Cayden Whipkey

Undergraduate Researcher   return to map   return to student search


Nampa, ID (Canyon County)


College of Western Idaho
Undergraduate student

Feature Article    Feature Article   

Funded by EPSCoR Award:

GEM3 | OIA-1757324

Research Location(s):

Castle Rocks State Park, Idaho

COUNTIES:  Cassia, Ada

LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT(S):  District 27, District 19

Research Statement:

Cayden, is an undergraduate student from College of Western Idaho, majoring in Biology with an emphasis in Natural Resources. During the summer of 2022, he worked under the mentorship of Dr. Caughlin on a SARE project focused on “Investigating the relationship between sagebrush recruitment and early-spring snow patterns.” In his SARE position, Cayden’s work focused on using drone imagery and machine learning to predict which sagebrush plants will flower which allowed him to do GIS remote sensing work. Upon completion of his SARE experience, he joined the BSU VIP program with Dr. Trevor Caughlin’s lab. Within this research project, Cayden was able to continue using drone imagery and machine learning to predict which sagebrush plants will flower. This would aid in conservation efforts where seed is collected and spread where needed. Sagebrush does not recover quickly from wildfire and supports a variety of different animals. This includes jackrabbits, mule deer, sage grouse, and many more. A healthy sagebrush steppe also helps fight invasive plants from taking over the local ecosystem and reduces wildfire severity. For this reason, when an area is struggling possibly after fire, seeds are collected from sagebrush and spread to help restore that healthy balance.

Research Impact:

Cayden's research will aid in future conservation efforts in Idaho, and help determine where seed is collected and spread.