Campus project counts feline residents

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A feline campus resident "marked" during the February cat-counting project (COURTESY PHOTO).

By Shaikha Almaazmi

UNIVERSITY CITY, SHARJAH – The American University of Sharjah’s advanced biology labs sent students outdoors to study cats on campus Feb 19 and 26.

The experiment was performed for the Ecology course. It consisted of dividing students into groups and assigning each a specific area of the university.

The lab experiment was called “Mark and Recapture,” which is about calculating the feline population, said AUS biology professor Aaron Bartholomew.

Students “marked” campus cats in selected areas by photographing them, often from afar, said Bartholomew.  They then used a formula to estimate the total number of cats instead of counting each one.

He said that each year in Ecology, students have arrived at estimates ranging from 110 to 150 cats on campus.

The most helpful thing about this particular lab was that it makes one engage with the process instead of reading about it, said Fatima Alshakarchi, an environmental science student partaking in the study., which makes learning easier and more fun.

“The most interesting thing about this lab is cats, I just love cats,” Alshakarchi said.