September 1, 2020
The Stuble Lab Welcomes Emma Dawson-Glass
Research Specialist, Emma Dawson-Glass, was welcomed by the Stuble lab. Emma’s research will focus on community assembly, species dynamics, and ecosystem function.
August 30, 2020
Rory Schiafo and Emily Galloway Head to Graduate School
The Research Department said goodbye to Emily Galloway and Rory Schiafo, who each began their graduate careers this month. Emily is in a Ph.D. program at Miami University and Rory is in a Ph.D. program at Northwestern University and Chicago Botanic Garden. We wish both of them well, as they go on to study restoration, and can’t wait to watch their scientific careers unfold.
August 30, 2020
The Burke Lab Welcomes Mary Pitts
Research Specialist, Mary Pitts, was welcomed by the Burke lab. Mary will research beech leaf disease (BLD) as part of a collaborative project with the U.S. Forest Service.
August 14, 2020
The Joy of Coding: Raspberry Pi edition
When I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in ecological research and education I knew that there were a lot of new skills that I was going to learn as I obtained my bachelor’s degree and eventually a PhD. I knew I was going to learn how to develop questions, and design research experiments. Although I learned those things during my journey to becoming a postdoctoral researcher, there were many skills that I also developed that I had never even thought would be necessary. Some of those things include how to develop and maintain collaborations, how to convey results through presentations and publications, the publication process, and perhaps the most surprising to me was learning how to code. Learning how to code was not only surprising, but empowering! Once I began coding I was hooked and now use it for all sorts of applications. The main thing that ecologists use coding for is to analyze data in an open source program called R (see Juliana Medeiros post on the topic!). However, coding can also be used for many other things.Read more
August 14, 2020
Exploring the Rhododendron Research Network (R-RN)
The Rhododendron Research Network (R-RN) was founded at Holden in 2017 to increase collaboration and dissemination of Rhododendron research, to connect scientists with each other and with plant enthusiasts from across the globe.
With 900+ species in the genus, representing a broad range of physiology and ecology, Rhododendron is the focal point of studies all over the world, ranging from horticulture and breeding, to conservation and restoration, to ecology and evolution, to medicinal chemistry and ethnobotany. In addition, Rhododendron’s popularity as ornamental and medicinal plants dates back over 500 years, highlighting the enormous potential of these plants to connect seemingly-distant problems like conservation and medicine, or gardening and climate change, to solve the big mysteries of how biodiversity arises, why it matters to humans, and how to preserve it.
August 11, 2020
The Stuble Lab’s Research Highlighted in Science Magazine
Katie Stuble was quoted in Science magazine. She was interviewed about the work she has done with ants, which disperse the seeds of forest wildflowers. This article in Science (found here) followed a presentation Katie made at the Ecological Society of America meeting last week (all-virtual meeting this year). Katie’s presentation was based on the work she and some of her summer research interns, including 2017 Norweb Fellow Sergio Sabat Bonilla, have conducted over the last few years in Stebbins Gulch.
August 1, 2020
Members of Holden’s Research Department Attend Remote Conferences
This summer, scientific societies opted to hold their national meetings virtually and research from Holden was presented. Scientist Na Wei attended the Botanical Society of America’s remote annual meeting from July 27-31. She presented on “Polyploidy confers ecological advantage in wild and synthetic Fragaria” during the symposium session “From Genes to Distributions: physiological ecology as an integrator of polyploid biology.” The Ecological Society of America held their annual meeting from August 3-6 and Holden scientist Katie Stuble and PhD candidate Sharon Danielson remotely attended. Katie Stuble presented work exploring forest biodiversity and processes across Holden’s patchwork of land use history. Her talk was titled “Ant-mediated see dispersal in today’s forests: How agricultural abandonment and earthworm invasion are driving seed dispersal .” Sharon Danielson presented her research on variability in tree communities between urban and rural forests in her talk, “Assessing tree community structure in urban remnant forests and rural forests.”
July 31, 2020
Science on Friday: One Fruit, Two Fruit, Red Fruit, Blue Fruit
Ohio’s forests have changed over the last 200 years. Few old-growth forests remain as much of the land was timbered and cleared for agriculture in the early 19th century. Most forests in the northeastern U.S. sit on land used for agriculture as recently as 40 to 85 years ago. After years of disturbance from farming activities, there are challenges for forests trying to regenerate. These young forests tend to have high numbers of introduced species (originating from other parts of the world) that compete with native species. They also tend to be crowded with smaller trees which happens when many trees began growing all at the same time. To restore the historic integrity of these forests, forest managers remove non-native plants while thinning dense tree stands through timbering. These management actions aim to improve the health of the forest and increase their ability to act as ecosystem superheroes – combating climate change by storing carbon, protecting biodiversity by providing habitat for wildlife, and improving water quality by regulating rain water.Read more
July 24, 2020
How does “the early bird gets the worm” play out in plant communities?
You’ve heard the phrase “the early bird gets the worm”. We use it to indicate that getting somewhere first can come with big benefits. It’s snagging the choicest donuts in the office lunchroom, or the best seats in the movie theater. And so it goes in the natural world. Being the first species to get to a new place has advantages. Early plants can grab the space, shade out species that come later, take up valuable nutrients from the soil, and establish large root networks for water uptake. In ecology, we have a term for this sort of early-bird benefit – priority effects. And these priority effects can play an outsized role in determining what species you’ll find in a certain area.Read more
July 3, 2020
The surprising way Jack-in-the-Pulpit initiates pollination…
Some of the most fun stories we have in science are about surprising discoveries. Most people think of these as “eureka” moments. We can picture a scientist in a lab seeing something unexpected and shouting with excitement. “Eureka!” But, in science, these “eureka” moments don’t really exist. When we make a surprising observation, it’s not always immediately clear that what we have witnessed is, in fact, surprising at all. Today for #ScienceonFridayswithHolden, we’d like to share an observation made by our department chair, David Burke. It is a story about an unlikely pollinator and is fitting as we wrapped up #NationalPollinatorMonth earlier this week.Read more
July 1, 2020
Latest Newsletter Released by the Rhododendron Research Network
Read the latest news in Rhododendron research in the July 2020 edition of the Rhododendron Research Network Newsletter (found here). This network, led by Holden Scientist Dr. Juliana Medeiros and Dr. Erik Nilsen of Virginia Tech University, has attracted and connected prominent researchers from around the globe for collaborative projects, including researchers in China, the US, Canada, India, Japan, the UK and Germany, and connected them with community science volunteers based both in the American Rhododendron Society and at Holden. Please visit http://rhodo-research.net to learn more about how the Rhododendron Research Network is advancing Rhododendron horticulture, research and conservation, and increasing awareness of genus Rhododendron as one of Earth’s biodiversity treasures.
June 26, 2020
Pollinator Research at the Arboretum with Dr. Na Wei
Why do we care about pollinators? Pollinators are important creatures in natural ecosystems and our daily life because they provide vital services to wild plants and our crops. Pollinators carry and deliver pollen to facilitate plant fertilization to produce fruits and seeds. These fruits serve as food for many animals in nature, and the seeds are next-generation offspring to maintain plant persistence. Nearly 300,000 wild plants (87% of flowering plants) depend on pollinators and their services. For humans, 75% of our leading crop species and 35% of global food production depend on pollinators, including our favorite ones (e.g. apples, strawberries, pears, tomatoes, coffee, etc.)Read more
June 19, 2020
Science on Friday: Spring phenology monitoring wraps for the year
As spring transitions to summer, we’re wrapping up this year’s spring phenology monitoring in Bole Woods at the Holden Arboretum. Have you heard the term phenology before? Phenology is the study of the timing of natural phenomena – anything that has a seasonal signal. When does Trillium flower? When do hummingbirds arrive in northeast Ohio for the summer? Over the past few decades, phenology has been the canary in the coal mine for ecologists studying the ecological impacts of climate change. Phenology has been one of the earliest ecological parameters observed to shift with the changing climate, and continues to shift ever more strongly as the climate continues to warm.Read more
June 12, 2020
Plant–pollinator interactions and the role of the flower microbiome in crabapples
Science on FridayRead more
June 12, 2020
Harnessing microbiomes in crabapples: II. Getting seeds for testing microbiome functions
Plants are associated with numerous microorganisms in the wild. Some of these microorganisms are beneficial but others, such as pathogens, can be harmful to plants. Thus, maintaining a healthy microbiome is key to plant health. For crabapples (i.e. the wild apples, Malus), we have observed that some crabapple cultivars/species are more disease resistant than others at the National Crabapple Evaluation Project Plot at Holden. Our previous work published on the Malus: International Ornamental Crabapple Society Bulletin with Holden students Jessica LaBella and Eve Kaufman has identified many fungi associated with crabapples.Read more
June 5, 2020
Science on Friday – Intern program
As a scientist at the Holden Arboretum, I wear many hats, but one of my favorites is mentor to our summer interns. Each year, Holden’s Research Department brings in students from around the country to join us in our labs, gardens, and forests. These students help us collect valuable data used to make new discoveries about the role of plants in our natural world, and in turn, get to try their hand at being a scientist. Many of them will go on to become scientists themselves.Read more
June 1, 2020
David Burke and Adam Hoke Co-Authored a Study on Beech Leaf Disease
The Burke lab is continuing research on beech leaf disease and had another paper published. This paper was led by Sharon Reed who is with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. David Burke and Adam Hoke are co-authors on the study, as we contributed data from Holden’s lower Baldwin research plots on nematode population size. This paper appeared in Forest Pathology and can be found here.
May 29, 2020
Promoting Healthy Forests Through Research at Working Woods
By Rory Schiafo, Research Specialist
If you have been hiking on the Bole Woods loop in the last two years, you may have noticed some strange white pipes sticking out of the ground, or perhaps a group of eager young ecologists measuring trees or counting seedlings. “What is this all about?”, you may ask yourself. This is Working Woods, a 76-acre living laboratory where a 40-year-old forest is currently undergoing a transformation, and in the process is teaching us how to manage Ohio’s valuable forests.Read more
May 28, 2020
Holden’s Leach Station in the Akron Beacon Journal
Pictures of Connor Ryan, Holden’s Rhododendron Collections Manager, and some of the sites around the David G. Leach Research Station were part of an online piece by the Akron Beacon Journal. Take a look at the pictures here.
May 26, 2020
Katie Stuble is a Co-Author on a Study Published in the Journal Ecology
Katie Stuble co-authored a paper titled “Year effects: Inter-annual variation as a driver of community assembly dynamics” for the journal Ecology. The published study explores the substantial, but rarely acknowledged, impacts of interannual variability on the outcomes of community assembly (the process by which new plant communities come together). You can read the article here.
May 26, 2020
Understanding How Trees Respond to Their Urban Environment
As urban areas expand, they leave isolated forest patches in their wake. The effects of urban areas such as higher temperatures, water flow changes, and increased pollution are not limited to the city, however, and can cause a ripple effect through the surrounding areas. I want to know how forests are shaped by their neighboring cities. I study the anatomical and physiological traits of trees that will help us understand if, and how, trees are able to respond to the urban environment. I also plan to investigate one of the most under-studied aspects of urban forests—Can the seedlings from urban trees, such as the red maples shown in the photos here, inherit traits from their parents that differ from those in rural forests? To do this I am collecting samaras (maple seeds) from red maple trees growing in urban and rural forests. I will grow them in a greenhouse and, when the seedlings have grown, I will see how they differ in leaf structure and function. This is the very first step to exploring how urban forests of the future will function.Read more
May 20, 2020
The Research Department Welcomes Summer Interns
Holden’s Research Department is hosting local students for our summer intern program. Due to COVID-19, the majority of our summer research is being conducted in the field and in a socially-distant manner. The summer research projects range in topics that include the Malus apple microbiome, forest restoration, phenology of spring ephemerals, tree response to their urban environment, and the expansion of red cedar range.
May 15, 2020
How genus Rhododendron became my favorite plant species
As a plant scientist I am often asked the question, “What is your favorite plant species?” The truth is, I can’t pick just one. What I love about plants is their diversity, so, this is the story of how an entire genus of plants became my favorite, and how our research on genus Rhododendron at Holden Forests & Gardens helps us to conserve biodiversity and solve the mystery as to why there are so many different kinds of plants on Earth.Read more
May 8, 2020
What makes a native tree become invasive?
Invasive species. The term brings to mind organisms that have been moved around by people, either accidentally or for a purpose, that are now causing problems. For example, here in Ohio we are plagued by invasive plants like garlic mustard, which was introduced by European settlers, that outcompetes native plants and is costly to remove. But in some occasions native plants become invasive and expand their ranges and replace other native species. One such plant is eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), which is expanding its range westward into remnant grasslands as well as expanding into new niches within its historic range. The range expansion of native plants does beg the question, does it matter? Does the replacement of one native with another native harm the ecosystem? Our case of the slow invasion of red cedar (unaffectionately called the green glacier) is causing concern since it is expanding into historic grasslands, many of which have already been converted to agriculture or urban areas. Replacement by red cedar in these areas may cause endemic species to become endangered or go extinct. To better understand why this native plant is becoming invasive the ecology and physiology of red cedar needs to be examined more closely.Read more
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