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2018 Project Proposal

Consequences of Deer Overabundance and Invasive Species on Forest Community Structure and Diversity*

Keri vanCamp (Vassar Farm and Ecological Preserve)

In our region, natural areas face multiple stressors that influence the resiliency of the forested communities.  This project will examine the impact that overabundant deer and invasive species are having on forests.  Both overabundant deer and invasive species have been shown to negatively impact biodiversity, cause changes in species composition, and alter the structure of the forest.  We will resurvey the vegetation in long term deer exclosures at the Vassar Ecological Preserve and other sites in the EMMA network.   We will also resurvey plots that were established prior to the invasion of the emerald ash borer, an invasive beetle that was first documented on the preserve in 2017.  The emerald ash borer will result in the loss of all ash trees on the preserve and the subsequent disturbance will create a major shift in forest dynamics. We will work to link the findings of these studies to the management of the ecological preserve. This position will work closely with the URSI student that is working on “Deer Abundance Impacts on Forest Community Structure and Nutrient Dynamics Along an Urban to Rural Gradient”.  They will also assist with fieldwork for other projects on the Vassar Ecological Preserve.  

Prerequisites:  An interest in land management, field botany, and conservation is essential.  Classes such as Ecology, Plant Diversity, Introductory Biology, and/or Conservation Biology would be helpful.  Applicants should have plant identification skills and be able to use a dichotomous key.  The successful candidate must enjoy working outdoors, have good organizational skills, and be capable of working in adverse conditions.  Experience working with GIS/GPS and conducting research are preferred.    

How shoulds students express their interest in this project?  Students that are interested in this project should email me to introduce themselves and express why this project is of interest to them.