Ordway Field Station
The Katharine Ordway Natural History Study Area (Ordway field station) is located on the bluffs of the Mississippi River, 17 miles from campus. The nearly 300-acre site features a lake, tall grass prairie, oak savanna, and forest habitats.
My research at the Ordway field station taught me that nothing happens in isolation and while it may be tempting to classify a non-native species as “invasive,” there is much more to the story. Natural resources organizations everywhere are grappling with this issue.
“It was exciting to check our motion-sensing cameras—we even caught a few mammals red-handed. The research questions became our own.”
—Yuris Martinez ’13
With three other students, I participated in a long-term study on the spread of garlic mustard throughout the oak forest at Ordway. Garlic mustard, a non-native plant, has been successful at establishing itself in forested habitats. In some locations researchers have found that the increase in garlic mustard coincides with a decrease in native plant species. Yet it’s still unclear whether it’s driving a decrease in native plant species or simply taking advantage of changing ecological conditions.
There are many possibilities for ecological research at the Ordway. I also participated in a new study investigating predators and bird eggs. We created artificial nests that held both a quail egg and a handmade clay egg to test for predation levels and to identify predators. It was exciting to check our motion-sensing cameras—we even caught a few mammals red-handed.
The research questions became our own and we were proud to have designed and conducted our own research studies.