Scientific research and monitoring are essential components in the management of natural areas. A true science-based adaptive management strategy involves a continual cycle of planning, implementation, monitoring, and re-evaluation. Understanding the needs, threats, and impacts of our actions (or inactions) is fundamental to the long-term conservation and preservation of our natural areas and thier significant biodiversity.
Presently, with the increasing conservation challenges we face, our needs for monitoring and research exceed our ability to accomplish the necessary science. In response, the Natural Areas Program has identified the following potential research and monitoring projects, to provide direction, focus, and to highlight needs and opportunities to interested students and faculty.
Priority for research opportunities.
- Understanding deer impacts to our native flora. Monitor exclosed (unbrowsed) and browsed vegetation plots in the Fall Creek Natural Area. Monitor deer impacts on off-campus natural areas, and evaluate the effectiveness of our deer managment programs.
- Determine the effectiveness of our famous "Toad Tunnel" to determine the extent to which amphibians are funneled through our drift fence and road culvert.
- Adopt a rare plant for annual census work (multiple sites and species).
- Monitor the recovery of native vegetation following Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica) control efforts.
- Establish photo-monitoring points (multiple sites).
- Determine whether juglone, a chemical produced by walnut trees, inhibits the growth of the invasive pale swallow-wort (Cynanchum rossicum).