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
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
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