13th Annual UW Arboretum Science Day
Over fifty citizens braving slippery, wintery conditions viewed five talks and six posters at the Arboretum’s 13th Annual Science Day. Attendees were once again impressed with the variety and quality of the research presentations saying, “great talks,” “they get better every year,” and more.
Dr. Phil Townsend’s keynote talk described how hyperspectral satellite imaging technology along with other field measurements can help scientists, land managers and the public assess the health of urban forests. High resolution satellite images provide another tool to track changes in ecosystem services such as tree height, growth and nutrient uptake in response to climate change and land management.
Keeping with the climate and land use theme, Chris Latimer is asking “How might climate and landscape characteristics interact to influence winter bird survival?” In addition, Jason Schatz has deployed 142 temperature and humidity sensors throughout urban Madison and adjacent rural areas to detect and track urban heat islands. Preliminary data suggests that the Arboretum is a “cool” oasis in an otherwise “warm” Madison dominated by heat retaining roads and roof tops. Insects are also being studied.
Insect communities are being studied. Todd Johnson is investigating the diversity of parasitoids and other insects associated with native borer species’ (two-lined chestnut borer, bronze birch borer and bronze poplar borer). This research may help inform bio-control measures for the emerald ash borer. Do you know how many species of aphids there are in Wisconsin? Natalie Hernandez is out to answer that question. In less than two years, she and her colleagues have already collected specimens from 82 genera where only 7 had been previously archived at the Department of Entomology’s Insect Research Collection. How have the insect and plant communities changed in 200 southern WI prairie remnants over the past 60 years? Amy Alstad and Kaitlin Rienzo-Stack will investigate these relationships. Plants are also being studied. What do we know about Ladies’ Tresses orchids? Not much according to Matthew Pace. He is investigating the genetic diversity and pollination requirements of this genus. Josh Thiede a senior at UW, confirmed that the orientation of Compass Plant leaves effects plant growth. Leah Dittberner, a junior at UW, analyzed the spring 2012 prescribed fire in central Curtis Prairie and found that dead stems of gray dogwood were the most consistent indicators of “effective fire.” Isabel Rojas-Viada tested the effect of four sampling scales (0.25-16 m2) on perceptions about invasive plants; reed canary grass consistently decreased vegetation diversity at all 4 scales and across all 7 sites.
Jim Doherty, Jeff Miller and Stephanie Prellwitz reported their integrated measures of six wetland ecosystem services, five of which were provided at peak levels in a swale that infiltrated the most urban runoff and produced the least plant biomass, contrary to assumptions in regulatory guidelines. To read abstracts about all presentations, click here.