OWU Environmental Studies & Sustainability Progress, Spring 2017

Established and ongoing efforts in environment and sustainability by Ohio Wesleyan students, staff and faculty and off-campus collaborators active during the 2016-17 academic year.

Established and ongoing efforts in environment and sustainability by Ohio Wesleyan students, staff and faculty and off-campus collaborators active during the 2016-17 academic year. 

A PDF of this document is available here.
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OWU Sustainability Plan: As a liberal arts institution, Ohio Wesleyan University must be a leader in progressive sustainability initiatives through educational, technical, and social means. The proposed Ohio Wesleyan Sustainability Plan (click for PDF) is intended to invigorate and expand a culture of sustainability that has a positive impact on the environment. Draft of the OWU Sustainability Plan, created by faculty, staff and students, is complete and being revised and vetted. Students in our Sustainability Practicum are currently arranging to move the proposed plan through OWU’s administrative network during the spring of 2017.
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May Move Out: A student-initiated project in collaboration with Goodwill, to defer usable materials from the trash as students move off campus in May. We defer 10 tons of reusable furniture, appliances, clothes, bikes, etc. on average, each May. Students are currently meeting with OWU’s Buildings & Grounds and Residential Life staff to plan for and promote the 2017 May Move Out. Ohio Wesleyan’s May Move Out program was awarded the 2015 Recycling Award from the Keep Delaware County Beautiful Coalition.

Reusable Food Containers in Hamilton Williams Campus Center: A student project initiated in the Fall of 2015 is being expanded during the spring of 2017. A new dishwasher was installed in our campus center in part to provide adequate washing of the containers. Students and campus food service staff are working to improve and expand the program during the Spring of 2017.

Environmental Science Major: A proposal for an Environmental Science major (in addition to our 39 year old Environmental Studies major) will be brought before OWU committees and faculty for consideration and approval during the Spring of 2017.

Environmental Studies Minor in Food Studies: A Food Studies Minor (developed from the Food Course Connection) is in place (a collaboration between Health and Human Kinetics [HHK] and Environmental Studies). Two more minors, Sustainability and Climate Science are being developed.

Living Green Infrastructure Proposal: Students and staff are working on a proposal for a Living Green residence hall option. 1) Develop structural sustainability. 2) Allow students to live more sustainably by reducing their water, energy, and material waste. 3) Include workshop/classroom area for sustainable learning (repair, self-production). 4) Trained RA’s to be sustainable life assistants.

Delaware Foodshed Farm and Food Collaboration: Building on the Food Studies Minor and student interest in gardens, farming and food, OWU faculty in Environmental Studies and HHK are developing a collaboration between Stratford Ecological Center farms and the Methodist School of Ohio farms. Initial efforts will focus on student internships and engagement of OWU in a regional food network. With financial support for staff (donations or grants) campus gardens will be developed. Efforts will focus on the practice of ecologically sound farming, food production, regional food networks and social outreach (building on the existing Cooking Matters Program, organized by Dr. Chris Fink) to engage students and community members in growing food.

Environmental and Sustainability Internships: Eight to ten internships are being offered on a regular basis at Stratford Ecological Center and the City of Delaware. Foci include environmental education, marketing, farming, and sustainability. Additional internships will be available at the Seminary Hill Farm (Methodist Theological School of Ohio) Fall 2017.

Global Environmental Change Collaboration & Travel Learning Course: OWU collaboration with Amy Work (OWU ‘04) and her organization GeoPorter in Bahia Ballena-Uvita, Costa Rica. Learning and using environmental assessment methods in Delaware, Ohio (Fall 2017) and during a travel learning course trip (Dr. Nathan Amador’s Geography 347) to coastal Costa Rica (January 2018). Goal: to understand how local environmental data is collected and relates to regional and global climate and environmental change.

Chimney Swift Towers: A collaboration between students and OWU Alumni Dick Tuttle (OWU 1973) to build a chimney swift tower on the residential side of campus. Plans have been drawn up and cost estimates provided by a contractor. Funds will be provided by Tuttle. We anticipate construction during the spring or summer of 2017 pending approval from B&G and OWU’s Administration.

Campus Wildlife Habitat Enhancements: Student efforts continue to install and maintain bird houses, feeders and solitary bee houses on campus.

Green Week 2017: Building on a successful week of events in 2016, students are organizing another week of events for the spring of 2017 (the week prior to Earth Day).

Delaware Run Assessment and Restoration: Ongoing project focused on restoring Delaware Run between Sandusky St. and Henry St. Emerging collaboration with stream restoration specialists who propose restoration of the stream and adjacent riparian zone in return for state of Ohio stream credits. Currently waiting on the establishment of an official Ohio stream banking and credit procedure.

Bottled Water Sales Reduction: Student-led efforts to drive down bottled water purchases on campus, including the installation of hydration stations and promotion of reusable water bottles. Bottled water sales have dropped significantly in the last three years. We continue to install hydration stations (filtered water) at key locations as an alternative to bottled water.

OWU ’17 Michael Durfee: Summer ’16 Diving Internship

Michael Durfee, OWU 2017, is an Environmental Studies and Medieval Studies dual major, and participated in a summer 2016 master diver apprenticeship in Cozumel, Mexico.

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Michael Durfee, OWU 2017, is an Environmental Studies and Medieval Studies dual major, and participated in a summer 2016 master diver apprenticeship in Cozumel, Mexico.


Michael Durfee
October 27, 2016

One of the first lessons we are taught as divers is that we are the stewards, the voice of, and the ambassadors of the underwater world. Nobody else has the means to be so intimate with this environment. Even if for no reason other than we love being in it, we must help protect it.

The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) stresses the importance of the environment throughout a diver’s training. They teach us how to be careful of sensitive aquatic ecosystems (by maintaining good buoyancy, kicking properly, by knowing we won’t be attacked by animals unless we harass them, or simply by not touching things). PADI provides examples in their training books of ways to be active in the fight to keep our waters healthy.

PADI also advertise and teach Project AWARE both as an independent project and movement and as a specialty course for certification (AWARE Fish Identification, AWARE Shark Conservation, AWARE Underwater Naturalist for example). Project AWARE is the environmental movement within diving, started years ago by PADI and broken off into something grander. AWARE stands for Aquatic World Awareness Responsibility and Education. At its most basic we are given its Ten Ways a Diver Can Protect the Underwater Environment. These are: 1) Dive carefully, 2) Be aware of your body and equipment, 3) Keep your dive skills sharp, 4) Consider your actions, 5) Understand and respect underwater life, 6) Be an Ecotourist, 7) Respect underwater cultural heritage, 8) Report environmental disturbances or destruction, 9) Be a role model, and 10) Get involved.

I went to Cozumel, Mexico to earn my PADI Professional Divemaster rating. I chose a very good location for this dive training. Reasons for this are many, but primarily for the fact that the waters surrounding the island are a huge Marine National Park. All divers are required to be extra careful and mindful. For example, nobody is allowed to dive without a local Divemaster. There are extensive, complex coral reefs along the entire west side of the island. There was greater pressure for me to become a better, more skilled diver here. I have confidence in my abilities to observe sensitive organisms without any accidental harm occurring.

gruntscorals

Diving these world famous coral reefs was remarkable and eye opening for me. I can hardly express what I have learned. I am familiar with numerous species of fish and am only just beginning to understand how they interconnect to form this ecosystem. I learned how a coral reef works in its most fundamental sense and how nearby wetlands like Mangroves can be essential to the reef’s continued survival.

Simply by observation while in over 60 dives, I got to see how some aquatic animals rely on the health of their coral environment. Health has multiple aspects.

I’ve chosen a few examples.

The sea turtles around Cozumel, most commonly the Green Sea Turtle and the Loggerhead Turtle, depend on coral reefs for food and protection.

turtThe turtles will lie there chomping on coral, digging at it with their beaks. I may postulate that the type of coral matters, which makes the coral and sponge diversity important to the turtles.The relative shallow depths of these reefs allow turtles to live and feed well while still having fairly quick access to the surface for air. Here is a Green Sea Turtle who was eating but is now looking at the diver taking the photo.

Often while I was diving I thought to myself how odd some of the fish I see are. Many seem to be just generic and what a human might expect, but others not so much. Filefish are one of these oddities. I love to wonder why they look like they do – inspiring research on my part.

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Watching The fish feed is the biggest clue. Their mouths are specialized for a certain diet. What exactly they eat I do not know, but they use their outwards-pointing teeth and elongated mouth to scrape their food off the bottom and the coral. Being so specialized may indicate an existence more vulnerable to environmental changes. Of the animal species here, it is the oddities, the curiosities and the fantastic that are the first to leave when conditions change.

drumfishThe Drumfish is one of the most elegant and beautiful species of fish I was ever fortunate enough to observe. They are shy and love to hide under small, shallow ledges. Diversity of structure is one of the most important aspects of coral reef health. In this case, structural diversity allows for the shy to hide their faces and the very shy to hide their entire body. An example of the very shy would include the endemic species to Cozumel, the Splendid Toadfish who hides in a hole day and night.

Another species which appreciates the structural diversity of coral reef systems is the Stonefish, the most poisonous fish in the world.

stonefish

Stonefish are docile, though, and are named for their ability to blend in with their surroundings and look like a stone or piece of coral. They are one reason why divers in the Caribbean try not to touch the reefs. If we imagine a reef that has been bleached or depleted in its various diversities, a Stonefish would not survive.

There are dozens of animals species which rely on the existence of coral reefs and their diversity. A diver’s awareness of this as connected to their choices and advocacy on land is an essential power. We can help advocate for more Marine National parks and sustainable fishing regulations. We can use sustainably produced products which would not create by-product which ends up in the ocean. We can use sustainable energy sources and/or cut back on overall energy consumption. Our mindful choices have a say in whether these beautiful places and animals will survive.

Having learned in a Marine National Park in Cozumel gave me a heightened sense of my duty as a now Professional diver. My Divemaster training stressed that one of my most essential duties is to be a good role model. This means being a skillful and knowledgeable diver, embracing and adhering to PADI Standards (which keep divers and the environment safe) and embracing and adhering to Project AWARE teachings.

OWU Food Minor Approved for Fall of 2016

Ohio Wesleyan Faculty approved a minor in Food Studies beginning the fall of 2016. The minor is being facilitated by the Health and Human Kinetics Department and Environmental Studies Program.

Wake-Up

Ohio Wesleyan Faculty approved a minor in Food Studies beginning the fall of 2016. The minor is being facilitated by the Health and Human Kinetics Department and Environmental Studies Program. We are calling the new minor a Mentored Minor as the program has a significant amount of engaged work (at least two semesters of internships or independent study)

Details about the Food minor are in the 2016-2017 OWU Catalog, and are listed below. Please contact Dr. Christopher Fink, Dr. Laurie Anderson, or Dr. John Krygier for more information.

Food Studies Mentored Minor

The Food Studies mentored minor is overseen collaboratively by the OWU Department of Health & Human Kinetics and the Environmental Studies Program, and views food from a multidisciplinary perspective. We recognize the importance of food as biological fuel, as a natural resource with problems of abundance and scarcity, as a focus of celebration, as a human obsession, as a cultural expression, as a multi-billion dollar industry, and as an interaction with the global environment through agriculture and waste disposal. By studying food across a range of disciplines, students in this minor will improve their ability to investigate, debate, and solve some of the most important problems affecting the human condition in the 21st century, including food scarcity, malnutrition, obesity, preserving cultural heritage in a global society, and feeding people in a world of 7 billion and more.

Requirements

To complete the mentored minor, a student must:

  • Identify an owu faculty member associated with the Food Studies minor to serve as their mentor
  • Create A proposal, in collaboration with their mentor, to the food studies faculty contacts, outlining courses and projects that fit with their specific interests in food.
  • Complete 5.5 units of coursework, consisting of:
    • 3 units of courses selected from the list below, 1 unit from each of 3 different departments.
    • The 0.5 unit interdisciplinary Food Seminar (after completion of at least 1 full unit food course)
    • 2 project-based units (Independent Study, Directed Readings, Internship).

Courses

The following are the courses that can be used for the 3 non-seminar and non-project courses required in the minor. As a reminder, students must take the 0.5 unit Interdisciplinary Food Seminar (INT 300.6 – Interdisciplinary Food Seminar), and select three other courses, representing three different departments. They must complete at least 1 full unit of coursework from this list before enrolling in the Food Seminar. The Food Seminar will be offered in alternating years.

  • BIOL 122 – Organisms and their Environment (Anderson, Downing, Hankison, Johnson, Kelly, Reichard)
  • BOMI 103 – Biology of Cultivated Plants (Murray)
  • BOMI 106 – Enology (summer only) (Goldstein)
  • BOMI 107 – Food (summer only) (Wolverton)
  • BOMI 233 – Ecology and the Human Future (Anderson)
  • CMLT 110 – Myth, Legend, and Folklore of the European Continent (Merkel)
  • ENG 145 – Reading: The Global Kitchen (Comorau)
  • GEOG 499 – Sustainability Practicum (Krygier)
  • HHK 114 – Personal Health (Fink, Busch)
  • HHK 270 – Sport and Exercise Nutrition (Fink, Staff)
  • HHK 347 – Special Topics in HHK: A Qualitative Inquiry (Fink)
  • HHK 300.8 (0.5 unit) – Health Program Planning (Fink) and HHK 300.9 (0.5 unit) – Health Education Instructional Methods (Fink)
  • PHIL 250 – Environmental Ethics (Stone-Mediatore)
  • PSYC 262 – Health Psychology (DiLillo)
  • SOAN 111 – Cultural Anthropology (Howard, Peoples)
  • SOAN 347 – Health, Illness, Disability and Dying (Howard)
  • SOAN 367 – Human Ecology (Peoples)
  • ZOOL 101 – Human Biology (Kelly)
  • ZOOL 325 – Human Physiology (Kelly)
  • ZOOL 335 – Ecological and Evolutionary Physiology (Kelly)

Mentors

A current list of mentors can be obtained from the faculty contacts for this minor, Dr. Laurie Anderson (Botany/Microbiology), and Dr. Christopher Fink (Health & Human Kinetics). Faculty mentors will oversee the development of proposals from students, and may also serve as the faculty supervisors of independent studies, directed readings, or apprenticeships.

Food Studies Mentored Minor Faculty Contacts

Dr. Christopher fink (Health & Human kinetics) and Dr. Laurie Anderson (Botany/Microbiology)

 

Invasive Plant Removal with Goats. Goats!

What if we used voracious megafauna – goats – to remove invasive honeysuckle? Amur honeysuckle is an invasive species covering large areas of the U.S. The plant has significant negative impacts on ecosystems and has been extensively researched. Mechanical removal of honeysuckle is typically recommended as most effective. However, mechanical removal is difficult, time-consuming, and thus costly. Might goats be the answer?

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Meigan Day and her goat friend in the honeysuckle patch, Fall 2015

Meigan Day
OWU ’16, Botany and Environmental Studies

Amur honeysuckle is an invasive species covering large areas of the U.S. The plant has significant negative impacts on ecosystems and has been extensively researched. Mechanical removal of honeysuckle is typically recommended as most effective. However, mechanical removal is difficult, time-consuming, and thus costly.

What if we used voracious megafauna – goats – to remove the honeysuckle? Inspired by stories of “rent a goat” companies (who offer goats for brush removal) I proposed an experiment to determine if goats prefer the taste of honeysuckle over other native plants. If so, then they could be released into an area to and reduce the amount of labor require to remove honeysuckle.

Methods for the removal and eradication of honeysuckle have been studied: herbicide application and removal by a biological agents are the most common. Ultimately, mechanical removal is typically recommended. Research also suggests the time of year to remove the honeysuckle, how to keep it from returning, how it affects local water quality, and to what extent it affects the biodiversity of an area.

Honeysuckle significantly disrupts the biodiversity of forests but there are few people willing to dedicate their time to eradicating this invasive plant. Love et al. determined that between cutting, mechanical removal, stump application of herbicide, and foliar application of herbicide the most effective method was mechanical removal. This is accomplished by pulling smaller shrubs by hand, or with a Pulaski if they became too big. Mechanical removal is the most labor intensive method for removing honeysuckle and is the second highest in cost due to the need to pay workers.

Amur Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle is tagged as an invasive species in many regions and can be found in eastern Asia and North America. The honeysuckle examined throughout this study is Lonicera maackii, also known as Amur honeysuckle, which appears as a large shrub that can grow 6 meters tall. It was introduced into many areas as an ornamental plant used for its flowers and hedge qualities. The overpopulation of Amur honeysuckle is known to destroy many native species coverage and fitness. This shrub does well in the shady habitat of a forest understory and on the forest edge where it grows very fast and out-competes native plants for resources, especially when it is the first greening species in the spring and the last to lose its leaves in the fall. Amur honeysuckle spreads throughout an area by the means root systems and seed dispersion. It produces bright red berries that hold numerous seeds and are eaten by birds that eventually disperse the seeds in their droppings.

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The Toggenburg Goats of Stratford Ecological Center

I performed my experiments at the Stratford Ecological Center, south of Delaware, Ohio using their herd of Toggenburg goats.

If the Toggenburg goats used did prefer to eat honeysuckle over other vegetation the efforts to remove honeysuckle would require less manual labor. The plant species made available to the goats were Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii), winged euonymus (Euonymus alatus), privet (Ligustrum), willow (Salix), beech (Fagus grandifolia), and maple (Acer saccharum).

These species were selected because Amur honeysuckle, winged euonymus, and privet are all known invasive species of Ohio and the native species selected were some of the few that still held leaves in the mid to late Fall. The three experiments were conducted on October 30th, November 5th, and November 12th 2015 and all of the plant samples were collected the day before feeding. Because the timing is later into the fall season many of the native plants had begun to brown and lose their leaves while the Amur honeysuckle and other invasive plant’s leaves remained green longer into the season. This was to promote the best conditions when honeysuckle would be found more favorable than the other species present.

Experiment 1: Taste Test

Goats are browsers that eat the foliage off vegetation, so in the first experiment the leaves of each species were pulled from the branch and placed into 5 liter feeding containers randomly placed throughout a barn pen. Female goats ranging in age were brought into the pen one at a time and given the chance to eat from the containers as they pleased. The goats eating behavior was categorized as either:

  • sniffed and moved on
  • tried and moved on
  • liked (ate for extended period of time)
  • returned (after leaving and eating another species)
  • favored (showed more interest than liked)

After five goats were brought through the pen one at a time the conclusion was that out of the six species of foliage available honeysuckle and winged euonymus were the most favored. Overall the invasive species were liked more than the natives, which were frequently tried and then passed by.

Following the same procedure with the foliage of each species in a 5 liter container, 2 goats were released into the pen at one time. It was clear that the goats were influenced by what the other goat had liked. If one goat would show any interest for a species the other would immediately join and eat it for at least a short period of time. Even with the two goats in the pen they showed preferences identical to each other and similar conclusion of the individual goats. The two goats appeared to favor honeysuckle but continued to return to winged euonymus; liked privet and beech equally; liked willow the least; both goats tried and moved past maple.

Experiment Two: Browsing Preferences

To continue controlled conditions in order to easily observe what the goats are showing preference for eating, for the next experiment whole branches of each species were collected and tied up to hang from the pen walls. The containers used in the previous experiment were familiar to the goats for holding food Hanging vegetation would give a more realistic comparison to forest browsing. Maple was not available for the duration of the experiments because it was difficult to collect a large enough sample due to leaf loses.

Five different goats were taken into the pen one at a time and none showed significant trends of preference. All of the goats displayed similar patterns of remaining at the first species that had been chosen and occasionally changing to a different species, trying them all in relatively equal amounts. After the first five goats were observed they were released back into the pen all at one time.

Because of the high demand for the plants the goats would begin at different species, with one or two goats sharing a particular sample. Overall the goats showed good browsing tendencies by walking around and eating all species that were available.

Experiment 3: Goats in the Field

A single goat was placed on a lead and taken to a nearby forest area. The area that was chosen had honeysuckle 2 meters tall and the size of shrubs as well as goldenrod and black berry that no longer held many berries left. Only one goat was taken because none of other the goats were accustomed to being on a lead and are not easily walked to destinations far from the barn. The goat showed no true preference for any of the species available and moved from one plant to the next without showing much real interest.

This final experiment suggests that goats (or at least the one goat tested!) are not useful biological agents for eradicating honeysuckle, to the extent that they don’t distinguish between honeysuckle and non-invasive species. Honeysuckle appeared to give no taste benefit to the goats in order to increase their favorability. Goats are known for having a palate for taste similar to a human. They avoid foliage that has high concentrations of tannins that give a bitter taste and prefer vegetation that produce berries. On the other hand honeysuckle is known for creating extremely dense thickets and this research suggests that goats would be useful to cutback these overgrown areas. Once the goats have reduced the vegetation people would be able to access the area and manually remove the honeysuckle. Alternatively, repeated early spring and late summer goat assaults on the early and late leafing honeysuckle might slow, stunt or possibly kill honeysuckle. More research is required.

Discussion

These experiments were conducted with the help of Stratford Ecological Center for providing the goats and the land. Bob Harter, the invasive species management team leader, had high hopes that these experiments to show that goats preferred to eat honeysuckle because his team consisted of only two people. They were available to assist Bob pulling invasive species only a few hours a week at a 236 acre state reserve. Forming an alliance with the goats could only help. The director and farmer of the facility, Jeff Dickinson, was in fact surprised by how much the goats ate the honeysuckle equally to the other foliage that was provided. From his previous experience the goats had always shown avoidance for honeysuckle. With this new information there are future plans to use the goats to cut back the overgrown vegetation in an area on the state reserve that is bursting with honeysuckle. Once the goats have cut back the vegetation, volunteers can continue to remove the honeysuckle on the property and further restore biodiversity of the forest.

Reference

Love, Jason P., and James T. Anderson. “Seasonal effects of four control methods on the invasive Morrow’s honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii) and initial responses of understory plants in a southwestern Pennsylvania old field.” Restoration Ecology 17.4 (2009): 549-559.

 

 

 

 

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

 

OWU Theory into Practice: Research on Olives & Sustainability in Morocco

Michael Durfee, an Environmental Studies and Medieval Studies dual major, was awarded an OWU Theory into Practice grant to travel to Morocco during the summer of 2015 to study sustainability and olive agriculture.

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Michael Durfee, an Environmental Studies and Medieval Studies dual major, was awarded an OWU Theory into Practice grant to travel to Morocco during the summer of 2015 to study sustainability and olive agriculture.

Olives and Sustainability: A Traditional Setting in Marrakech, Morocco

Objective:

Behind this project lies the theory that traditional ecological and agricultural knowledge and practices are naturally more sustainable and beneficial for the environment and human health. Traditional societies, if we listen, can offer the Western world ways to combat issues with the environment and sustainability. The olive tree and its fruit are hardy and versatile, and Morocco is a place that requires it. The benefits of using olives and their products are endless. Marrakech has been growing olives for hundreds of years and is of great importance in the diet, agriculture and economy of the people. I will investigate the sustainable aspects of the olive and the production and sale of food and trades material as done in a traditional society.

Description:

As negative environmental consequences of human activity become alarmingly evident, sustainable alternatives to current practices grow in importance. Sustainable alternatives are found in traditional communities around the globe. These communities have ingenious approaches to living sustainably, having adapted their strategies to work well with the environment, not against it.

Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) is the collectively owned and shared knowledge of people whose everyday lives depend on and/or support good land stewardship and species and environmental conservation. These people understand firsthand that biodiversity and environmental health are synonymous with human health. TEK can be found in proverbs, folklore, language, local trades, agricultural practices and conservation, dietary choices, commercial purchases and general mindset.

In order to understand the role of TEK in modern sustainability efforts, I will investigate the olive in Morocco. I will explore the practices of olive growing, processing and marketing within their environmental and sustainability context. Morocco’s High Atlas region and the ancient city of Marrakech is a prime region for olive production. My intentions in Marrakech are to trace the environmental impacts of olives and other produce growing, processing, transport to market, and consumption. To document the “farm-to-table” process in a more traditional society, I will visit several urban markets, bazaars and local restaurants in the city and as many olive groves and olive oil mills as possible.

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Image: Fresh food markets in the Medina

As traditional knowledge is found throughout a society, I will supplement my focus by investigating local trades like smithies, tanneries, carpet makers, vineyards, and bakeries. I will get my hands dirty volunteering at these places. During two separate two-week periods, I will put theory into practice by living and volunteering at farms, immersing myself in the world of the olive. The first period I will participate in WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) at an organic farm near northern Morocco. My stay there is confirmed with the owner. I will determine my second volunteering experience while in Morocco (as the most traditional places have no internet presence) based on contacts I have made in Morocco.

LandsatMarrakechImage: Landsat Satellite Image of Agricultural Areas Surrounding Marrakech, Morocco.

TEK can be found in the Developed World. We find it in Delaware County in small businesses like the Delaware Community Market, Stratford Ecological Center and the Glass Rooster Cannery. Their sustainable methods and are in many ways a reinvention of traditional practices. I plan to compare my experiences in Morocco with practices in central Ohio in order to gain a better understanding of both locations while providing insights into how to better integrate traditional practices in a modern, Western setting.

OWU Awarded $10k Grant to Fund May Move Out Effort

Wednesday February 11 2015: Ohio Wesleyan was awarded $10,000 from the Delaware, Knox, Marion, Morrow (DKMM) Joint Solid Waste District for our May Move Out effort for 2015 through the efforts of the Sustainability Task Force.

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Wednesday February 11 2015: Ohio Wesleyan was awarded $10,000 from the Delaware, Knox, Marion, Morrow (DKMM) Joint Solid Waste District for our May Move Out effort for 2015 through the efforts of the Sustainability Task Force. The project, originally developed and implemented by student Sarah D’Alexander in 2012, diverts reusable and recyclable materials from the trash during the student move out at the end of the spring semester. Grant funds will offset costs to OWU for pod rental (for short term storage of reusable and recyclable materials, and transport to our partners at Goodwill Industries) as well as promotional and educational efforts. The Sustainability Task Force (STF) guided the grant proposal, and students in John Krygier’s Geography 360 course (Environmental Geography) as well as Green House SLU members will be working on the project with Goodwill Industries, OWU Buildings and Grounds and OWU Residential Life.


Project Description:

Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) looks to significantly enhance and expand recycling/reuse efforts on our campus among its nearly 1,750 students who bring furnishings, clothing, small appliances and other items to outfit their residence hall living spaces each year. Much of the materials they bring and accumulate over an academic year do not go with them when they leave campus for the summer.

In fact, at the end of each spring semester over a few days, OWU students dump in excess of 43 tons of materials, much of which could be recycled or reused, into garbage dumpsters as they prepare to depart campus. Furniture, lamps, flat screen TVs, clothes, computers – usually of high quality and relatively new – end up in landfills, particularly as students from outside the state and country find they do not have the resources to move and travel with these items.

Ohio Wesleyan seeks to develop a partnership with Goodwill Industries to divert as many student discards as possible away from the landfill. We seek to build a sustainable model for “May Move Out” (as students move out of campus at the end of spring semester in May) that includes, in addition to significant waste diversion, an educational component whereby OWU students come to understand the significance of the waste they generate and learn to anticipate, plan, and reduce their waste impact. Further, the May Move Out program will engage students from several campus environmental organizations in working with Goodwill, OWU’s Buildings and Grounds, Residential and Campus cleaning staff as well as faculty in the Environmental Studies Program. Therefore, we believe our proposed program will, in addition to significant waste diversion, serve as an important pedagogical and service learning opportunity for our students. The desire to partner with a respected community organization with a shared goal of the reuse of materials, the capacity to handle a sizable addition of inventory for their stores and other enterprises and the desire to work with our students made Goodwill Industries our first choice for an off-campus partner.

The project outlined in this proposal builds on earlier efforts which involved recycling boxes in the residence halls and OWU students and staff sorting through the donated materials to then deliver appropriate materials to community organizations. The current proposed initiative addresses challenges and inadequacies with such previous end of year move out attempts and incorporates a partnership with a community organization that can provide the staffing and expertise needed to most successfully make use of the materials generated.

Meetings and discussions with Goodwill Industries and OWU Buildings & Grounds staff, students and faculty, resulted in the May Move Out project concept. The project entails:

  • Placement of 9 storage containers aka pods at selected locations on the Residential side of campus, near garbage dumpsters to allow separation of recyclable and non-recyclable materials at each of the 9 sites.
  • OWU students and Goodwill staff posted at the pods as “Diversion Consultants” to answer questions about what items would be considered waste vs. recyclable/reuse over the 4 day move-out period. We propose to leave some pods open and unmonitored, and will compare contents in those pods to contents in monitored pods to assess the ability of students to self-sort waste from recyclable/reusable materials.
  • Relocation of the pods after the 6 (or are we saying 4 – pods open on the weekend?) day student move out period to the Goodwill Industries facility in Delaware, Ohio where contents will be sorted and processed by Goodwill staff. OWU student “Diversion Consultants” may be involved at this stage of the process to assess the collected materials.An educational campaign is required for the proposed project to work. OWU will build on an existing campaign called “Pack it in, Pack it up, Pack it out” to include the option to recycle/reuse. Components of this campaign include:
  • Training of Residential Advisors on Residence Hall floors to understand the May Move Out and resources available to them and students on their floors.
  • Creation of basic recycle/reuse or waste guidelines, on postcards distributed to students with email access to “Consultants” as well as social media messaging. Similar information on posters will be placed near waste areas in residential buildings.
  • Events in the spring semester to raise awareness of the May Move Out campaign to include informational tables in the Campus Center, in Residential Food Service areas, and other locations.

Ohio Wesleyan’s project best fits the Non-Residential Recycling/Waste Reduction Project as defined in the Delaware Knox Marion Morrow Solid Waste Management District (DKMM SWD) 2015 Recycling & Market Development Project Application Handbook. OWU’s request is part of the institution’s larger plan to foster a culture of sustainability on campus as further outlined in item #5 below. Specifically, OWU seeks $10,000 to address priorities of DKMM SWD to foster and encourage collection and reuse of recyclable materials from the campus community.

With the campus drawing students from 46 states (with over 50% from Ohio) and 43 countries, this initiative provides a unique opportunity to reach a broad audience in our recycling educational efforts and hopes to inspire recycling practices in students that will continue after they graduate.

 

May Move Out

In the Spring of 2012, Geog 360 student, Sarah D’ Alexander embarked on a major campus donation drive known as the May Move Out. The purpose of this project was to collect many of the items students typically throw away at the end of the year and donate these items to local charities and the OWU Freestore. It was estimated that 43 tons of “waste” was donated and kept from the massive dumpsters set up all around campus.

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May Move Out       

April 25th 2013 to May 11, 2013

Sarah D’ Alexander, Reed Callahan, Sean Kinghorn

In the Spring of 2012, Geog 360 student, Sarah D’ Alexander embarked on a major campus donation drive known as the May Move Out. The purpose of this project was to collect many of the items students typically throw away at the end of the year and donate these items to local charities and the OWU Freestore. It was estimated that 43 tons of “waste” was donated and kept from the massive dumpsters set up all around campus. However, in the Spring of 2013 the two recycling coordinators (Reed Callahan & Sarah D’ Alexander) and the OWU sustainability coordinator at the time (Sean Kinghorn) revisited this project with a full vengeance for waste reduction. We examined the successes and failures from last years May Move Out and worked to improve the project. Many of these changes pertained to improved organization, systematic structural changes and increased signage and donation bins. All of these factors led to a significant increase in donations collected.


The May Move Out for Spring 2014 was modified in an attempt to have existing OWU staff complete the work, but with mixed results. A revival of the May Move Out, based on the experiences in 2012 and 2013, is planned for the spring of 2015. Contact John Krygier for more information.


Go to May Move Out Spring 2012     |     Go to May Move Out Spring 2013

Note: Both the 2012 and the 2013 report have not been updated so some of the information is out of date.


May Move Out Spring 2013

Reed Callahan, Sean Kinghorn

In regards to the results of this year’s May Move Out we were not able to collect accurate empirical data on the amount of donations collected. Last year Sean was able to examine the differences in waste accumulation and reduction due to the May Move Out, and conduct a comparative analysis of waste tonnage diverted. He was able to conclude that when comparing a 5-year average of waste produced in the past years before the May Move Out that in the Spring of 2012 when the May Move Out was first implemented it diverted 43 tons of waste. The data for this years waste diversion from the May Move Out should be available around mid June, but there is no individual available to calculate the amount of waste diverted for the 2013 May Move Out. Krygier, this may possibly be a project you could do for a future student; have them collect the data from Waste Management, which is provided to the University and have them figure out the amount of waste diverted from this years May Move Out.

Planning the Event

While trying to restructure the May Move Out the most useful source we had was the experiences Sarah and Sean had from last year running the project. We started planning for the Spring 2013 May Move Out in the beginning of the Spring Semester, and this really helped us properly plan out the project and make the necessary contacts.

While planning for the May Move Out there was not a sequential order of steps we followed that led to the end product; we slowly developed upon a broad based plan and then dissected the specifics of each main part of the project. When designing the plan an important aspect was the scale of the project. We realized that we needed to not bite off more than we could chew, and make the May Move Out manageable for the amount of time and effort we would be willing to contribute to the project. This can be a very time consuming project and it is important to realize the lack of free time people have around that time in the semester. In this year’s May Move Out in the last week, Sarah Sean, and I were probably working 5-7 hours a day. If next years students are able to get more volunteers than it may be feasible for some individuals to not commit that amount of time, but this project really requires a few dedicated volunteers to make large time commitments.

When trying to evaluate the scale/size of the project we first needed to consider how many donation areas do we want to have around campus. Last year the donation areas were located in one spot in every dorm and there seemed to be a lack of consistency in the donation locations. This year we put donation boxes on every floor of every residence hall, and donation boxes in every fraternity house, senior housing and SLU.

Shown below is the list of all donation areas (floors for each residence hall and number of fraternities, SLUs, senior housing)

  • Stuy: 3 floors (12 boxes)
  • Smith West: 4 floors Smith East: 5 Floors (36 Boxes)
  • Hayes: 4 floors (16 Boxes)
  • Thompson: 3 floors (12 Boxes)
  • Bashford: 4 floors (16 Boxes)
  • Welch: 4 floors (16 Boxes)
  • 9 Senior Housing and Fraternities (36 boxes)
  • 7 SLUs (28 boxes)

Donation Box Layout

One question that may come to mind is why did I list the number of boxes after each location. This year we decided to use four donation boxes at each location. These four boxes each had labels indicating the types of items that should be placed in them.

Donation Box Layout

The four categories the bins were divided into were school supplies, non-perishable food items/detergents, clothing, and electronics. (I will send an email attached with the signage we used) This system of bin layout contributed to the students separating their items and when dividing the items in the OWU Free Store this saved a significant amount of time in the sorting process. The sorting of items in the May Move Out can be very monotonous so this relieved many of the volunteers from this type of work. As a result more volunteer’s time and effort could be allotted to donation collection. In regards to the decision to collect these types of items, the experience of the past May Move Out helped us gauge the types of items that students typically disposed of at the end of the year. Along with that, the signage used on the donation boxes was very simplistic and used a visual aid to help guide students to the proper bin for their donated items. As a result we had very little contamination or incorrect items in the various donation boxes.

Donation Box Locations

Another important feature of our donation locations was the centralized donation areas in each residence hall that was intended for larger items such as futons and mini fridges. Our reasoning behind the use of this location was that the four donation box areas were in the hallways and larger items being placed in the walkways could be a fire hazard or a more serious concern is that it could look aesthetically unpleasing. The centralized donation areas were typically on the first floor of the residence halls, where there was ramp access, but still easily accessible to students. We indicated the specific location of the centralized donation areas by taking a photo of the location and putting it on a sign that was placed above the donation boxes on each floor. (Refer to the attached pictures of the signage).

Hayes Donation Location

The scale of the project may have been double the size of last years May Move Out, but along with that we had to make sure Res Life approved of the project and the changes we planned to make around the residence halls. An important aspect to note for future groups is that constant communication with the RLC’s is crucial for this project. We met with the RlC’s multiple times and explained where we planned to have donation bin locations and the types of items we were collecting. In order to create as much transparency about the May Move Out to the RLC’s we set up a meeting and showed a PowerPoint of all the locations within the residence halls where the donation bins will be placed and exactly how they will look. This may have taken some extra time, but it worked well because the RLC’s were able to provide us with valuable advice and information that we never would have known. Also photo documenting the locations helped tremendously when we gathered volunteers to help distribute the donation bins all across campus and when donation collector knew exactly where to pick up the bins.

Here is the link to a PDF that shows all of the bin location we proposed to the RLC’s around campus (this document is available in Google Docs, please contact John Krygier for access).

Volunteer Recruiting

The May Move Out relies heavily on the use of volunteers for the success of the project. This year we tried our hardest to get as many volunteers as possible, but we still did not have the turn out we originally hoped for. It is obviously a difficult time in the semester to ask students to commit a few hour volunteering when they have a big final, paper and/or project due that week. We tried to reach out to as many students as possible, but also faculty and staff. Many individuals in the University’s administration or even professors may have some free time to help out and it is worth reaching out to them. This year we had a few professors and even Chaplain Powers and his staff show up to volunteer and that honestly made a huge difference for the success of the project.

List of strategies/methods used to recruit volunteers

  • OWU Daily: we started submitting OWU Daily’s a month before the first week of the May Move Out, but no one responded. We then changed the message in the OWU Daily to “Want Free Stuff” and then explained if students volunteer for the May Move Out they get first dibs on the items we collect. We also had a link to our volunteer sign up sheet.
  • The Transcript: get a reported from the Transcript to write a piece about the project. No one really reads the Transcript, but it can’t hurt
  • Service Learning Hours or Probation Hours: Some classes/majors or organizations require a certain amount of Service Learning hours so let the school administration know about the project and that you need volunteers so students can be directed towards your cause. Also when students get in trouble they need to get a certain amount of community service hours.
  • Word of Mouth: This was probably the most valuable way to recruit people and often allowed us to guilt individuals into volunteering. Also reach out to certain clubs or organizations that typically do a lot of service work (Progress OWU, Environment and Wildlife Club, etc.)

Volunteer List

One of the greatest successes of this year’s May Move Out was the volunteer list we created. There were three different volunteer positions that individuals could sign up for, and we allotted the number of volunteer slots and times based upon our speculated number of volunteers needed on each day. Our approach is documented in the May Move Out Volunteer List (.xlsx file). A Google Docs version of this file is available from John Krygier).

List of Volunteer Positions and Descriptions

The description of these positions helps shows how we intended these volunteer positions to interact within our donation collection and sorting system

Donation Monitor Volunteer Description:

Your job as Donation Monitor will be to do a walkthrough of your assigned residence hall on the day you have signed up. You will need to go and check the various donation locations and call or text one of the van drivers if you notice a full donation box or a large item in the centralized donation area. This job only requires a short time commitment and can be done at your availability anytime before 4pm.

Donation Collector Volunteer Description:                                                                             

The donation collectors will be helping us pickup donations at the various residence halls, SLU’s and fraternities. These individuals will be helping to move the donated items from the donation locations in the residence halls to the vans. The donated items will then be delivered to the OWU Free Store for sorting and further distribution to charities such as Goodwill & Habitat for Humanity.

Free Store Sorter Volunteer Description:                                                                                

Your job will be to sort the donations delivered to the OWU Free Store. This job involves the seperation of donated goods into predetermined categories (clothes, electronics, school supplies etc.) as well as deciding which items should be left for the OWU Free Store and which items will be given to the other participating charities. We will provide more specific instruction upon your arrival. Free Store sorting will take place in the Stewart Annex, which is next to the jaywalk: 70 S. Sandusky St.

Another important part of the volunteer list was collecting the volunteers contact information, residency, and whether an individual was OWU van certified. We used this information to send out a reminder email a day before an individual’s volunteer shift to make sure they were aware of their commitment. Along with that we had people’s phone numbers to call them in case they missed a shift or if there was a change of plans that day. The information about volunteer’s residency was important because if we were having any problems in a certain dorm or needed some quick help we could reach out to individuals in that dorm or housing unit.

The May Move Out was only two weeks long (last two weeks of spring semester), but regardless of the amount of volunteers helping out the last week will be extremely hectic.

Our donation boxes on every floor of every dorm were filling up as fast as we could empty them and this caused non-stop donation collection all day, especially the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of finals week. We had two OWU vans reserved all day for the entirety of those two weeks and having the vans is crucial. If future students are to tackle the May Move Out next year than they need to reserve at least two OWU vans and ask to have all of the seats taken out, except driver and passenger seats (felt like that disclaimer was necessary). If next years May Move Out Musketeers are able to recruit more volunteers than three vans may be necessary to avoid a bottleneck in time due to a lack of van accessibility.

Shown below is the inflow and outflow of donations from the donation boxes, to the centralized distribution location and ultimately to end destination of these donations.

May Move Out Process

Sorting Process in the OWU Free store

The OWU Frees store, which is the Stewart Annex by the Ross Art Museum, was used as our donation distribution center. The Stewart Annex is a mostly vacant building that is still used by some faculty on the 2nd floor, but we used the first 3 rooms closest to the buildings entrance. These rooms stored the various items we collected and also helped us separate and categorize the donated items. Future students must make sure in advance that these rooms will be available in those two weeks and also all summer (items need to be stored there for next year’s OWU Free store). The school administration may put up a small fight for these rooms, but their reasoning behind denying you these rooms has very little valor; a group of alumni use one of those rooms once a year in the summer. If they make this point tell them that the rooms have been used for this project in the past two years, and that the rooms are so disgusting as it is that they should be ashamed for allowing alumni to step foot in those rooms. Often if you reason through the argument of aesthetics and alumni enjoyment then you can attack the heart of the beast known as the OWU administration.

Shown Below is a variety of pictures we captured from the project and the layout of the different rooms in the Stewart Annex.

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Recommendations/Advice

Learn from our mistakes. I advice all future group that want to take on the May Move Out project to learn from the successes and failures of the past two years of May Move Out’s and improve the project. Please fell free to use any of our signage (Download zipped file of signs here) Google Doc Spreadsheets (previously linked, here), or presentations that we used this year. Also understand that there are many improvements that could be made to our signage, Google Docs, donation bin layouts, etc. and alter these aspects of the project in a way that you see fit best.

The donation boxes we used were given to the school by the International Paper Company; make sure you have over 200 of these boxes at your disposal. OWU typically uses these boxes during large events or graduation when they need easily accessible trash bins, but they should have extras. Contact Building and Grounds in advance about the number of boxes you will need and establish a good relationship with someone in B&G, they can be a huge help for this project when it comes to needing supplies.

Try to recruit as many volunteers as possible. The success of the May Move Out project relies heavily on volunteer participation. The last two weeks of the semester is a difficult time for students, but try to get early commitment from individuals. Also reach out to University administration and faculty; they often have the ability to convince/force students and/or staff to help out. Reach out to the Delaware community for participation. Individuals from the Delaware community expressed interest in helping out this year, but we never had time to follow through with them. At the end of the semester some individuals from the Delaware go through the OWU dumpsters and collect items for charities so there is definitely interest within the community for this type of project.

Make sure you keep strong communication with Res Life and be transparent about exactly what you plan to do. Try to also get more involvement with Res Life physically helping out with the Move Out considering this project overlaps with many of Res Life’s job duties. We had originally asked that the RA’s be more involved with the May Move Out because it pertains to proper room check out and disposal, but we received very little help from the RA’s. My advice is to be really persistent with the RLC’s in getting the RA’s to be involved with the May Move Out. The RA’s do not have to be physically collecting donations, but they should be notifying volunteers when the boxes are full or helping advertise for the event. The RLC’s may tell you that the RA’s already have a lot on their plate and this would be too much extra work; they are lying. You would most likely be asking for a small time commitment and it would fall within their job description of managing the room check out process.

Advertise as much as you can. There are mixed feelings about the best way to advertise around OWU’s campus, but hitting all the different avenues can’t hurt. However, in the grand scheme of the project and regarding time management, this should be a fairly small portion. The bins in each resident halls are pretty self explanatory so students often know the boxes are for donations, but the advertisements around campus could explain the project and also see if students would be interested in volunteering.

Note: The document below describes the first May Move Out, modified for the second May Move Out in 2013, as described above. As with the 2013 report, this report has not been updated so some of the information is out of date.


May Move Out Spring 2012

Sarah D’Alexander, Sean Kinghorn

The Problem

Every year at the end of the spring semester, the strategically placed dumpsters all over campus become completely full and have to be emptied several times during move out week. This would not be such an issue if the dumpsters were full of garbage. However, upon closer inspection, one can find: printers, furniture, clothing, books, lamps, chairs and a wide variety of other reusable things that do not belong in a landfill. This is due to the fact that many students don’t have the time or the ability to transport all of their things back home in the rush of moving out, so they choose the path of least resistance —throwing it away.

We wanted to change this. Colleges all over the United States have dorm move out programs, and we wanted Ohio Wesleyan to be included in this demographic. Our mission was to make donating reusable furniture, school supplies, etc. to be as effortless as throwing them away. This way students would, by default, donate their extra things instead of throwing them into the dumpster. This is not only important for its environmental implications, but it would also economically benefit the university to not have to hire a truck to come empty the dumpsters so many times.

Our overall goals for this project were to:

  • Reduce the amount of solid waste students produced
  • Enforce the reuse of unwanted things
  • Increase awareness on the importance of donating unwanted items
  • To support the OWU Free Store which will be an active resource for the students on campus by the fall semester of 2012.
  • Create a program that is continued every year

Project Setup

Organizing this project was a very large task because in order for it to be successful we needed as many people on campus as possible to be aware of our efforts. We also knew that we were going to need a lot of help!   Upon researching what other schools had done we formulated a “to-do” list. We first had to plan the time-line for the project, so we could make sure that we could get everything done in a timely manner. To do this we worked extensively with Sean Kinghorn, the University’s Sustainability Coordinator, to help him organize and run the project. We also contacted Residential Life and Building and Grounds on campus, so they would be aware of what we wanted to accomplish and to get their cooperation and support. We wanted to collect a variety of things, so we created a donation list that we could hang with the donation bins, so students knew what they could drop off.

Next, we had to recruit volunteers. We did this by advertising our project and our need for student help in any way we could. We posted advertisements in the OWU Daily, created a facebook event where we could keep interested people updated on our progress, put up fliers, and contacted organizations on campus who could help provide volunteers such as: E&W, Circle K, Progress OWU and WCSA.

We tried to get a volunteer representative from each SLU, Fraternity and dorm on campus. This way we could make sure that we had a representative at every donation location that could be available to answer questions, help put up fliers, and let us know when donation bins needed to be emptied. We communicated with volunteers through email and through group meetings where we discussed the logistics of the project.

Gathering Resources

Nearly all of the resources we needed for the project, were donated, borrowed or already owned by the University. Goodwill donated large blue bins with wheels, which we put in each dorm to help move the donations. We also had several dozen large cardboard boxes donated to the university, which we put in each dorm for people to drop off clothing, non-perishable food, and small personal items. Buildings and grounds, while cleaning out storage units, came upon a couple of dozen small hard plastic recycling bins, which we put in the public bathrooms and laundry rooms for people to donate their left-over detergent, shampoo, soap etc. to local charities. All the other cardboard boxes we needed were given to us by the Thompson store.

Day of the Event

This event lasted about two weeks long, as we started receiving donations two weeks before the end of the school year. However, the majority of the donations came during finals week, when people began moving out. Sean Kinghorn and all available volunteers went around to each dorm every day to empty the donation boxes.

We sorted the donations into two piles: one that would go to a charitable organization and one that would go back to the students through the OWU Free Store. Due to our limited space we only accepted appliances, electronics, like-new clothing, and school supplies for the OWU Free Store. We kept these donations in a room at the OWU Annex, next to the Ross Art Museum, to be sorted through and organized.

The busiest days for collecting donations were the last day two days of finals (the Thursday and the Friday the majority of students had to move out by). We had so many donations that it took all morning and afternoon to get through all of the dorms, which we had to return to multiple times a day, since students were constantly dropping off unwanted things during the day.

Also, on the Saturday before finals week, we had the Habitat for Humanity Restore truck on campus all afternoon to collect larger items, such as furniture and appliances. This was especially useful this year because, due to a change in policy, the Fraternity Houses had to get rid of all of the furniture in their houses and the SLUs had to empty their storage rooms. We also had volunteers stationed at the truck to collect clothing or other donations that the Restore truck does not collect.

Results

By the end of the move out, we had collected an astonishing amount of items. A rough calculation determined that there were about 230 boxes donated to Goodwill (11,500 pounds); 2,000 pounds of furniture donated to the Habitat for Humanity Restore, 750 pounds of clothing and linens donated to the Community Free Store, and 70 boxes of donations went to the OWU Free Store (5,250 pounds). This resulted in a net weight of approximately 19,500 pounds of donations (nearly 10 tons!!!)

Also, the dumpsters themselves were emptied much less often than they had been in past years. For example, the large dumpsters behind Smith were emptied for the first time at about noon on the Friday after finals week, when ordinarily they would have already been emptied twice by then. 

Tips

Since this was the first time a project like this had been attempted, there were a number of things that we could have done better.

  • This is a large project so make sure you have at least two committed students heading the efforts along with a staff or faculty advisor
  • Although we had been prepping and discussing the project all semester, we really didn’t start putting boxes out and meeting with the volunteers until mid-April. In the future, it would be better to devise a solid schedule ahead of time. This will make sure you stay on task, keep the volunteers notified on what is going on, and make sure there is a pick-up schedule for all of dorms.
  • Getting committed volunteers was also a problem for us. Although we had been gathering volunteers since March, and we had about 30 responses, barely any of them actually showed up to help on the Thursday or Friday pick-up days. We did, however, have a few committed volunteers in each dorm who really helped us put fliers up and kept us updated on the status of the donations in their dorm.
  • We only had one volunteer meeting to discuss the logistics of the project and, although there was a good turn out, not all of the volunteers could attend. In the future, having a volunteer meeting every couple of weeks would be beneficial; this will help commit the volunteers to the project. During this time you can devise a schedule to make sure you have volunteers each day of the move out week, and assign duties to each volunteer to make sure everything gets done.
  • Even though we had an overwhelming number of donations there were still a number of residences where we did not actively collect donations. We did not have any volunteers from the Williams Drive Residences (4, 23, or 35) and we could not set up boxes there ourselves because only people living in those dorms have access inside. Also, we had participation from only a few SLUs (Tree House, Cow House, House of Thought and the Modern Foreign Language House) we did not have representatives from the other SLUs, so we could not effectively collect donations there. We had a similar problem with the Fraternities where we only had active participation from a couple of them (Alpha Sig and Phi Delt).
  • We only had one van that we used to pick up things from each dorm. This made the pick-ups quite slow, since the van had to take a load to Goodwill or the OWU Free Store after nearly ever dorm. Hiring or getting a volunteer to drive another van would be a huge help in the future.
  • It would have been helpful to have the support of other campus organizations as well. Nearly all of the help we did receive was from members of the Tree House and the Environment and Wildlife Club. It would be beneficial to contact as many organizations as possible, since they already have a group of committed students who could likely help. Organizations to consider are: SLUs, Circle K, Progress OWU, fraternities, sororities, WCSA, and members of ResLife.

When inspecting the dumpsters they contained no visible reusable items, which was a huge accomplishment. However, we did see a lot of recyclable things thrown away. There were more bags of plastic bottles, cans, and cardboard boxes than there was garbage! To take this project one step further in the future, it would be worthwhile to come up with a way to divert the amount of recyclable things thrown away. This could be done by emphasizing what can be recycled, communicating more effectively with buildings and grounds, and putting volunteers on “dumpster duty” to monitor what is going into the dumpsters.

Green Business Survey and Resource Guide

The goal of the Delaware Green Business Project is to create a Green Business Challenge for the City of Delaware in order to help local businesses to become more environmentally sustainable. An online survey and resource guide (downloadable) were created for the project.

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Photograph of historic downtown Delaware, Ohio. Photography by John Hollinger (Source)


Delaware, Ohio Green Business Survey & Resource Guide                      

Spring 2012

Sophie Kiendl, Amy Carr, John Krygier, Sean Kinghorn

Summary

The goal of the Delaware Green Business Project is to create a Green Business Challenge for the City of Delaware in order to help local businesses to become more environmentally sustainable. The Challenge will be initiated with an online survey created for the project. The survey will allow us to monitor various environmental issues related to community businesses over time, and can be connected to the Sustainability Region database. Our main objective is to decrease energy usage, water consumption and waste and improve the performance of commercial and institutional buildings and their operations. We will work with Delaware business to increase the environmentally business practices will decrease their expenditures. The Green Business Project is a business friendly project and will in no way harm participating businesses. We encourage the entire business community to join us and help create a greener community.

Methods and Results

At the beginning of the semester Dr. Krygier informed us that we would be doing class projects involving the environmental sustainability of Ohio Wesleyan University and Delaware County. We had to come up with ideas that both would add depth to the project and interested us. Amy came up with the idea of a Green Business Challenge for Delaware Businesses. The idea came from a previous project she worked on in Charleston, SC, which had the same goal of increasing greener business practices in their community. Amy and I worked with Sean Kinghorn to come up with ideas for what we would like to have involved in our green business challenge to make it effective and applicable to the Delaware County business community. We met weekly to ensure that we could provide our participants with the best possible challenge and resources to complete the challenge. We developed an online survey with 37 questions for the participants to complete with 65 points possible.

Participants will receive this message upon receiving the online survey challenge.

We have sent you the Delaware Green Business Challenge survey. The survey is meant to give you a baseline of how green your business is and an idea of what areas you can improve in. It includes 50 actions that are necessary for a greener business. Once you have completed the survey your answers are collected and your score is generated. There are a 100 points total 4 tiers of achievements. Tier 1 being the highest level of achievement. See the chart below for a breakdown of points needed for each tier.

Along with the challenge businesses will receive a Resource Guide to help green their business. Once each business has finished the challenge we will compute their scores and personally work with them on ways to better their businesses. As well businesses will receive a plaque or certificate showing the public that they have participated (in no circumstances will the businesses scores be shared with the general public, we are here to help not harm!).

See the two documents generated for this project:

  • Green Business Challenge Survey (PDF)
  • Green Business Resource Guide (PDF) (Word)

The survey is in Google Docs format and can be modified and sent to businesses if students are interested in continuing the project. The resource guide, with some updates, can also be used for future projects. Contact John Krygier for more information.

Recommendations (2012)

  1. Consult the City of Delaware Chamber of Commerce. Allow for critique and adjustment of the survey to meet the needs of Delaware businesses. With the approval and backing of the Chamber of Commerce it is possible that more businesses will want to participate in the survey and Green Challenge program. Inquire as to methods of promoting the survey and program.
  1. Consult additional local business organizations, such as Downtown Delaware. Again, allow critique and adjustment of the survey and the Green Challenge program. Inquire as to methods of promoting the survey and program.
  1. Develop educational programs on sustainable practices that are open to the public along with programs only for those that are participating in the program. The educational programs should be hosted by Ohio Wesleyan, which opens the possibility to involve students in the programs. The involvement of both the City of Delaware and Ohio Wesleyan in the program will lead to a stronger relationship between the City and the University. Reach out to the Economics Department to see if students and faculty may be interested in moving the survey, Green Challenge, and additional sustainable practices programs forward.
  1. Directly link the results of the survey to the Sustainability Region database. Institute a program to periodically resurvey businesses to track change over time and assess the impact of the programs promoting sustainable practices.

 

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.

salamanders

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.