This educational collaboration between Washington University's Tyson Research Center and the Missouri Botanical Garden's Shaw Nature Reserve is designed to engage St. Louis area high school students in scientifically-based exploration of the natural world. Linked programs of field training (SIFT) and field research (TERF) provide teenagers with experiences that realistically reflect research in environmental biology. Participating teens learn a variety of field investigation skills and then have the opportunity to put those new skills to work assisting career scientists with real research projects.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Forest Ecology Dynamics Plot - June


TERFers on the Forest Ecology Dynamics Plot (FEDP) Team have been hard at work during the month of June. The two high schoolers, Adil Hassan and Alex Duchild, have been helping the Forest Team plot out and sample a 11 hectare plot here at Tyson. Led by Dr. Jonathan Myers, this project is surveying a forest plot that was apart of a thesis project 30 years ago.

Adil Hassan taking a break in the forest during a long day of work.

The goal of this project is to ID every tree within the plot to create a new census to compare to the one from 30 years ago. Creating a new census will allow for a large scale model of the forest to be made. This would be a unique creation seeing as there has not been much investigation into temperate forests such as this. Most forest studies on such a large scale have been conducted on tropical forests.

Since this project requires so much data to be collected, Adil and Alex have been such a huge contribution to the team. They have helped gather and record data as well as create new tags for trees that need to be identified.

Adil and Alex creating metal tags that will be nailed into the identified trees.

Alex stringing a newly made tag onto it's metal string.

While this project is still young and will be on going, there has already been some data gathered to compare to the results from the 30 year old thesis. An invasive tree, Alianthus altissima (Tree of Heaven) has decreased in prevalence within the plot. This could mean that a healthy ecosystem could show resistance to an invasive species. Another piece of interesting data has been in the introduction of the invasive Lonicera maackii, better known as Bush Honeysuckle. The team is excited to see the role this invasive will play throughout this project.

So even though they have been extremely busy, the 2 forest TERFers have expressed how much they enjoy this work.

"There's just something about being in the forest early in the morning when no one else is around that is just so amazing and relaxing," says Adil Hassan.

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