Author: Grace Duffy

Hi! I’m a Psychology student going into my final year at Queens University Belfast. Seeing this placement advertised on the Queens University career’s website immediately sparked my interest. As a psychology student who has volunteered in many research projects throughout the filed of psychology, getting the opportunity to get involved and see how research takes place in a field outside the area of psychology was a really unique experience. The title of the summer project I worked on was ‘To examine growth rates in fallow fawns’.

The project took place in Phoenix Park which was a perfect setting especially with the Covid-19 outbreak. The main focus of the project was to photograph the fawns each week and study their growth patterns using photogrammetry. I jotted down their distance from me using a range finder and noted their tag number and whether I captured the rump or flank of the fawn. After each day of field work, I uploaded the photographs of the fawns into a OneDrive folder. Each fawn had its own folder under each date I worked in Phoenix Park on. I created a spreadsheet to see how often the fawns appeared throughout the weeks. For example, I photographed nine of the fawns for 6 out of 8 weeks, while some of the fawns I never saw once. There are 97 tagged fawns, so it was impossible to capture them all!  I completed field work for 8 weeks of the project before moving onto the data analysis.

Before I started the data analysis, I listed the nine fawns I had captured the most down. I also completed validation with a PhD student by measuring a line on the box every 5metres with the range finder and camera. I then uploaded the photos of the box to Image and measured the length of the line each time using this software. This was later used to calculate the lengths of the fawn’s rump and flank. I then got to work on the nine fawns I had the most photographs of. On a spreadsheet I noted the image number the fawn tag, week and the length of the flank, tibia, and rump. The calculations for the measurement of the flank, tibia and rump where then put into a formula against the distance to calculate the actual growth rates of the fawns.

One of my favourite parts of the project was getting to work alongside two highly experienced PhD students as it really enhanced my knowledge. They knew so much about the deer as they had studied them throughout the past year, along with having an extensive knowledge about zoology and biology with both sharing their incredible experiences in south Africa and Australia among others! Along with sharing their experiences they really helped me get settled into the project and were there each week to assist me with anything I needed. I really enjoyed working with these students and they have really inspired me with their dedication and real passion for their projects.

I am excited to see the results of my part of the project combined with the other two PhD students’ projects on the fawn/mother’s relationship and the sleep patterns of the fawns. I was honoured to be given the opportunity work alongside these incredible students on such an intriguing placement which has inspired my interest in research into behavioural and environmental science going forward!

Photo by Jacek Ulinski on Unsplash