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Summer Research Experience: Student Blog

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Fungal diversity in response to nitrogen deposition and soil warming

June 30, 2010, by Samuel Perez
Hello everyone, my name is Samuel Perez and I am working on microbial communities at Harvard Forest with Professor Anne Pringle from Harvard University. I am a rising senior majoring in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. This summer, I am working with decomposer fungi in the Chronic Nitrogen Plots and the Soil Warming Plots in Barre Woods. My project at the Harvard Forest is to study the effects of nitrogen deposition and soil warming on the species diversity of decomposer fungi. The process of decomposition is important because it allows nutrients sequestered in living organisms to return...Read more >

Further explorations of Harvard Forest

June 29, 2010, by Julianne Henry: Outreach and Communications Intern
On Thursday, I noticed that we were running low on our cache of blog posts. Based on this observation, I concluded that it was once again time for me to bust out my camera and go adventuring. And by "adventuring," I mean "cow visiting." Upon exiting the office I share with Aleta (an REU proctor) and venturing into the hallway, I was confronted by a curious sight. At first I thought it was some sort of experiment, but it turned out Maryette (another REU proctor) had set up a tent in the basement hallway so that it could dry. Making my way past the tent obstacle, I ventured outside to the field...Read more >

What are you up to now?

June 28, 2010
Brian Warshay
Brian Warshay REU '05 Mentor: Jacque Mohan Project: Physiological Girdling of Forest Trees: Developments of a New Method to Understand Soil Respiration Hometown: Eastchester, NY College and major: Cornell University, Natural Resources & Environmental Engineering Technology (double major) What you miss most about the REU program:The people and friends met there and the good times we had after our work days were complete. What you miss least about the REU program: The mosquitoes and humidity. What about the REU program has stuck with you: My appreciation for the dedication and efforts that...Read more >

Students consider "right vs. wrong" in ecological research

June 25, 2010, by Aleta Wiley
Last Tuesday, all of the summer REU students participated in Ethics Day, an annual event held at Harvard Forest to help the students consider some of the ethical dilemmas they may face while conducting ecological research. The program started with a presentation by Ben Minteer, a professor of environmental ethics at Arizona State University. He began by posing a "thought experiment" to the group: If only one human being remained on the Earth, and humans would be extinct after his/her death, and for whatever reason, it would make this person really happy to wipe out other species to extinction...Read more >

Woodpeckers and tree care

June 24, 2010, by Autumn Alexandra Amici and Anthony Rivera
The overall goal of this project is to understand the effects of tree care practices on habitat for cavity nesting birds, primarily woodpeckers. Most cavity nesting birds seek out dead snags for creating a nest. As cavity excavators, these birds provide habitat elements for a suite of species and are therefore important for biodiversity. While the dead snags that are important for these cavity-nesting birds may go unnoticed in a preserved area, they can be hazardous in towns and cities. By assessing the prevalence of cavity nesting birds in snags throughout an urban to wild land gradient, we...Read more >

A weekend away from Harvard Forest

June 23, 2010, by Sarah Gray
Sarah Gray Local Ice Cream
Last weekend, I attended a summer solstice party with some of my friends. Christina Stinson, a researcher at Harvard Forest, was the host of the event and is the mentor of my friend. The party was quiet, but nice. With plenty of good food to eat and good company to share, it made for an eventful afternoon. We played games and relaxed on what was a beautifully sunny day. On Sunday, a group of students went hiking in the Blue Hills right outside of Boston. It was very muggy that day, and eventually led to thunderstorms that rained down on us halfway through the hike. It felt good though,...Read more >

What are you up to now?

June 22, 2010
Alison Grantham
Alison Grantham REU '08 Mentor: Steve Wofsy Hometown: Los Angeles, CA Major/Minor: Biological Sciences/ Environmental Studies, '08 What you miss most about the REU program?: The setting and atmosphere was so nice for focusing on science and making great friends. I loved going for evening runs in the woods and taking weekend hikes and trips with other REUs. What you miss least about the REU program?: The mosquitoes. What about the REU program has stuck with you?: The project I worked on has guided my subsequent career moves, so I guess C and N dynamics and climate implications stuck. Have you...Read more >

"It's the network" - How personal connections shape land use decisions

June 21, 2010, by Megan Jones and Kristen Schipper
Megan Jones and Kristen Schipper
In the social science lab, conveniently located above the kitchen, we are working on the "It's the Network" project. Our goal is to assess - by means of a survey - how personal connections shape decisions about private forest use. We're interested in who people talk to (neighbors, foresters, loggers, friends, etc.), what they talk about (harvesting, conservation easement, selling their land, etc.) and the various levels of involvement and helpfulness of different types of people. We will be mailing our survey to 500 Vermont landowners in Windham County, and 500 New Hampshire landowners in...Read more >

Whale-watching from Gloucester, MA

June 18, 2010, by Aleta Wiley
REU Whale Watch 2010
Last weekend, 10 students drove to Gloucester, 2 hours from Harvard Forest, to go on a whale-watching boat tour. The weather was very drizzly and foggy, but the tour leaders were optimistic: "9 times out of 10, the fog lifts as we head out to sea", they said. As the boat puttered out of the harbor, students were treated to beautiful, though foggy, views of the New England fishing town, wooden sailboats, and quaint lighthouses. Unfortunately, the fog never lifted and we continued motoring around the Bay all afternoon with 300 feet of visibility. The educators on board from The Ocean Alliance...Read more >

Paleoecology - in the field, in the lab, and on film

June 17, 2010, by Allison Gillette
David Foster and Allison Gillette Paleoecology
Hi, my name is Allison and I am working on Paleoecology with Wyatt Oswald. About 5,000 years ago, all the Oaks and Hemlocks disappeared from New England, rapidly changing our ecosystem. Today, all the Oaks are dying on Martha's Vineyard in a similar fashion. Before our current ecosystem is radically altered, we would like to figure out what is causing this phenomenon. In order to do this, we travel to ponds across New England collecting sediment cores. The cores can be viewed like a timeline (the deeper the core the farther back in time). We then use the mud from the cores to determine...Read more >

Field trip to the Harvard Museum of Natural History

June 16, 2010, by Aleta Wiley: REU Summer Proctor
Meredith Kueny checks out specimens of two-headed snakes
L ast Friday, the whole REU program spent the day on a behind-the-scenes tour at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Split into two groups, the students visited five departments: Herpetology (reptiles and amphibians), Ornithology (birds), the Botany libraries and the Herbaria (plants), and Entomology (insects). Curators in each department spoke with the students about their methods for collecting specimens, the importance of preserving natural history collections for scientific research, and the different ways that they preserve and protect the specimens from damage and decay. The curators...Read more >

Community ecology of "sarracenia pupurea" pitcher plants

June 15, 2010, by Roxanne Ardeshiri
Pitcher Plant
My name is Roxanne Ardeshiri , I'm an undergraduate at the University of California-Berkeley, and I'm studying the community ecology of Sarracenia pupurea Pitcher Plants with Benjamin Baiser at the Harvard Forest. Because Pitcher Plants are essentially microecosystems, we are studying their community ecology to ultimately create model food webs for these systems.We will be measuring decomposition of prey (an ant) as a means of measuring the functionality of the system. This experiment will be conducted in the greenhouse, but all of the species we are using will have been collected from...Read more >

Luna moths on the nightshift

June 14, 2010, by Adam Clark and Margaurete Romero
Luna Moth
The Warm Ants project consists of many mini projects taking place within the chambers. One of these projects is a 24-hour baiting, which means that we must observe which ants are attracted to tuna baits set out in the different temperature chambers for all hours of the day, on the hour. Two of us – Margaurete and Adam – took the night shift from 10pm to 6am, and encountered an unexpected visitor. While waiting near the shed to continue the data collecting, a large insect flew right into us, startling the stillness of the night. As it landed, we were so surprised to see a large Luna moth...Read more >

“What these numbers actually mean”

June 11, 2010, by Aleta Wiley: REU Summer Proctor
Maya, Joanna, and Claudia using a Portable Photosynthesis System.
Yesterday, I tagged along with three students working on a collaborative project who were out, collecting data in the field, for the first time this summer without their research mentors. It is amazing how much they all have learned in less than two weeks here at Harvard Forest! For their project, they are studying changes in soil respiration under varying scenarios. Yesterday, they were working in the "dirt plots" – a series of 21 plots (each about 10 x 10 ft) in the Tom Swamp Tract of the Forest. The plots had been subjected to different treatments; for example, some had all of the detritus...Read more >

The warm ants group

June 10, 2010, by Adam Clark, Erik Oberg, and Margaurete Romero
Margaurete collecting butterflies.
In their third week, the Warm Ants Triumvirate has dived into both the long term "Warm Ants" project and individual projects with a burning desire to elucidate the effects of climate change on ants. Each member is responsible for helping with the long term "Warm Ants" experiment which involves a monthly 24 hour baiting study and monthly pitfall trapping. In addition, each is responsible for his or her individual project involving ant nests, mutualism, and thermal tolerance. Daily tasks have varied from spending time in the lab identifying ants, sorting pitfall collections from previous months...Read more >

Student highlight: Exploring Harvard Forest

June 7, 2010, by Julianne Henry: Outreach and Communications Intern
This cow did not appreciate the paparazzi treatment.
Does it count as exploring if the location is already well-documented? At any rate, as the commuting Outreach and Communications Intern, I usually don't see much of the Harvard Forest property apart from the office I share with Aleta (one of our proctors) in the basement of Shaler Hall. Today seemed like a good day to change that, so I picked a door and walked out of it, determined to familiarize myself with my surroundings. First word that comes to mind is GREEN. It's June, so everywhere you look there is bright greenery slamming itself straight into your eyeballs. This is more pleasant than...Read more >

Undergraduate interns arrive for summer program in ecology

June 1, 2010, by Aleta
REU Group Photo 2010
34 undergraduate students have arrived as part of the Harvard Forest summer research program in ecology. Students have come from colleges and universities all over the United States to participate in on-going research projects for twelve weeks. As thelargest cohort in the program's history, these students will work on a wide diversity of projects, covering topics such as land-use history, phenology, plant physiology, invasive species, insect ecology, and climate change. Students also participate in seminars, discussions on ethics in science, and career-building and community service...Read more >