The Urban Subnivium

Kimberly Thompson, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, UW–Madison
Advisors: Jonathan Pauli, and Benjamin Zuckerberg

Comparing the Arboretum with less natural greenspaces in Madison, this project will examine how winter urban temperatures interact with urban morphological features to influence subnivium phenology and stability by tracking air temperature, ground temperature, and snow depth throughout winter 2018–19.

The Ubiquitous Unseen: Past and Present Exposition of the Arboretum’s Mycoflora

Alden Dirks, Department of Agronomy, UW–Madison

This project will document the fungal diversity of the Arboretum and compare results to inventories made by mycologist Henry Greene in the mid-20th century. Observations will be uploaded to Mushroom Observer, an open access fungi archive website.

Seedball Germination Study

Kelly Guilbeau, Milkweed Matters

Rolling seedballs filled with milkweed seed (the sole host plant for the Monarch butterfly) has become a common community engagement activity, though peer-reviewed literature on seedball success in habitat restoration is severely lacking. This project will evaluate how seedball size, number of seeds per ball, and vegetation height at time of planting affect germination of milkweed in open field habitats.

Christy Lowney surveys Abraham's Woods
Christy Lowney at Abraham’s Woods

Forest Succession in a Wisconsin Southern Mesic Forest: Abraham’s Woods State Natural Area

Christy Lowney and Brad Herrick, UW–Madison Arboretum

Fragmentation and succession are driving compositional shifts in remnant forests. This project will examine how species composition has shifted in Abraham’s Woods State Natural Area over 70 years by comparing data collected by Dr. John Curtis and the Plant Ecology Laboratory at the UW–Madison Botany Department during the 1940s to data from 2018.

Ecological Impact and Control of Asian Earthworms in Wisconsin’s Forests

Brad Herrick and Marie Johnston, UW–Madison Arboretum

Non-native, invasive earthworms of the genus Amynthas (jumping worms) were first confirmed in Wisconsin in 2013. Current research is studying the biology and potential ecological impacts of Amynthas species, including changes in plant composition and soil properties, sensitivity of cocoons and adults to heat and cold treatments, fertilizer as a possible control mechanism, and the overwintering requirements of A. tokioensis and A. agrestis.

Barberry Maleic Hydrazide

Mark Renz, Agronomy Department, UW–Madison

The objective of this study is to determine whether maleic hydrazide can inhibit unintentional propagation of the non-native invasive shrub Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii) by reducing seed production and/or seed viability and if application causes negative impacts to treated plants’ appearance.

Macro-Consequences of Micro-Organisms: Fungal Influences on Forest Responses to Changing Climates

Richard Lankau, Department of Plant Pathology, UW–Madison

Temperate forests are under increasing stress from rising temperatures and variable precipitation. Traditionally, it has been assumed that trees have two options to respond to climate change: range shifts through space or adaptation in place. Our research group is investigating a possible third option—can trees gain tolerance to novel climates by changing their associations with microbial partners in their roots?

The Role of Burn Seasonality, Fire Temperature, and Residence Time in Controlling Woody Invasive Plants

Tim Kuhman, Department of Biological Sciences, Edgewood College
Jed Meunier and Nathan Holoubek, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Yari Johnson, School of Agriculture, University of Wisconsin–Platteville
Brad Strobel, Necedah Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) is an exotic invasive species that degrades forest understories and edges in the Upper Midwest. Prescribed fire is often used to manage this species. In this study, we ask how burn season, fire temperature, and fire residence time influence stem damage and resprouting of common buckthorn.

Designing and Validating a Resilience-Based Site Assessment for Oak Savanna Restoration

Eric Chien, Conservation Sciences, University of Minnesota
Advisor: Susan Galatowitsch, Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota

Using Midwestern oak savannas as a model system, this research seeks to use ecological resilience theory to generate a pre-restoration site assessment framework capable of providing operational insight into a degraded ecosystem’s ability to recover. Diagnostic resolution and assessment accuracy will be validated using case histories and contemporary field data on restoration outcomes from fifty oak savanna restorations undertaken across the prairie-forest ecotone.

Skye Harnsberger at Oliver Prairie
Skye Harnsberger at Oliver Prairie

Monarch Butterfly Landscape Ecology

Skye Harnsberger, Department of Entomology, UW–Madison
Advisors: Claudio Gratton and Karen Oberhauser

The eastern population of monarch butterflies has plunged due to habitat loss along their migratory route. Sixty survey sites in Wisconsin were analyzed for milkweed patch size, percentage of grassland within 1 km, and monarch density. This research can be used to inform conservation practices regarding configurations and locations of new milkweed plantings within a landscape and give insight into the ways in which monarchs find and use patches of milkweed.