Past Research Projects

Stack, Sara. (2015) Effects of the Emerald Ash Borer, Agrilus planipennis, Infestation on Carabidae Abundance and Diversity in Southern Michigan.

This study was conducted June to September 2014 at eight different locations in the southern regions of Michigan, one of which was the Arboretum. Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is an Asian species, invasive to Michigan, whose larvae consume the phloem of ash trees. It was brought to North America in the early 1990s and has spread across the country, killing tens of millions of native ash trees. Carabidae is a family of large ground beetles that serve as useful invertebrate biodiversity indicators. This study explored how ash tree mortality, as a result of emerald ash borer (EAB) invasion, affected Carabidae species abundance and diversity in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Dr. Sara Tanis, Visiting Professor of Biology, supervised this project.

Grimmer, Jared. (2015) Do Bees Prefer Spotted Knapweed Over Other Co-Flowering Plant Species?

Spotted knapweed, a noxious and invasive species, is a biennial herb native to Eurasia that was introduced to North America during the late 1800’s. It exists as a floral resource for many insect pollinators, particularly bee species. This study used field and laboratory approaches to investigate the attractiveness to bees of knapweed flowers compared to those of co-occurring plant species. Dr. Ann Fraser, Department of Biology, supervised this study.

Saulles, Ariel. (2008) Effects of Land use in Wetlands: A Case Study of the Lillian Anderson Arboretum.

In 2007, subdivision was built adjacent to the wetland of the Arboretum, and concerns about its effects on the wetland have been raised. The effect that the building of even a small subdivision may have on a wetland could be great. In order to measure any effects that this subdivision may have in the future, the wetland was tested for a variety of common contaminants and wetland health indicators including calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, persistent organics, nitrates, pH, and alkalinity. Using various testing techniques, and analysis of water, sediment and plant samples, this study created a baseline profile of the wetland.  This project was supervised by Dr. Joan Esson and Dr. Jennifer Furchak, Department of Chemistry.

Waller, Joseph. (2006). Invertebrate Diversity in Old-Field Sites in Southwest Michigan: Assessment of Indicator Taxa and Examination of Ecological Correlates of Diversity

Quantifying and cataloguing invertebrate diversity is important for understanding the ecosystems that exist around us. It is also of pressing importance to examine the relationship of invasive species on the ecosystems in which they exist. In this study invertebrate diversity was examined in old-field sites in southwest Michigan using pitfall trapping. of 220 different morphospecies identified, the most common included springtails and sowbugs, while the most widespread included springtails and Aphaenogaster ants. The effectiveness of using ants, spiders, and beetles as indicator taxa for greater insect and invertebrate diversity was examined at old-field sites in southwest Michigan. This study was supervised by Dr. Ann Fraser, Department of Biology.

Rohde, Ashley. (2006) Host Plant and Natural Enemy Influences on Survivorship in the Milkweed Leaf Miner Liriomyza Asc/Epiadis

The debate over the relative importance of bottom up and top down interactions in trophic systems has been a focus of ecological research for years. Asclepias syriaca, or the common milkweed, is a plant that grows in the northern United States and southern Canada and produces toxic cardenolides and thick latex as a defense against herbivory. This study was conducted to determine whether top down or bottom up interactions have a greater influence on the leaf miner fly species Liriomyza asclepiadis, which lives and feeds on A. syriaca, and in doing so also collected basic life history information for this species. Dr. Steven Malcolm, Western Michigan University Department of Biology, and Dr. Ann Fraser, Kalamazoo College Department of Biology, supervised this project.

Traxler-Ballew, Jonas. (2004). Density Independent Gall Dispersion in a Willow Complex

Galls are complex plant-parasite interactions in which plants encapsulate and house the attacker, providing food and shelter space in a structure called a gall. Plant galls are common and widespread and can be found on plants. The plant grows abnormally at the site where it is wounded by the parasite, forming the gall by its own cell growth. This study investigated the  significance of density dependence in galling dispersal in a clonal patch of the willow Salix interior, which grows in thick clonal patches on moist sandy soils, in Southwestern Michigan. Dr. Binney Girdler supervised this project.

Augustine, Andrea. (1999) Effects of a Highway on Plant Species Composition and Diversity of a Southwestern Michigan Wetland.

This project studied the effects of a state highway (M43) on an adjacent wetland community in the Lillian Anderson Arboretum. Six transects were established perpendicular to M43 within one hectare area of the wetland; plant species composition and frequency were sampled at six points along each transect and on the roadbank above the wetland. Groundwater pH, conductivity and osmolarity of a subset of the 35 sample points was measured. Dr. Heather Reynolds and Dr. Paul Sotherland, Department of Biology, supervised this project.