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Courtesy of Keri Dyer

Student’s cottontail project sparks interest in wildlife research career

Keri Dyer fought through thickets of brush and briers and through knee-deep wetlands to study the habitat needs of New England cottontails, but never once in her project did she actually see the subject of her research. She didn’t expect to.

“Available habitat for New England cottontails in southern New England has declined by 86 percent since the 1960s,” said Dyer, a resident of Smithfield studying wildlife and conservation biology at URI. “They like new growth forests, but due to fragmentation and maturing of habitat, there is minimal habitat available so populations are very very low.”

A 2010-11 survey of the region’s native rabbit found just one New England cottontail in all of Rhode Island, despite having more than 100 people searching for...

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