Spring 2017 Internships through OWU at the Stratford Ecological Center

Stratford is offering an 8-hour-per-week internship (120 hours total) to Ohio Wesleyan students for Spring 2017. Upon completion of these hours, along with appropriate readings, research projects, and other academic components, students can receive class credit through Ohio Wesleyan.

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Internships through OWU at the Stratford Ecological Center

Stratford Ecological Center is a 501(C)(3) that offers a working organic 236-acre education and research farm and nature preserve located on Liberty Rd., approximately 5 miles south from Ohio Wesleyan. Stratford is offering an 8-hour-per-week internship (120 hours total) to Ohio Wesleyan students for Spring 2017. Upon completion of these hours, along with appropriate readings, research projects, and other academic components, students can receive class credit through Ohio Wesleyan. Stratford’s varied programming and many natural environments allow for a range of internship topics, including:

Sustainable Agriculture- How can we raise meat, dairy, fiber and egg producing animals, agronomic and horticultural crops in line with natural cycles, while also producing enough to feed customers and support a business? Interact with goats, sheep, hogs, cattle, and chickens while also learning about crop rotations, farm equipment, and other skills.

Organic Gardening- Learn to start, plant, and raise a variety of fruit and vegetable crops in an organic fashion in the field, garden and greenhouse. Composting is an important skill!

beekeeping-class

Environmental Education– Assist in planning and running field trip programs for kindergarteners and first graders. Develop environmental curricula, educational tools, or adult education classes!

Maple Syrup Production (Agroforestry)- Interested in the way that maple syrup is extracted and made? How does this industry allow forests to be preserved, while also being utilized by humans? (Maple sap used to produce maple syrup only flows for about 6 weeks from February through March, so semester-long internships would require additional subjects, or extended agroforesty research).

Invasive Species Management- This 95 acre State Nature Preserve surrounding three sides of the farm at Stratford requires maintenance in the form of invasive species removal. Learn how to identify and remove these plants, and research their effects on Ohio ecosystems.

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Apiculture– Shadow our beekeeper to learn about bees and their management, queen rearing, nook production, pollination services, and honey production. Bumblebees are the recommended focus of spring internships, due to the seasonality of bee activity.

Non-profit Management/ Marketing and Development- Learn about the business side of Stratford, including public relations, marketing, advertising, community connection, donor cultivation and management, and grant-writing.

These are just a sample of possible internship topics at Stratford. As an intern, we at Stratford will encourage you to find where our needs and your passions and interests intersect. We’d love to hear your ideas for research, experiential learning and new initiatives using the resources at Stratford!

Please contact Dr. Laurie Anderson at ljanders@owu.edu for permission to register. Students will receive one upper level course credit in the Botany/Microbiology department. The course will be graded satisfactory/unsatisfactory. Limit: 5 students – first come, first served. Students must arrange their own transportation to Stratford Ecological Center. See syllabus on the next page.

Stratford Ecological Center Internship

BOMI 495 – Spring 2017

Instructor for Spring 2017: Dr. Laurie Anderson (BOMI 495)

 

Course Objectives

  • Gain practical experience in organic and sustainable agriculture, environmental education, local ecology, local food issues, land management, non-profit management, and related areas.
  • Build critical thinking, research, and writing skills by pursuing and completing an independent project developed in collaboration with Stratford staff, and submitting a final report on this work.

General Information

Stratford Ecological Center is a 501(C)(3) that offers a working organic 236-acre education and research farm and nature preserve located on Liberty Rd., approximately 5 miles south from Ohio Wesleyan. Stratford offers a 120 hour (average 8 hours per week for 15 weeks) internship to Ohio Wesleyan students. Upon completion of these hours, along with appropriate readings and activities related to a project developed by the student in consultation with the Stratford staff and their faculty advisor at Ohio Wesleyan, students can receive class credit through Ohio Wesleyan. Stratford’s diverse programming and many natural environments allow for a range of subjects for the internship including apiculture, organic gardening, sustainable agriculture, invasive species management, agroforestry and maple syrup production, environmental education, and non-profit management. Projects may explore multiple topics as long as there is a central area of focus.

Students who successfully complete the internship will receive an upper level credit towards graduation and/or their major, but do not receive a letter grade. A grade of S (Satisfactory) or U (Unsatisfactory – no credit received) will be awarded.

Details and Requirements

  • Students are expected to work at Stratford for an average of 8 hours per week for 15 weeks, although weekly deviations up or down from this standard may be required for a particular internship, given the demands of a student’s specific project.
  • Students must submit journal entries biweekly to Blackboard, i.e., on the Friday of weeks 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 14 of the semester. These should include reports of your activities, updates on progress, next steps planned, and reflections on what has been learned to date.
  • At minimum, each journal entry should be about two typed, double-spaced pages.
  • Journals should be submitted biweekly, even if you had reduced hours at Stratford during that period. Just submit a statement that explains the situation, and describe plans for the upcoming time period.
  • Journal entries must be submitted on time. Failure to submit two journal entries results in no internship credit.
  • Each student must have at least one mid-semester meeting with their faculty advisor to discuss progress to date. This must be done during weeks 7-9 of the semester. You or your faculty advisor may request additional meetings, as needed.
  • Final Report. This is a final paper describing the student’s project and its findings or outcomes. Each report should be 8-10 double-spaced, typed pages in length, include a background section with references to appropriate sources and an attached bibliography, a description of project goals or hypotheses (if the project is an experiment), a description of activities or methods, and a discussion of project findings or outcomes. The final draft is due no later than the last final exam of the semester. A copy of the Final Report must be submitted to Stratford Ecological Center as well.

 

Farm / Food / Environmental / Sustainability Internships at Stratford and Methodist Theological School of Ohio

Ohio Wesleyan is offering several internships at two locations for the Fall 2016 semester. Opportunities are at the Stratford Ecological Center and the Seminary Hill Farm, part of the Methodist Theological School. Both are just south of OWU’s campus.

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Ohio Wesleyan is offering several internships at two locations for the Fall 2016 semester. Opportunities are at the Stratford Ecological Center and the Seminary Hill Farm, part of the Methodist Theological School. Both are just south of OWU’s campus.

Opportunities at the Stratford Ecological Center are detailed in the flyer below (click for PDF).

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Opportunities at the Seminary Hill Farm, part of the Methodist Theological School of Ohio are detailed in the flyer below (click for PDF).

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The internships can count towards your Environmental Studies independent study requirement (for ES majors). They will also count towards the proposed Food Minor (to be voted on by faculty later this month). Yes we have transportation options for carless interns. Yes I will accept a bushel of rutabagas you grow as part of the internship.

2015 OWU Campus Bird Nesting Season Data

Earlier this year a posting about Bird, Bee & Bat Habitat on OWU’s Campus detailed the construction and placement of, among other things, a series of bird houses and feeders on OWU’s campus. Dick Tuttle has documented the bird’s use of the houses and feeders over the summer and provides the following report.

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Earlier this year a posting about Bird, Bee & Bat Habitat on OWU’s Campus detailed the construction and placement of, among other things, a series of bird houses and feeders on OWU’s campus by Jayne Ackerman (OWU ’15, jjackerm@owu.edu), Blake Fajack (OWU OWU ’16, zbfajack@owu.edu) & Dick Tuttle (OWU ’73, ohtres@cs.com).

Dick has documented the bird’s use of the houses and feeders over the summer and provides the following report.

Bird Houses

All four nestboxes with 1-1/8 inch entrances produced a total of 23 native birds. The small entrance holes are designed to exclude non-native House Sparrows. Here is a detailed report on those boxes. Boxes #1 and #2 are in the back yard of the Tree House. Box #1 raised six House Wrens with the box being active with eggs and young from May 16 – June 19. Box #2 fledged five House Wrens and was active between July 6 and August 7.

Box #3 stands at the corner of the Student Observatory directly north of the Tree House and across a parking lot. House Wrens caused two chickadee nest attempts to fail before the wrens raised six young after laying their first egg on June 16 and fledging their last nestling on July 19.

Box #4 is located among evergreen trees between the Hamilton-Williams Campus Center and the Mowry Alumni Center. A first nest attempt by Carolina Chickadees failed after four eggs were laid but the second nest was successful between May 2 and June 6 to fledge six chickadees. I have not removed the old nest from this box.

A Wood Duck box located between Delaware Run (creek) and Henry Street remained inactive all season. Perhaps, lights from the stadium are a problem. Relocating the large nest box should be considered once Delaware City completes their plans for the stream where it runs through campus. Wood Duck boxes can also raise Eastern Screech Owls.

On April 13, 2015, students Jayne Ackerman and Blake Fajack and I installed four Carolina Wren boxes on two Student Living Units after three or so other students helped with construction and painting. I did not check these boxes until the end of the season and I only looked at them from the ground. The two boxes at the Inter-Faith House showed no signs of use while one of two boxes at the Citizens of the World House had nesting material sticking above the entrance slot. The box had been active and is located near the ceiling of the carport. My advice is to leave the nest material in the box so Carolina Wrens can roost in it this winter. If the nest contains any moss, it belongs to a Carolina Wren. A House Sparrow’s nest will not have moss, but will have grass with some trash items, etc.

Bird Feeders

I serviced the bird feeder station in front of the Chappelear Drama Center all summer while I only filled the thistle feeders at the station at the Science Center. I reactivated the Science Center feeders on Sunday, August 23 to greet returning students.

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The large hopper feeder at the Science Center is one of two that I built for OWU. The second one resides in my basement waiting for an idea for its location. I would like to install it where students live and near a main artery where it could be watched as students walk from their campus “homes” to and from their classes.

The ears of corn on the hopper feeder are for Blue Jays. Blue Jays are common at my home, but so far, none of the ears of corn on campus have been pecked at. Even the resident crows have avoided the corn. Maybe, once the second hopper is installed, I believe Blue Jays will become more visible on campus.

Conserve on,
Dick Tuttle

Bird, Bee & Bat Habitat on OWU’s Campus

In order to mitigate the loss of habitat for wildlife we have began enhancing wildlife habitat across OWU’s campus. A few species were selected in order to jump start OWU’s involvement in rehabilitating habitat area within Delaware. Bats, birds, squirrels, and solitary bees are all common area natives and were targeted to boost ecosystem productivity due to their ecological importance.

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House Wren/Carolina Chickadee house installed on April 16, 2014 during a student event sponsored by the Landscape Course Connection. It now contains a Carolina Chickadee nest.

Jayne Ackerman (OWU ’15, jjackerm@owu.edu), Blake Fajack (OWU OWU ’16, zbfajack@owu.edu) & Dick Tuttle (OWU ’73, ohtres@cs.com)

Delaware County, Ohio, home of Ohio Wesleyan, is one of the fastest growing areas in the state [1]. As the county grows, the amount of wildlife habitat is drastically decreased through fragmentation and other anthropogenic interferences. In order to mitigate the loss of habitat for wildlife we have began enhancing wildlife habitat across OWU’s campus.

A few species were selected in order to jump start OWU’s involvement in rehabilitating habitat area within Delaware. Bats, birds, squirrels, and solitary bees are all common area natives and were targeted to boost ecosystem productivity due to their ecological importance [2][3][4].

Methods and Results

Our original goal for the project was to build and place bat boxes on campus since bats are in danger from habitat loss and important for pest control [19, 2]. We expanded the project to include bird houses and bee hotels because of their ecological usefulness for seed (birds [17]) and pollen (bees [20, 21]) dispersal [3]. OWU Alumnus Dick Tuttle joined our project, suggesting we build carolina wren nesting boxes and expand the project to include squirrel dens. Squirrels are important for tree growth and forest succession [4].

Dick Tuttle guided us on the construction of the bird houses and locations to hang them. We summarized our proposed work in a proposal and contacted OWU’s Buildings and Grounds (B&G) to get formal approval for the project [5]. Our proposal included general ecological support for the habitat enhancements, plans for the shelters (sources in references section at [6][7][8][9][17]), installation procedure [10][11][17], maintenance advice [12][13][17], and location suggestions.

The squirrel dens were dropped from the project because, given their size (and the need for three adjacent boxes) there was a lack of suitable locations for them [17]. The other dwellings remained on the list as we looked forward to the building process. Carlyle Ackerman (Jayne’s father) was the lead carpenter and designer of the bat boxes and a key collaborator in the project.

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Bat box construction, October 2014.

Two bat boxes were put together with the help of Mr. Ackerman [18]. This was one of the most time consuming aspects of the project.

When B&G accepted our proposal we contacted the moderators of the Small Living Units (SLUs) on campus, suggesting the SLUs would be a good location for the shelters. Several SLUs came forward: the Tree House, the Interfaith House, and the Citizens of the World House. It was decided that the bird houses would be placed at the Interfaith House and Citizens of the World House, and the bat boxes would be placed at the Tree House. Bee hotels would be hung up along the bike path outside of the Science Center and various other locations.

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Simple Bee Hotel Construction: reused plastic soda bottles with tops removed (above).

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Fill with cut pieces of dried bamboo (above) and place in bottles (below), packed (Fall 2014) for installation in Spring of 2015.

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An event was scheduled [14] to help build additional shelters and spread awareness in hopes of interesting campus groups to maintain and develop the shelters in the long term.

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Building Carolina Wren boxes, November 2014.

The event required us to collect necessary materials, tools, and also promotion for the event with social media postings. We also presented our work in class [22]. Emily Webb, Ellen Hughes, and Cindy Hastings attended the event. At the event we built 7 bee hotels, and Dick Tuttle assisted us in building 5 bird houses.

The final step of actually mounting the shelters was planned to happen in January 2015. Fall projects, like ours, suffer from the inevitable descent into winter. Both Jayne, Blake and Dick Tuttle committed to finishing the dwellings and installing them in the spring of 2015.

Spring 2015 Efforts and Results

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Bird feeders outside of the Schimmel Conrades Science Center (above) and Chapplear Drama Center(below). The feeders are currently maintained by OWU Alumni Dick Tuttle and we would like a student organization to take over maintenance of the feeders.

The feeder stands that hold four feeders are checked daily. Oil sunflower seeds are added to the milk carton feeders. The water bottle feeders are loaded with thistle seed for American Goldfinches and House Finches.

One bottle feeder at each stand has seed ports where American Goldfinches can feed while hanging up-side-down, a maneuver that House Finches cannot duplicate.

A small suet feeder hangs from one of the milk cartons and it is used by woodpeckers, nuthatches and chickadees.

A new hopper feeder was installed on April 27. It can go days before feed is depleted. Three ears of corn are attempts to attract Blue Jays, a species not yet seen at the feeder stations. Crows and grackles might also feed on the corn. Also, on each end of the hopper are compartments designed to hold suet and/or slices of bread, etc.

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Carolina Wren boxes painted (above) by residents of the SLUs where the boxes will be mounted, March 2015.

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April 25, 2015: Box 3 (above) at the student observatory has one egg in its moss nest.

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April 25, 2015: Box 4 between the Hamilton-Williams Center and the
Alumni Center. It contains three Carolina Chickadee eggs.

Future of the Project

General Maintenance of Dwellings

  • All of the wildlife dwellings need general monitoring to keep an eye out for wear and tear.
  • Occasional repairs or remounting may be needed depending on the amount of weathering.

Bee Hotel Maintenance

  • The simple design of the bee hotels may not allow them to last very long but they can be easily made and replaced.

Bat Box Maintenance

  • Bat boxes are self sufficient but sometimes pests like wasps will take over while bats are not using the boxes. These types of problems may require professional services.
  • If the bat boxes are not being used after 3 summers they will need relocated.
  • The SLUs that are hosting bat boxes will be expected to keep these maintenance requirements in mind.

Carolina Wren Nestbox Maintenance

  • Nestboxes will need cleaned once a year in the summer after birds have left the house.
  • The SLUs that are hosting nestboxes will be responsible for the cleaning.

Other wildlife home ideas

  • Larger bee hotels, lady bug homes, general bug hotels [15]
  • Bee hives
  • Squirrel dens [4, 8, 11]
  • Other bird houses: bluebird nest boxes or chimney swift tower [17]
  • Wildlife brush piles [16]
  • Bird of prey nesting platform

Recommendations

  • Getting the B&G proposal done as soon as possible is the number one thing to do when working on this type of project as they took a while to get back to us. Research is very important in case B&G has any questions or your project needs more scientific support.
  • Have a back-up plan. Original plans may not work out, so be sure to always have an alternative. Don’t be afraid if it is not as good as a place to put the shelter. Even the most poorly placed shelters will help B&G get used to the idea of having them around.
  • Try to start a native garden near the shelters, or mount the shelters in close proximity to a native plant garden. This helps attract the targeted wildlife to the shelter.

References

[1] Delaware County: http://www.co.delaware.oh.us

[2] Why Bats are Important: http://www.batconservation.org/bat-houses

[3] Why Bees are Important: http://www.esa.org/ecoservices/comm/body.comm.fact.poll.html

[4] Why Squirrels are Important: http://www.rossoscoiattolo.eu/en/role-ecosystem

[5] B&G Proposal: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6uLhpiaH654OGoxV1dtMjFsZ3M/view?usp=sharing

[6] Bee Hotel Plans: http://www.opalexplorenature.org/sites/default/files/7/file/How-to-make-a-bee-hotel.pdf

[7] Carolina Wren Nest Box Plans: http://www.wholehomenews.com/blog/Carolina-Wren-Nest-Box/239

[8] Squirrel Den Plans: http://www.helpingwildlife.org/images/squirrelnestbox.pdf

[9] Bat Box Plans: http://www.nwf.org/How-to-Help/Garden-for-Wildlife/Gardening-Tips/Build-a-Bat-House.aspx

[10] Bat Box Installation: http://www.batcon.org/pdfs/bathouses/InstallingYourBatHousebuilding.pdf

[11] Squirrel Den Installation: http://northernredsquirrels.org.uk/Red-Squirrel-Nesting-Box-Info.pdf

[12] Bat House Maintenance: http://bathouse.com/bat-house-maintenance

[13] Bird House Maintenance: http://www.birdhouses101.com/Care-Maintenance-Birdhouses.asp

[14] Facebook Event: http://www.birdhouses101.com/Care-Maintenance-Birdhouses.asp

[15] Bug Hotels: http://gardentherapy.ca/build-a-bug-hotel/

[16] Rabbit Brush Piles: http://dnr.wi.gov/files/PDF/pubs/wm/WM0221.pdf

[17] Dick Tuttle

[18] Carlyle Ackerman

[19] Sheffield, S.R., Shaw, J.H., Heidt, G.A., McClenaghan, L.R. 1992. Guidelines for the protection of bat roosts. Journal of Mammalogy 73: 707-710.

[20] MacIvor, J.S., Cabral, J.M., Packer, L. 2014. Pollen specialization by solitary bees in an urban landscape. Urban Ecosystems, 17: 139-147.

[21] Danforth, B. Bees. Current Biology, 17,5: R156-R161.

[22] Wildlife Home Presentation: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6uLhpiaH654ay1jYzRYSWRPT0k/view?usp=sharing

 

Ohio Wesleyan Salamander Habitat

A small wetlands area exists at the edge of Ohio Wesleyan’s campus, pinched between the recreational trail, US Highway 23, and OWU Athletic fields. This habitat, artificially created by the significant landscape modifications in the area over the past 100+ years, supports salamanders and other wildlife, despite poor water quality, noise, half-buried waste from an old Ohio Wesleyan dump, and garbage. This project builds on an earlier project that removed garbage from the area and provided a basic assessment of the location and animal species present.

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OWU’s Salamander Swamp                       

Fall 2013

Tiffany Green, Amy Downing, John Krygier, Sean Kinghorn, Thomas Wolber, Milagros Green, Sara Starzyx

Summary

Wildlife can thrive in even the most marginal of habitats. A small wetlands area exists at the edge of Ohio Wesleyan’s campus, pinched between the recreational trail, US Highway 23, and OWU Athletic fields. This habitat, artificially created by the significant landscape modifications in the area over the past 100+ years, supports salamanders and other wildlife, despite poor water quality, noise, half-buried waste from an old Ohio Wesleyan dump, and garbage. This project builds on an earlier project that removed garbage from the area and provided a basic assessment of the location and animal species present. Our goal for the current project is to consider the development of the area as an outdoor classroom and research location. To this end, we need to complete a more thorough assessment of animal and plants in the area, test the water (and potentially soil) and consider steps (short and long term) to enhance the habitat. Habitat enhancements may include the addition of salamander-friendly wood “houses,” invasive plant species removal, improved (but ecologically friendly) access for class and researcher access, remediation of water pollution sources, remediation of litter sources, noise reduction, etc.

Methods and Results: Fall 2012 Clean-up

The original project involved a quick assessment of the habitat, to see if any salamanders could be found, prior to a cleanup of garbage in the area. We weren’t expecting to find salamanders; therefore it came as a shock when three Eastern Red-Backed Salamanders were found, almost immediately, under rotting trees and rocks near the water. Photos were taken and later the species was identified by comparing the images to ones shown on the internet. While finding the salamanders was positive, the habitat itself was a mess. The area was filled with trash; pillows, a shower curtain, parts of a car, a tent, bottles, ceramics, cooking utensils etc. Some of the older trash dates from the time that the area was used as a dump by Ohio Wesleyan, including half-buried barrels, vehicle parts, etc. Newer trash has descended into the area from the recreation trail, US 315, and the athletic field to the south of the habitat.

Sustainability Coordinator Sean Kinghorn helped organize a day (Fall 2012) where volunteers could help remove trash from the habitat. Sean provided trash bags, gloves, and lawn shears as well as a place to dispose of the trash. The date was set in December, because by then all salamanders would be hibernating and so we would be less likely to disturb them. Trash was removed in and around the area where the three salamanders were found. All except for those pieces that were too big, or too heavy to lift. This ended up being not such a bad thing since animals seemed to be using the car parts, tires etc. as their homes. In order to clear out the area, a rudimentary path was created by utilizing fallen logs and cutting away the underbrush. By using the path to get down the steep incline, all trash from the area was cleared, and ended up filling ten trash bags. We recycled what we could. Clearing out the trash is only the first step to saving the salamanders and their habitat; there is much left that needs to be done.

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Recommendations: Fall 2012

  1. Complete a more assessment of animal and plants in the habitat. Initiate a salamander census as the first step in assessing numbers over time. Assess salamander migration into and out of the area, if possible, and obstacles to this migration. Collaborate with OWU faculty and students who may be interested in using this habitat for research.
  2. Evaluate the water in the habitat, including sources. Test the water to evaluate any problematic pollutants.
  3. Evaluate the soil in the habitat.
  4. Evaluate noise in the habitat (primarily US 315)
  5. Create salamander friendly “houses” in the habitat
  6. Evaluate the removal of invasive species that adversely affect the area as a habitat for salamanders and other native animal species.
  7. Evaluate access to the area for class and student research purposes.
  8. Organize another trash clean up late 2013.
  9. Develop a long-term plan for habitat enhancement and use as an Ohio Wesleyan ecological research location.

Methods and Results: Fall 2013 Removal of Invasive Plant Species

Amphibians require aquatic and terrestrial habitats to complete their lifecycles, and preservation of both habitats is necessary for maintaining a steady population. A study done in 2004 showed that spotted salamanders, Jefferson’s salamander complex and smallmouth salamanders were positively associated with the amount of forest within a core zone (Porej 2004). Some invasive species thin out forests and this could have a negative impact on the salamander population found at the edge of OWU’s campus. With the help of Ohio Wesleyan student Thomas Bain, the invasive plant species most abundant within the wetland were identified. These two invasive species were amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) and garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata). Almost all plants within the wetland being studied were invasive. Because of this, it was thought that before removal of all invasive plant species could take place, an assessment of the impact this might have needed to be taken into account first.

Successful eradication efforts have generally benefited biological diversity. However, there is also evidence that, without sufficient planning, successful eradication can have unwanted and unexpected impacts on native species and ecosystems. Sometimes the eradication of an invasive species can hurt a native species. This happens if the native species has begun to use the invasive as a nesting habitat (as with the willow flycatcher and exotic saltcedar). But even when this is not the case, sometimes invaded areas are no longer able to support the growth of native plant species (Zavaleta 2001). This may be true with both amur honeysuckle and garlic mustard.

Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) tends to shade out native vegetation, particularly in the understory, they deplete soil moisture, and there have been studies that have shown that these plants increase pH levels in the soil (Hicks 2004 and Exotic honeysuckles 2013). Garlic mustard produces allelochemicals which suppress mycorrhizal fungi that most plants require for optimum growth (Garlic mustard 2013 and Alliaria petiolata 2013). So even with the removal of all the amur honeysuckle and garlic mustard from the area, native plant species may need additional help to reestablish themselves, since the soil might no longer be suitable for their growth.

These two invasive species are detrimental to salamander health. A study done in 2011 found that Amur honeysuckle affected the microclimate (temperature and humidity at ground level) of forest’s understory. Mean daily temperatures were lower in invaded plots compared to those not overrun with Amur honeysuckle. This was correlated with a decline in amphibian species richness and evenness in invaded plots (Watling 2011). Another study focusing on garlic mustard impacts was done in 2009. It was found that this plant was correlated with a diminish in prey resources of the woodland salamander (Maerz 2009).

Four plots of land within the wetland were marked off using flags. These plots were each 10 meters by 10 meters, and each pair was chosen according to how similar they were to each other. From each pair, one would have the invasive plants removed, while the other remained how it was found; acting as the control. After being marked off, the plots were carefully searched through for salamanders. Salamanders were found under rock and leaves. After finding the salamander, the disturbed rocks and leaves were placed back as close to the original location as possible.

Plot Number Number of Salamanders Found
1 3
2 4
3 2
4 4

Table 1. The number of salamanders found in each plot before invasive species were removed.

After the salamanders were found and recorded, the invasive species, amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) and garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), were removed from plots 2 and 4. Garlic mustard, small plants of 12 to 36 inches in height was removed by pulling the plants out by the base of the stem. Amur honeysuckle was more challenging. To remove this plant, shovels were used to dig beneath the thickest part of the root. With the soft shifting soil, amur honeysuckle could then be pulled out of the ground without much strength needed.

The following day a follow up count of the salamanders was recorded from all plots (using the same methods from the previous day).

Plot Number Number of Salamanders Found
1 1
2 0
3 2
4 0

Table 2. The number of salamanders found in each plot after invasive species were removed from plots 2 and 4.

The data collected shows that the plots removed of invasive species had a substantial decreased in number of salamanders found. It seems that the removal of invasive species did cause the salamanders to move from the area disturbed, but in order to have significant results this count must be redone in the spring to see if the salamander’s numbers increase in the areas without any invasive plant species, or if they stay mostly the same.

References

John C. Maerz, Victoria A. Nuzzo, Bernd Blossey. 2009. Declines in woodland salamander abundance associated with non-native earthworm and plant invasions. Conservation Biology 23: 975-981.

James I. Watling, Caleb R. Hickman, John L. Orrock. 2011. Invasive shrub alters native forest amphibian communities. Conservation Biology 144: 2597-2601.

Erika S. Zavaleta, Richard J. Hobbs, Harold A. Mooney. 2001. Viewing invasive species removal in a whole-ecosystem context. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 16: 454-459.

“Exotic honeysuckles (Lonicera tartarica, L. morrowii, L. x bella).” Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. (2013) Web. 6 Nov. 2013.

Sara L. Hicks. 2004. The effects of invasive species on soil biogeochemistry. Hampshire College.

“Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata).” Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. (2013) Web. 6 Nov. 2013.

“Alliaria petiolata.” Wikipedia. (2013) Web. 6 Nov. 2013.

Deni Porej, Mick Micacchion, Thomas E. Hetherington. 2004. “Core terrestrial habitat for conservation of local populations of salamanders and wood frogs in agricultural landscapes.” Conservation Biology 120: 399-409.