Fluorescent tape on backpacks?

It's a population study

If you see students with bright orange tape tied to their backpacks roaming around campus this week, don’t be alarmed. It’s not an invasion from our rivals but just part of a biology lab project running March 6-8.

Students in eight sections of the Biology 301 lab will practice a series of marking and capturing methods throughout the Horseshoe and outside Russell House as a way to learn about estimating population. From determining the number of individuals left in an endangered species to calculating how many humans reside in a given area, estimating population size is often necessary to carry out an ecological study.

The class members, equipped with brightly colored marking tape, will walk around campus and ask their peers to tie a section of the tape on backpacks. Students who choose to participate will be asked to leave tape on through Thursday as part of the study.

“A common procedure for estimating population size is to capture, mark and release a subset of the population like we will be simulating with passing out the tape to students on campus,” says William “Trey” Franklin, ecology and evolution lab manager and instructor in biological sciences. “This method is particularly useful for mobile individuals and uses a series of sampling events instead of just one, making it perfect for eight sections of our lab to estimate the population size students on USC’s main campus.”

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