BAMSI graduate set to be published in scientific journal
Lehron “Roni” Rolle, has many things to celebrate. The Andros native was named valedictorian for the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute’s (BAMSI) graduating class of 2017. He holds an Associate of Science degree in Marine Science. He recently received news of another accolade that can be added to his growing portfolio — he will be a published author.
Rolle has been listed as second author on a scientific paper on the Bahama Oriole and its pine tree nesting habits, entitled, “New Documentation of Pine Forest Nesting by the Critically Endangered Bahama Oriole (icterus northropi).” The article is to be published in an upcoming edition of the Caribbean Journal of Ornithology.
The article is the result of research that Rolle engaged in as part of a joint collaboration between the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) for the Bahama Oriole Project.
Rolle’s pathway to authorship began when he participated in the bird guide training course conducted by BNT in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, the National Audubon Society, and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). He did so well that in the summer of 2016, Ornithologist Dr. Kevin Omland from UMBC invited him to intern as the leading field assistant for the Bahama Oriole Project.
Data from the project was subsequently submitted by UMBC and accepted by the Caribbean Journal of Ornithology, with Rolle listed as second author of the scientific paper.
The Bahama Oriole is an endemic species to Andros, Bahamas, which is one of the reasons that it is considered the most critically endangered bird in the region. The aim of the project was to collect data that could lead to a better understanding of the species’ nesting behavior, which could ultimately lead to improved methods of conservation.
Previously, the Oriole had only been observed nesting in coconut palm trees in residential areas. However, Lehron’s contribution to the project was the discovery of an Oriole nest in a Caribbean pine tree within the forest, a rather undisturbed habitat. With a significant portion of Andros being comprised of this habitat, the major discovery may indicate that the species is more abundant than previously estimated.
As a result of his efforts Rolle, who landed a pristine job shortly after graduation with BNT, was also featured in the Audubon Society magazine, “Birds Mean Business”. The profile, which explains that the project was launched with the goal of reversing the Bahama Oriole’s decline through research, conservation and education, highlights how being trained as a guide led to his success with the Bahama Oriole Project.
“On the first day of fieldwork in 2016, Rolle discovered an active nest with two adult Bahama Orioles and several fledglings. The nest was not in a coconut tree, as expected, but in a Caribbean pine. On following days, Rolle’s team found another nest in a thatch palm and several more pairs of birds with territories in the pine forest. The discovery of pine forest-nesting overturned previous assumptions about Bahama Oriole breeding ecology,” the Audubon Society’s article said.
“With the finding we realized that there was more habitat and potentially more birds than anyone thought before,” Rolle told the society. “That was very good news for the bird.”
BAMSI continues to support the development of a conservation minded citizenry by building partnerships with both regional and local environmental groups that provide opportunities and exposure for its students and staff.