as much as the others (and that’s why most people don’t particularly care which one they get).


4)Do ecosystems matter for their own sake or do they only matter to the extent that they impact humans?

Ecosystems matter “for their own sake.” I take this stance because, in relation to the above ethical scenario, they would need to remain sustainable to support life whether we existed or not. I stated my position on life’s worth in the previous question, and find that ecosystem’s worth is based similarly to how we define our own. If a dog could walk, talk, and perform a job better than a human, the dog would be worth more to the job. But as an anthropocentric culture, we would (generalization) find the life of the human to be over the dog’s. However, if we put anthropocentricism aside (take humans out of the equation), the functionality of an ecosystem is still crucial to all the living organisms in the community.

One counter argument may be that animals that do not serve a purpose if they do not aid in the human survival, and therefore ecosystems matter for humanities sake. Every component of an ecosystem affects the way it functions. I learned from visiting Yellow Stone that reintroducing wolves back in to yellow stone have not only made the elk population healthier but also increased the bear population. So although farmers need to protect their flocks again, the elk, bison, and bear they eat/ use are now more plentiful. By dismissing the importance of one component, its interdependent components also become disrupted and ultimately affect the entire ecosystem, which affects us. Keeping the wolves outside would allow the decreasing biological health of the elk (edibility would be compromised, as well as the population could die off) and in turn the unrivaled elk would eat up the bear’s reserves.

Module 2 Biogas Diagram by Megan Shrout


This Village Social and Ecosystem Diagram visually separates each system into its main influential components and then to their own components. The diagram’s focus is on how cooking in rural India impacts the system. Demand for Cooking Fuel, for example, is broken down into the two “solutions” given in the video: BioGas technology and Wood Foraging. These two social components both effect their ecosystem differently. This shows how one component can create positive and negative feedback depending on how it approaches the subsequent result. Biotechnology reduces the need for wood fire to cook; wood foraging only supplies the fuel. Red lines help to differentiate a positive (additive) impact/feedback from negative (subtractive) which is indicated in green.

This diagram was extracted from one source, which shows a bias toward BioGas Generators as it disregards any unwanted effects they may incur (and therefore, the diagram does not display them). Gerry Marten’s diagram also disregards these aspects. His diagram responds more to the population as a number, and the influence cooking fuel demand increases it. My diagram adheres more to the educational repercussions than the number of rural children due to wood foraging for fire fuel. Marten’s diagram uses arrows to show the resources that one component provides to another, where as the arrows in mine indicate impacts.

Getting to Know You- Megan Shrout

My name is Megan Shrout, and I am a third year architecture student at the Pennsylvania State University’s main campus. University Park is Penn State’s only campus that offers this bachelor and I have dreamed of becoming an architect since I was in second grade. I live on campus during the school year; in the summer, I reside close to 20 minutes away in the rural town of Petersburg (on a farm I might add). It’s about five minutes away from Penn State’s Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center. Where I live you can see the milky way every night unless its cloudy. I’ve always appreciated nature’s beauty, but working on a farm really gives you a strong perspective on how you impact the environment and how it impacts you. I took personal interest in this course because I believe seeing environments from different perspectives and learning about “green approaches” will help develop my future (architecture) design impacts and decisions.

Being in architecture, I’ve learned about manipulating landscapes to incorporate my designs. Recently, I had to design a visitor center for the Farnsworth House (1945-1951). It was a residential project by Mies van der Rohe that is situated five feet above the ground (by I-beams) which resides in a floodplain in Illinois. Originally the design worked to keep the waters from entering the house, but over time (and residential development upstream) the house now floods seasonally. If Mies van der Rohe had access to the advanced capabilities that geographers have/produce today, he may have been able to extrapolate a higher flood line to design to. Understanding the site through a temporal aspect, such as estimating the future developments of the area, is a large design consideration that architects need to address.