February 12, 2021
A Lady’s Slipper Update on the Eve of Orchids Forever
A lot of science and conservation is learning by doing, so I would like to provide an update on our lady’s slipper orchid conservation project. This is our first time growing orchids from seed. On December 11, 2020, Field Station Specialist Jing Wang and I sowed seeds of Cypripedium reginae, the showy lady’s slipper, collected in a Holden natural area. Details of the first steps can be seen in a previous blog entry here. It has now been nine weeks since we sowed the seeds, and we have good news to report. We have germination!Read more
February 5, 2021
Biotic Homogenization – Changes in biodiversity with urbanization in vacant lots
By Megan Herrmann, Graduate Student, Cleveland State University
The current biodiversity crisis seen in headlines has many overarching implications for ecosystems worldwide. Humans frequently aid in the dispersal of non-native species through both accidental and intentional introductions. Urban areas, as hotspots of human activity and disturbance, are thought to contribute to the spread of non-native species and create similar environmental pressures worldwide. Altogether, urbanization is thought to contribute to the increasing similarity of biotic communities, a process known as biotic homogenization.Read more
January 26, 2021
Stuble Lab Receives Invasive Plants Research Grant
Holden Scientist, Katie Stuble, and graduate student, Alexa Wagner, have received funding from the Ohio Invasive Plants Council. Their project, titled “Determining dynamics responsible for plant community responses to overstory thinning and invasive species management,” was awarded funding for $1,500. This support will help efforts to quantify the impacts management in Working Woods has on the survival and growth of young invasive species, as well as, the reproductive success of adult shrub species. This information will hopefully help predict restoration outcomes and inform management aiming to reestablish native plant communities.Read more
January 22, 2021
The Life Beneath the Snow
The month of January, with its freezing temperatures and leaf-less trees, is a time when it’s easy to think of nature as dormant. While this might be true for deciduous trees and hibernating animals, this is far from true for soil organisms, such as fungi. These decomposers are very active during the winter decomposing the leaf litter that fell just months prior! Snow cover is beneficial for this decomposition because it insulates the ground and keeps the soil from freezing. Snow cover does more than just keep the soil from freezing, it keeps soil temperatures stable. The soil ecology lab at HF&G has been monitoring soil temperatures in the forests of Stebbins Gulch since 2006. Soil temperature loggers record soil temperature every 8 minutes throughout the year. Year after year, soils in the winter are stable and typically just above freezing. Once the spring arrives and the snow cover is no longer constant, soil temperatures become much more variable. The now exposed soils can more easily freeze with cold night-time air temperatures and then thaw with the warmer air temperatures of the day.Read more
January 15, 2021
Meeting the Grand Botanic Garden Challenge at Holden Forests & Gardens
When we consider the major challenges facing humanity today, it is exciting to think that plants can provide a myriad of sustainable solutions. Problems with water quality, our dependence on fossil fuels, food insecurity, and even emerging human diseases can all be addressed, if only we can find the right plant for the job. Plants have amazing capabilities to alter ecosystem function and soothe our ailments, and over evolutionary time they have adapted and acclimated to inhabit nearly every environment on earth, with their ability to capture energy from sunlight forming the basis of life as we know it.Read more
January 8, 2021
How do deer and forest edges shape Northeast Ohio forests?
One of Northeast Ohio’s most charismatic consumer of plants within our forests is the white-tailed deer. Perhaps you’ve even noticed their impacts in your own backyard garden. As yards and people take up more space, there are fewer large tracts of intact forests to support predatory animals (e.g., bear or bobcat) relying on those habitats. This lack of predators combines with an abundant supply of food for deer (possibly the hostas planted in your backyard), to drive high numbers of white-tailed deer in most Ohio forests (and beyond).Read more
December 11, 2020
Sowing Orchid Seeds In Vitro
Orchids are among the most ornamental and diverse groups of plants in the world. We often think of them as epiphytes, growing on trees in the tropics. Many would be surprised to know that there are orchids native to Ohio and that they do not grow in trees. Our native orchids grow in the ground and are called terrestrial orchids. Ohio has approximately 47 native orchid species, and of them, the lady’s slippers may be the showiest.
Ohio has 5 native species of lady’s slippers (genus Cypripedium) and one naturally occurring hybrid. Holden has three of these species growing in our natural areas. Lady’s slippers are characterized by a modified sepal, or labellum, that is shaped, you guessed it, like a lady’s slipper. This labellum serves to attract pollinators, mainly bees, to the orchid. Once a lady’s slipper is pollinated, a fruit called a capsule forms and maturity splits open to disperse thousands of tiny, dust-like seeds.
December 4, 2020
The Biodiversity Belowground: Celebrating World Soil Day
When we think of all the organisms on Earth, it’s soil that holds a substantial portion of this biodiversity. In just one teaspoon of clean, uncontaminated soil there can be up to 1 billion bacterial cells and close to 1 million different microbial species. Soils can harbor tens of thousands of species of fungi that can help plants acquire essential nutrients, decompose organic matter, and fight pathogens belowground. Antibiotics, such as streptomycins and tetracyclines, are produced by soil bacteria and fungi. Soil biota can be essential for bioremediation, a process where pollutants are degraded and ecosystems are cleaned. Soil bacteria and fungi, along with a number of invertebrates, decompose organic matter, such as rotting logs and fallen leaves; this decomposition may be key for sequestering carbon belowground and helping to mitigate the effects of climate change.Read more
November 20, 2020
Bridging the Diversity Gap in Plant Science Internships
On November 18th Dr. Juliana Medeiros was invited to make a presentation about the Holden Research Internship Program for The Morton Arboretum virtual workshop: Bridging the Diversity Gap in Plant Science Internships. This workshop represents the first steps in building a network of science-based institutions that provide research internships, with the goal of promoting and enhancing diversity in the STEM workforce.Read more
November 13, 2020
Our Workhorse Forests and Acid Rain
Our forests are not only beautiful, but also environmental powerhouses, pumping out oxygen, filtering runoff, and storing carbon that would otherwise collect in the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. In fact, forests are our most promising tool to naturally mitigate climate change. But, not all forests are created equal and they vary in their ability to take up and store carbon.
Last week, Holden scientist David Burke introduced you to an amazing and long-running experiment manipulating acid rain deposition within Holden’s forests. This experiment, running for 11 years now, deacidifies the soil in large forested plots at Holden to explore how forests likely functioned before the impacts of acid rain. David and his team have explored everything from tree growth and nutrients, to soil microbes in response to these experimental treatments. But, what might these sorts of chronic changes in our forests mean for their ability to store carbon, and ultimately mitigate climate change?
November 6, 2020
Ecological Paths Through a Yellow Wood
It’s that time of year when the woods turn yellow – or orange and red depending on where you live – and shine with the vibrance of fall color. This perennial autumn display represents the process of nutrient recycling and recovery by trees before they lose their leaves for the season. A process that results in the recovery of nitrogen and phosphorous, major plant nutrients that can be costly to obtain from soil, from dying leaves. This process of recycling is what reveals the yellow, orange and red pigments normally masked by the green plant pigment chlorophyll. But not all nutrients within a leaf can be recycled and many are lost when they drop from the tree onto the forest floor. This presents an opportunity for other organisms to use those nutrients lost by the trees (a process called decomposition which we’ll explore next week) and also an opportunity for plant scientists to explore how human change to our environment affects and alters tree biology. And that is the subject of this week’s post.Read more
October 30, 2020
Holden Scientists Publish Commentary in New Phytologist
October 30, 2020 – Holden Scientist, Juliana Medeiros, and Postdoctoral Scholar, Randy Long, have published a commentary in the new issue of New Phytologist. The commentary discusses how studies of root traits and their influence on water transport in plants need to include the evolutionary history of the plant species. The commentary can be read here.
October 23, 2020
Curating a Collection
As Rhododendron collections manager at Holden Forests & Gardens I wear many ericaceous hats, but at the core of my job is curating the Holden Rhododendron Collection. This role differs from most of the other folks in the Holden Research Department, who are actively trying to create new knowledge and solve problems. My job is to build a plant collection that facilitates this.
Having one person to curate a collection of one group of plants is a unique role at a public garden, but it makes sense for us. Between the David G. Leach Research Station, Helen S. Layer Rhododendron Garden, and the Eliot and Linda Paine Rhododendron Discovery Garden, HF&G has nearly 60 acres dedicated to Rhododendron collection and display. When we think about building a collection, we think about four main institutional focuses: research, conservation, education, and display.
October 20, 2020
Holden Researcher is Guest Instructor at Lake Erie College
Holden Research Associate, Sarah Kyker, was invited to Lake Erie College (LEC) as a guest lab instructor for Dr. Deborah Schulman’s Microbiology class for the second year in a row. For the two-part lab, the LEC students extracted total DNA from soil samples and then used an established biotechnology method called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to amplify bacterial species living in the soil. The analyzed soil samples are being used to compare new and old growth forests at Holden, however the techniques that the students learned can be used to analyze communities of microbes living anywhere.
October 16, 2020
Urban Trees have been getting a lot of attention in the scientific and sociological worlds lately. Trees provide many benefits including shade in the warm urban areas, mental health improvement, and particulate matter capture. While the benefits trees provide for humans are numerous, we also need to understand how the stress of the urban environment affects tree function and survival. The urban environment can be a stressful environment for plants due to the elevated temperatures, compact soils, and elevated carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. These stressors have the potential to negatively impact the benefits the trees provide. Urban foresters are keenly aware of the impact on tree growth and lifespan and have been studying the success of urban tree species and planting techniques for decades. Many have explored the best tree species and cultivars to plant in an urban environment and how trees in the city (i.e. street trees) are negatively impacted by the heat and compacted soil of these areas.Read more
October 16, 2020
Katie Stuble is Lead Author on a Paper in Ecological Monographs
Katie Stuble is the first author on a paper titled “The promise and the perils of resurveying to understand global change impacts.” This paper is in the May 2021 issue of Ecological Monographs and can be read here.
October 9, 2020
Crabapples: a ripe system for research
Science on FridayRead more
October 8, 2020
Greenhouse Study Conducted at Holden Published in the Journal Oecologia
The current issue of the journal Oecologia includes an article titled “The soil biotic community protects Rhododendron spp. across multiple clades from the oomycete Phytophthora cinnamomi at a cost to plant growth.” This article, which includes Holden Scientist Juliana Medeiros and Holden Adjunct Scientist and CWRU professor Jean Burns as co-authors, details a greenhouse study led by CWRU graduate student Yu Liu that was conducted at Holden. The study tested the effects of soil biota on disease resistance and plant traits across four clades of Rhododendron and can be read here.
October 2, 2020
Science on Friday: the Art and Science of Grafting
Grafting is an ancient technique of joining two distinct plants together. Grafts occur naturally or they can occur through human intervention. In practice, grafting usually involves the joining of the shoots of one plant (termed the “scion”) to the roots of another (termed the “rootstock” or “understock”).
In ornamental horticulture, some of the most recognizable plants are grafted. The redbud you purchased at your local garden center is grafted. Your favorite Japanese maple is grafted. The weeping cherry tree in your front yard is grafted. Food crops like apples, cherries, and grapes are also grafted.
October 1, 2020
Study on Lesser Celandine Published in the Journal Biological Invasions
David Burke, Holden’s Vice President for Science and Conservation, and Postdoctoral Research Associate, Sarah Kyker, are co-authors on a study of lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) that is in the current issue of Biological Invasions. The study was conducted in the laboratories at the Long Science Center by Allison Paolucci who, at the time, was an undergraduate at Cleveland State University working with professor Emily Rauschert. The project investigated how fungi that were associated with the roots of lesser celandine, including ericoid mycorrhizal fungi and dark septate fungi, potentially influence plant performance. The published article can be read here.
September 18, 2020
National Mushroom Month Continues – Lessons in Fungal Ecology and Conservation
My name is Claudia and I’m the newest member of the team here at the Long Science Center at Holden Arboretum. I’m a recent graduate of the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry with a Master of Science in Forest Pathology and Mycology. I am joining Holden Forests and Gardens to continue my education and earn my Ph.D. through a joint program with Case Western Reserve University. My research centers on a type of fungi known as mycorrhizal fungi. Mycorrhizal fungi form mutually beneficial relationships with plants (mutualisms!). Mutualism means that both organisms benefit. In exchange for photosynthates (i.e., fixed carbon) from the plant, mycorrhizal fungi provide the plant with nutrients from the soil, especially nitrogen and phosphorus.Read more
September 15, 2020
The Wei Lab Welcomes Jessica LaBella
Jessica LaBella began a year-long internship in the Wei Lab this month thanks to funding from the R. Henry Norweb, Jr. Fellowship for Scientific Research in Horticulture. Jessica graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College with a B.S. in Molecular Biology and a minor in Chemistry this May. Her research at Holden will focus on the effects of the rhizosphere and environmental microbes on plant physiology and plant-to-plant interactions.
September 5, 2020
The Research Department Welcomes Ph.D. Student Claudia Victoroff
Claudia Victoroff is a new Ph.D. student in David Burke’s lab and was welcomed by the Research Department this month. She holds a Master of Science degree from the State University of New York and will continue her research on mycorrhizal fungi during her Ph.D., which is jointly hosted by Case Western Reserve University and Holden Forests and Gardens.
September 4, 2020
Mushrooms: the hardest working recyclers in the forest
September is one of our favorite months in the Holden Forests and Gardens Soil Ecology lab. Why? Because it is National Mushroom Month. Many people celebrate National Mushroom Month by cooking and eating their favorite mushrooms. And we do too! But, in the Holden Research Department, we also celebrate National Mushroom Month by appreciating all that fungi do for forest health.Read more
What can we help you find?