March 28, 2021

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?

Read more
Our Workhorse Forests and Acid Rain

March 28, 2021

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
Ecological Paths Through a Yellow Wood

March 28, 2021

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.

Read more
Curating a Collection

March 28, 2021

Crabapples: a ripe system for research

Crabapples, the wild apple species and cultivars (Malus spp.), are important members of the rose family. Crabapples produce profuse blossom (Fig. 1) and small fruits (Fig. 2)1. Many crabapples are cultivated as ornamental trees or rootstocks, and their apples can be used for preserves1. Common crabapples1 (Fig. 1) include the European crabapple (Malus sylvestris), the Caucasian crabapple (Malus orientalis), the Siberian crabapple (Malus baccata), and the crabapples native to North American such as Malus angustifoliaMalus coronariaMalus ioensis, and Malus fusca.

Read more
Crabapples: a ripe system for research

March 28, 2021

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.

Read more
Science on Friday: the Art and Science of Grafting

March 28, 2021

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
National Mushroom Month Continues – Lessons in Fungal Ecology and Conservation

March 28, 2021

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
Mushrooms: the hardest working recyclers in the forest

March 28, 2021

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
The Joy of Coding: Raspberry Pi edition

March 28, 2021

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.

Read more

March 28, 2021

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
Science on Friday: One Fruit, Two Fruit, Red Fruit, Blue Fruit

March 28, 2021

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
How does “the early bird gets the worm” play out in plant communities?

March 28, 2021

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
The surprising way Jack-in-the-Pulpit initiates pollination…

March 28, 2021

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
Pollinator Research at the Arboretum with Dr. Na Wei

March 28, 2021

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
Science on Friday: Spring phenology monitoring wraps for the year

March 28, 2021

Science on Friday: Plant–pollinator interactions and the role of the flower microbiome in crabapples

Today we are continuing our story of ornamental apples (crabapples). Plants are living in a microbial world. They interact not only with microbes in the soil but also the ones living in their flowers. These microbial partners can be beneficial or harmful, and thus hold the key for plant disease resistance and health. Our research aims to understand the factors that determine which microbes and how many of them are in flowers (i.e. flower microbiome).

Read more
Science on Friday: Plant–pollinator interactions and the role of the flower microbiome in crabapples

March 28, 2021

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
Science on Friday – Intern program

March 26, 2021

Promoting Healthy Forests Through Research at Working Woods

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
Promoting Healthy Forests Through Research at Working Woods

March 26, 2021

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
How genus Rhododendron became my favorite plant species

March 26, 2021

Coding in plant biology, who knew?

I never viewed myself as a math person, let alone a computer coder. I have always loved nature, animals and plants, these are what drew me to plant biology. But somehow, coding has become one of my favorite parts of my research at Holden Forests & Gardens. Looking back, maybe it isn’t too surprising. In 1977 my mother was one of the few women in the world working on a graduate degree in computer science, with 7-year-old me in tow as she taught her evening course. She jokes about how I used to doodle with my markers and then raise my little hand to ask and answer questions in her class, and now I often reflect on this as the first moments of joy I found in coding.

Read more
Coding in plant biology, who knew?

March 25, 2021

Long-term Research in Forest Ecology in Stebbins Gulch

We began our long-term climate research in Stebbins Gulch in 2006. Our goal was to monitor how plants and soil fungi that associate with plant roots (called mycorrhizal fungi) respond to changes in air and soil temperature and moisture. This shows one of our two weather stations in the old-growth beech-maple forest in Stebbins. The beech tree in the background that toppled over in 2015 was more about 219 years old when it fell based on tree ring data – the tree began to grow in 1796.

Read more
Long-term Research in Forest Ecology in Stebbins Gulch

March 25, 2021

Research Spotlight: Exploring Fire Blight in Ornamental Apple Trees

By Katie Stuble, PhD, Scientist

Plants are living in a microbial world. They interact not only with microbes in the soil but also the ones living in their flowers. These microbial partners can be beneficial or harmful. One of the most devastating epidemics in ornamental apple trees – fire blight – is caused by bacterial infection initiated during bloom, and can be spread from flower to flower by visiting pollinators. Breakthrough in suppressing this pathogenic microbe is needed.

At Holden, we aim to develop plant probiotics against fire blight using beneficial flower microbes from the resistant cultivars of ornamental apples (crabapples). Holden has established an invaluable resource of crabapple cultivar collection for over 30 years. At Holden’s long-term experiment plot of crabapples, every single tree has been permanently tagged. These cultivars differ in their flowers such as color and smell and diPlants are living in a microbial world. They interact not only with microbes in the soil but also the ones living in their flowers. These microbial partners can be beneficial or harmful. One of the most devastating epidemics in ornamental apple trees – fire blight – is caused by bacterial infection initiated during bloom, and can be spread from flower to flower by visiting pollinators. Breakthrough in suppressing this pathogenic microbe is needed.sease resistance. We will monitor their flowering and study flower microbes.

Read more
Research Spotlight: Exploring Fire Blight in Ornamental Apple Trees

January 1, 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
Stuble Lab Receives <em>Invasive Plants Research</em> Grant

September 18, 2020

Holden Forests & Gardens Celebrates October with Fun Fall Experiences for All Ages

Experience fall in all its beauty this October at the Holden Arboretum and Cleveland Botanical Garden. Along with soaking up fall colors from new heights on the arboretum’s Murch Canopy Walk and Kalberer Emergent Tower, visitors can enjoy special family programming during a Halloween Whodunnit Mystery from Saturday, October 3rd – Sunday, October 18th and explore the grounds on a Leaf Trail through October. The botanical garden will usher in fall fun with gorgeous outdoor fall plants and container arrangements, Children’s Strolling Storytime, and a new Holden Halloween House Party activity pack program.

Read more
Holden Forests & Gardens Celebrates October with Fun Fall Experiences for All Ages

What can we help you find?

Return to site

Help us all thrive. Make a donation