By Sam Wershow ’10
After Mac: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Native Fish Investigation Project.
My summer research on buckthorn capped off a great academic experience with the Macalester Biology Department.
I was charged with generating the baseline data for a long-term study on the effects of buckthorn on local biodiversity at the Katharine Ordway Natural History Study Area. The Ordway field station is an incredible resource for an undergraduate institution. It encompasses nearly 300 acres of restored prairie and woodland, along with a fully functional field station. Students can also hike, snowshoe and camp on the property.
My research involved collaboration with four members of the biology faculty. Local land management agencies and environmental groups spend huge amounts of resources attempting to eradicate buckthorn and other invasive species. Often, these efforts are not informed by real data on the purported negative impacts of the invasives. To measure the impact of buckthorn in a forest ecosystem, I compared study plots with buckthorn to plots without it. I investigated the leaf litter arthropod community, surveyed vegetation, took soil samples, and even installed motion-activated cameras to study bird frugivory (fruit-eating). I was able to spend most of the summer working outdoors, becoming familiar with the local flora and fauna.