Biological Diversity on a Northeast Ohio College Campus

Kent State UniversityBiologyEducation
Open Access
DOI: 10.18258/1868
$511
Raised
102%
Funded on 3/26/14
Successfully Funded
  • $511
    pledged
  • 102%
    funded
  • Funded
    on 3/26/14

About This Project

"Biodiversity" describes how many and what kind of organisms live in a place. It is an important measure of how well a habitat is doing and helpful in deciding conservation practices. It also provides useful descriptive information about a place in general. Furthermore, information on biodiversity can be used to look at how similar are various areas, and which areas- when protected- would benefit the most organisms.

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What is the context of this research?

Northeast Ohio, like much of the United States, has a very fragmented landscape. In this area, there is a complex mix of urban, rural, industrial, and other landscape uses. Interspersed in the mix are chunks of green spaces, parks, and protected areas. Home of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Northeast Ohio has a rich and diverse collection of habitats in those pockets of conserved land, ranging from bogs and fens, to ponds and streams, to hardwood forest and secondary succession fields.

This diversity of habitats leads to a diversity of organisms, the real interest of this research project. While surveying the Trumbull campus flora and fauna, we'll also be looking at the Trumbull County parks property adjacent to the campus, to expand the number of sampled habitats, number of organisms represented, and to compare "pristine" habitats to "developed" habitats, as a demonstration of the conservation value of preserving green space (this data set will be used in my Life on Planet Earth class). Information on the parks property will be shared with Trumbull County Parks District, with whom I am partnering in exchange for access to the park's property.

What is the significance of this project?

Primarily, this project will beneficially affect the students involved in the research, as they learn taxonomy, identification, ecology, and diversity through this endeavor. However, this research will also add to the general understanding of what organisms exist where in Northeast Ohio, possibly add new records for some species- invasive or native- as we survey the areas. This research will also serve as a demonstration of undergraduate research as a learning tool, and the abilities of undergraduate research to improve student outcomes while also adding to original research. At the same time, this survey of organisms found in local parks will serve as a source of information for Trumbull County Metro Parks on the diversity found in and around their parks properties.

What are the goals of the project?

During this research project, my Biological Diversity students and I will:

  • Collect specimens of representative species found on KSU Trumbull campus, and in Trumbull County Metro Parks nearby
  • Identify these specimens to species or smallest possible taxonomic unit
  • Preserve the plant, invertebrate, and fungi specimens collected during this semester in the appropriate manner
  • Preserve high quality digital images of bird, reptile, mammal, and amphibian specimens, as well as prints, to be bound into a "Biological Diversity of Warren, Ohio" binder
  • Digitally record amphibian choruses found in the study areas
  • Make these collections available to future classes of Biological Diversity as a teaching tool which can be expanded by surveying and sampling in other seasons and areas
  • List the organisms found during this study as an online database on http://digitalresearchsymposium.com/
  • Present findings at the Kent State Undergraduate Research Symposium

Budget

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For this project, I'll need collecting and preserving materials for my students, as well as a few guide books to help them with the identifications. I'll also be need some printing for the final campus book, and classroom teaching specimens of vertebrates for display and practice (we won't be preserving any vertebrates, as they would need to be covered under IACUC protocols, and would require more extensive techniques than I'm comfortable trying with an lower level class at this point).
For the vertebrate organisms that will be sampled but not collected and preserved, we will need to set up a bird feeding station, where students can monitor the visiting birds and photograph the species that they see feeding there. This component will also serve as a data set to show preferences of food types in my Life on Planet Earth class, also at Trumbull. We'll be using cover boards to attract invertebrates, reptiles, and amphibians, and lights to attract nocturnal insects for collection over night. While I have some materials of my own, I would like to purchase equipment for the class that can stay at the university for posterity, and consumables also need purchased for this project. While I have a fund-raising goal, I'm also flexible in what equipment will be bought or borrowed, and in what quantities those materials will be purchase.

Endorsed by

Meet the Team

Lisa Regula Meyer
Lisa Regula Meyer

Team Bio

Lisa has studied amphibians since her undergraduate days at Ohio State, and continues to have a fascination for all things "slimy." Her dissertation investigated the interactions of invasive plants and native amphibians. She has taught various undergraduate courses for biology majors and non-majors across a handful of Northeast Ohio universities. During undergraduate work, she and a number of friends surveyed the biodiversity of the Tecumseh Natural Area on OSU Lima campus, and this current project is an extension and revisiting of that project. She believes that an active, engaged classroom is the best way to help students learn effectively, and that exposing students to original research allows them to feel ownership of the scientific process while improving learning outcomes. At the same time, partnerships between students and teachers build a "community of learning" where both parties are respected and acknowledged as having worthwhile perspectives on the topic.

Additional Information

While I'm not adding incentives or rewards for his project in order to keep the ancillary costs for this project low, all funders will get a heart-felt, hand-written thank you note on a note card featuring images of organisms that we identify during this project, as well as being listed in the guide book that will be printed at the end of this research. Everyone who is interested in this project will get to follow the project as we go along with updates here, a Flickr feed for photos, and see the end product at http://digitalresearchsymposium.com/. Any questions can be directed to Lisa.

Project Backers

  • 8Backers
  • 102%Funded
  • $511Total Donations
  • $63.88Average Donation
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