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Vincent Jacob O'Leary, 17, of Wheeling, analyzed the behavior of two species of invasive crayfish for his Intel Science Talent Search animal sciences project. Compelled by the increasing threat of the invasive species Orconectes rusticus and Orconectes virilis, Vincent conducted a series of observational studies between 2009 and 2012 both in the field and in his home laboratory. His observations of O. rusticus suggest that the species is not excessively aggressive toward native crayfish until it has secured shelter, contradicting conventional assumptions. He also tracked the daily movements of O. virilis using radio transmitters and found that they preferred stagnant stream beds with ample silt. Vincent's unexpected findings suggest that maintaining healthy streams to eliminate the silt substrate would be effective at deterring the invasive crayfish. His research lays the groundwork for a proactive approach towards combating invasive species, a threat that results in damages of $120 billion per year in the United States. The son of Craig and Emma O'Leary, Vincent is an Eagle Scout and works at the Oglebay Good Zoo. He attends Wheeling Central Catholic High School and captains the swim team, in addition to acting in school plays.
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