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ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE DEPARTMENT

 
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DAIZHA BAPTISTE 21

MAJOR: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSO LAUREN DICARLO, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

The Importance of Pollinator Gardens and Their Impact On Biodiversity

In the past 20 years, we have seen a significant decline in global biodiversity primarily due to habitat loss. Pollinators have endured dramatic declines and have caused reasonable concern in the scientific and agricultural fields. Due to the essential roles that pollinators play within functioning ecosystems, researchers have encouraged community gardens that promote pollinator habitat. To promote pollinator habitat in Westfield, Massachusetts, we developed plans for a community pollinator garden on Westfield State University’s campus to better understand plant-pollinator relationships and promote biodiverse habitat that provides both nesting sites and forage to increase pollinator abundance. After planting a variety of flowering plants and grasses within this plot, we will compare the success of the pollinator plantings and pollinator activity with a prior planted site located at the Horace Mann Center on campus. Our research will highlight which plant species and planting methods are most beneficial and successful following observed pollinator responses; providing data which is still unknown for the area. Additionally, we will create informational resources for the community and Westfield State students to use in the interest of pollinator conservation, garden expansion, and the possible incorporation of edible plants that also serve as pollinator forage. This project serves to identify the key habitat that benefits pollinators and raises awareness to the importance of biodiverse habitat for pollinator species.

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OLIVIA FOOTIT '21

MAJOR: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR LAUREN DICARLO, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

The Importance of Pollinator Gardens and Their Impact On Biodiversity

In the past 20 years, we have seen a significant decline in global biodiversity primarily due to habitat loss. Pollinators have endured dramatic declines and have caused reasonable concern in the scientific and agricultural fields. Due to the essential roles that pollinators play within functioning ecosystems, researchers have encouraged community gardens that promote pollinator habitat. To promote pollinator habitat in Westfield, Massachusetts, we developed plans for a community pollinator garden on Westfield State University’s campus to better understand plant-pollinator relationships and promote biodiverse habitat that provides both nesting sites and forage to increase pollinator abundance. After planting a variety of flowering plants and grasses within this plot, we will compare the success of the pollinator plantings and pollinator activity with a prior planted site located at the Horace Mann Center on campus. Our research will highlight which plant species and planting methods are most beneficial and successful following observed pollinator responses; providing data which is still unknown for the area. Additionally, we will create informational resources for the community and Westfield State students to use in the interest of pollinator conservation, garden expansion, and the possible incorporation of edible plants that also serve as pollinator forage. This project serves to identify the key habitat that benefits pollinators and raises awareness to the importance of biodiverse habitat for pollinator species.

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KEVIN BOUCK '21

MAJOR: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR TIMOTHY PARSHALL, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

Analysis of Salinity Concentration and the Per Capita Income of Hampden County Municipalities

Salts are extremely important compounds used in the facilitation of life for a variety of essential functions, but excessive accumulation can result in severe damage in humans and other lifeforms. Salinity might differ between different streams for a variety of reasons, including excessive saline water irrigation, usage of mineral fertilizers, poor soil sustainable practices, road salt usage, or simply differing geography. Studying a wide range of municipalities in Hampden County, Massachusetts, we investigated how the average per capita income of a town may influence a municipality’s salinity concentration. We predicted that higher per capita income would be positively correlated to salinity in streams. Using data collected by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, we determine the county average income per capita and separated the towns into “poor” or “rich” towns depending on if they were lower or higher than the average. We chose streams from nine municipalities to measure salinity, DO, and pH using a Hydrolab Quanta-D. Regression analyses indicate that there are no statistically significant relationships between salinity and per capita income as well as no statistically significant relationships between salinity and overall municipal revenue. pH regressions showed no correlation between per capita or municipal revenue, but DO regression showed positive relationship with municipal revenue. Overall municipal revenue had the highest significance (p = 0.21) with salinity and a negative trend, but was still above the threshold of p < 0.05.

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BRANDON TURCOTTE '21

MAJOR: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR TIMOTHY PARSHALL, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

Analysis of Salinity Concentration and the Per Capita Income of Hampden County Municipalities

Salts are extremely important compounds used in the facilitation of life for a variety of essential functions, but excessive accumulation can result in severe damage in humans and other lifeforms. Salinity might differ between different streams for a variety of reasons, including excessive saline water irrigation, usage of mineral fertilizers, poor soil sustainable practices, road salt usage, or simply differing geography. Studying a wide range of municipalities in Hampden County, Massachusetts, we investigated how the average per capita income of a town may influence a municipality’s salinity concentration. We predicted that higher per capita income would be positively correlated to salinity in streams. Using data collected by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, we determine the county average income per capita and separated the towns into “poor” or “rich” towns depending on if they were lower or higher than the average. We chose streams from nine municipalities to measure salinity, DO, and pH using a Hydrolab Quanta-D. Regression analyses indicate that there are no statistically significant relationships between salinity and per capita income as well as no statistically significant relationships between salinity and overall municipal revenue. pH regressions showed no correlation between per capita or municipal revenue, but DO regression showed positive relationship with municipal revenue. Overall municipal revenue had the highest significance (p = 0.21) with salinity and a negative trend, but was still above the threshold of p < 0.05.

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CODY CABRAL '21

MAJOR: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR TIMOTHY PARSHALL, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

Effects of Removing Invasive Shrubs on Microclimate and Tick Populations

Non-native plants are altering the characteristics of ecosystems in New England. These invasive species are notorious for outcompeting native species by growing quickly and in an uncontrollable fashion, creating dense invasive thickets. Our study investigates the impact that forest management has on tick populations. It is known that ticks tend to thrive in climates with higher humidity, which can be the result of dense shrub thickets. The dense understory structure created by nonnative plants can increase humidity and protection from extreme temperatures, thereby creating a more favorable microclimate for ticks. Microclimate characteristics may explain why prior studies have found a positive relationship between the amount of ticks and invasive thickets. We hypothesize that the removal of invasive shrubs will support fewer ticks than where invasive shrub thickets have not been removed due to the changes in microclimate. The experimental forest was broken up into several treatments: native forest (reference/control), unmanaged forest (primarily invasive plant species honeysuckle and privet), and managed forest ( primarily invasive shrubs removed within the past two years). Over the course of five weeks (March through April) the microclimate was measured within these plots by recording air temperature, soil temperature and air humidity, as well as sunlight levels within each plot. We also quantified tick populations through the flagging method. Trends that were identified from data analysis early on indicate that the managed and unmanaged treatment show a clear difference in micro-climate characteristics as well as tick abundance. Of the three treatments, the managed treatment has yielded the highest number of ticks from flagging methods.

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GARRETT PELTIER '21

MAJOR: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR TIMOTHY PARSHALL, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

Effects of Removing Invasive Shrubs on Microclimate and Tick Populations

Non-native plants are altering the characteristics of ecosystems in New England. These invasive species are notorious for outcompeting native species by growing quickly and in an uncontrollable fashion, creating dense invasive thickets. Our study investigates the impact that forest management has on tick populations. It is known that ticks tend to thrive in climates with higher humidity, which can be the result of dense shrub thickets. The dense understory structure created by nonnative plants can increase humidity and protection from extreme temperatures, thereby creating a more favorable microclimate for ticks. Microclimate characteristics may explain why prior studies have found a positive relationship between the amount of ticks and invasive thickets. We hypothesize that the removal of invasive shrubs will support fewer ticks than where invasive shrub thickets have not been removed due to the changes in microclimate. The experimental forest was broken up into several treatments: native forest (reference/control), unmanaged forest (primarily invasive plant species honeysuckle and privet), and managed forest ( primarily invasive shrubs removed within the past two years). Over the course of five weeks (March through April) the microclimate was measured within these plots by recording air temperature, soil temperature and air humidity, as well as sunlight levels within each plot. We also quantified tick populations through the flagging method. Trends that were identified from data analysis early on indicate that the managed and unmanaged treatment show a clear difference in micro-climate characteristics as well as tick abundance. Of the three treatments, the managed treatment has yielded the highest number of ticks from flagging methods.

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DEAN CONRAD '21

MAJOR: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR LAUREN DICARLO, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

Long-term Ecological Restoration Project: Invasive Burning Buch Removal on Westfield State University's Campus

In western Massachusetts, invasive vegetation is negatively influencing floodplain forests and the surrounding watersheds. Invasive plants may outcompete native plants, damage wildlife habitat, and degrade soil and water quality. The forest understory along the Westfield River on Westfield State University’s campus has many invasive species, with winged burning bush (Euonymus alatus) being the dominant understory plant. Winged burning bush is a very successful invasive, having the ability to systematically root and produce high quantities of seeds during the growing season. While winged burning bush is a dominant invasive species in the area, little is known of the best methods to remove or control it. Our primary goal is to determine the most effective methods to remove the species to restore the native floodplain vegetation. Using plots, five different treatments will be tested: control (no removal), cutting, cutting with herbicide, root removal, and root removal with herbicide. These plots will be monitored over a five-year period to measure the success of each removal method along the river and subsequent establishment of native understory species.

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JASON JAKUBASZ '21

MAJOR: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR LAUREN DICARLO, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

Long-term Ecological Restoration Project: Invasive Burning Buch Removal on Westfield State University's Campus

In western Massachusetts, invasive vegetation is negatively influencing floodplain forests and the surrounding watersheds. Invasive plants may outcompete native plants, damage wildlife habitat, and degrade soil and water quality. The forest understory along the Westfield River on Westfield State University’s campus has many invasive species, with winged burning bush (Euonymus alatus) being the dominant understory plant. Winged burning bush is a very successful invasive, having the ability to systematically root and produce high quantities of seeds during the growing season. While winged burning bush is a dominant invasive species in the area, little is known of the best methods to remove or control it. Our primary goal is to determine the most effective methods to remove the species to restore the native floodplain vegetation. Using plots, five different treatments will be tested: control (no removal), cutting, cutting with herbicide, root removal, and root removal with herbicide. These plots will be monitored over a five-year period to measure the success of each removal method along the river and subsequent establishment of native understory species.

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RYAN JUDD '21

MAJOR: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR LAUREN DICARLO, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

Long-term Ecological Restoration Project: Invasive Burning Buch Removal on Westfield State University's Campus

In western Massachusetts, invasive vegetation is negatively influencing floodplain forests and the surrounding watersheds. Invasive plants may outcompete native plants, damage wildlife habitat, and degrade soil and water quality. The forest understory along the Westfield River on Westfield State University’s campus has many invasive species, with winged burning bush (Euonymus alatus) being the dominant understory plant. Winged burning bush is a very successful invasive, having the ability to systematically root and produce high quantities of seeds during the growing season. While winged burning bush is a dominant invasive species in the area, little is known of the best methods to remove or control it. Our primary goal is to determine the most effective methods to remove the species to restore the native floodplain vegetation. Using plots, five different treatments will be tested: control (no removal), cutting, cutting with herbicide, root removal, and root removal with herbicide. These plots will be monitored over a five-year period to measure the success of each removal method along the river and subsequent establishment of native understory species.

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PAUL SOUCY '21

MAJOR: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR LAUREN DICARLO, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

Long-term Ecological Restoration Project: Invasive Burning Buch Removal on Westfield State University's Campus

In western Massachusetts, invasive vegetation is negatively influencing floodplain forests and the surrounding watersheds. Invasive plants may outcompete native plants, damage wildlife habitat, and degrade soil and water quality. The forest understory along the Westfield River on Westfield State University’s campus has many invasive species, with winged burning bush (Euonymus alatus) being the dominant understory plant. Winged burning bush is a very successful invasive, having the ability to systematically root and produce high quantities of seeds during the growing season. While winged burning bush is a dominant invasive species in the area, little is known of the best methods to remove or control it. Our primary goal is to determine the most effective methods to remove the species to restore the native floodplain vegetation. Using plots, five different treatments will be tested: control (no removal), cutting, cutting with herbicide, root removal, and root removal with herbicide. These plots will be monitored over a five-year period to measure the success of each removal method along the river and subsequent establishment of native understory species.

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ISAAC VOLTOLINE '21

MAJOR: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR LAUREN DICARLO, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

Long-term Ecological Restoration Project: Invasive Burning Buch Removal on Westfield State University's Campus

In western Massachusetts, invasive vegetation is negatively influencing floodplain forests and the surrounding watersheds. Invasive plants may outcompete native plants, damage wildlife habitat, and degrade soil and water quality. The forest understory along the Westfield River on Westfield State University’s campus has many invasive species, with winged burning bush (Euonymus alatus) being the dominant understory plant. Winged burning bush is a very successful invasive, having the ability to systematically root and produce high quantities of seeds during the growing season. While winged burning bush is a dominant invasive species in the area, little is known of the best methods to remove or control it. Our primary goal is to determine the most effective methods to remove the species to restore the native floodplain vegetation. Using plots, five different treatments will be tested: control (no removal), cutting, cutting with herbicide, root removal, and root removal with herbicide. These plots will be monitored over a five-year period to measure the success of each removal method along the river and subsequent establishment of native understory species.

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EMMA COWHEY '22

MAJOR: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR TIMOTHY PARSHALL, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

Effects of Urbanization on Aquatic Organisms

The land use surrounding aquatic environments can influence water quality. Chemicals and other pollutants that have not killed aquatic organisms directly, often result in reduced populations. In this study we investigated the effect of urbanization on pH and dissolved oxygen in rivers in two regions: Western and Eastern Massachusetts. For each region, we selected three rivers with high levels of urbanization and three rivers with low levels of urbanization. We also sampled organisms to document differences in species diversity affected by urbanization. Each week, we set up baited fish traps on Saturday and returned Monday to pick them up. We hypothesized that urban sites were more likely to have small populations of aquatic environments due to higher levels of pollutants and chemicals than those of less urbanized locations. The average pH of rivers from urban sites was 5.93 compared to an average of 5.65 at the non-urban sites. We also recorded an average of 82.5% for dissolved oxygen in urban rivers compared to an average of 83.63% at the un-urban sites. Overall, we caught very few organisms at all locations. These results do not support our hypothesis that urbanization has an effect on pH, DO, or organisms in the rivers. The cool, spring conditions may not have been ideal for sampling organisms because of lower activity levels.

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HUNTER LAROCHELLE '21

MAJOR: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR TIMOTHY PARSHALL, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

Effects of Urbanization on Aquatic Organisms

The land use surrounding aquatic environments can influence water quality. Chemicals and other pollutants that have not killed aquatic organisms directly, often result in reduced populations. In this study we investigated the effect of urbanization on pH and dissolved oxygen in rivers in two regions: Western and Eastern Massachusetts. For each region, we selected three rivers with high levels of urbanization and three rivers with low levels of urbanization. We also sampled organisms to document differences in species diversity affected by urbanization. Each week, we set up baited fish traps on Saturday and returned Monday to pick them up. We hypothesized that urban sites were more likely to have small populations of aquatic environments due to higher levels of pollutants and chemicals than those of less urbanized locations. The average pH of rivers from urban sites was 5.93 compared to an average of 5.65 at the non-urban sites. We also recorded an average of 82.5% for dissolved oxygen in urban rivers compared to an average of 83.63% at the un-urban sites. Overall, we caught very few organisms at all locations. These results do not support our hypothesis that urbanization has an effect on pH, DO, or organisms in the rivers. The cool, spring conditions may not have been ideal for sampling organisms because of lower activity levels.

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 RYLIE GUTHRIE '21

MAJOR: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR TIMOTHY PARSHALL, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

Does removing Oriental bittersweet affect tree growth?

Invasive, non-native species can substantially influence an ecosystem, affecting overall biodiversity especially the abundance of native species. Many invasive species possess an adaptation that allows it to grow and outrank other species present, such as our focus for this project, Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus). Our project follows up on previous studies done from 2013-2016 in the experimental forest behind Westfield State University where students and faculty treated the spread of bittersweet growing on trees. The main goal of this project was to examine tree cores and assess tree ring width from a portion of the recently treated trees. We also wanted to evaluate the health and growth of trees after the removal. We collected tree cores using an increment borer, which can determine age, and the previous and current effects of the bittersweet. We took a total of 14 cores from various maple, red oak, cottonwood, and American elm trees. Once the cores were glued down they were measured by the distance between each ring for each growing season. The measurements between each tree ring showed a noticeable difference between each growing season throughout the decades. In the years following the bittersweet removal, the variation in the tree-ring width had decreased. We can speculate bittersweet roots are still inhabiting underneath the experimental trees which are stealing the nutrients necessary to grow. Data between the years 2010-2014 shows that there was no significant effect on the tree sample’s growth pattern.

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TAYLOR KAUPP '21

MAJOR: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR TIMOTHY PARSHALL, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

Does removing Oriental bittersweet affect tree growth?

Invasive, non-native species can substantially influence an ecosystem, affecting overall biodiversity especially the abundance of native species. Many invasive species possess an adaptation that allows it to grow and outrank other species present, such as our focus for this project, Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus). Our project follows up on previous studies done from 2013-2016 in the experimental forest behind Westfield State University where students and faculty treated the spread of bittersweet growing on trees. The main goal of this project was to examine tree cores and assess tree ring width from a portion of the recently treated trees. We also wanted to evaluate the health and growth of trees after the removal. We collected tree cores using an increment borer, which can determine age, and the previous and current effects of the bittersweet. We took a total of 14 cores from various maple, red oak, cottonwood, and American elm trees. Once the cores were glued down they were measured by the distance between each ring for each growing season. The measurements between each tree ring showed a noticeable difference between each growing season throughout the decades. In the years following the bittersweet removal, the variation in the tree-ring width had decreased. We can speculate bittersweet roots are still inhabiting underneath the experimental trees which are stealing the nutrients necessary to grow. Data between the years 2010-2014 shows that there was no significant effect on the tree sample’s growth pattern.

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HANNAH LEBEAU '21

MAJOR: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR TIMOTHY PARSHALL, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

Comparison of presence of the Elongate Hemlock Scale and Hemlock Wooly Adelgid in Central and Western Massachusetts

The eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is an important species that is present in northeastern forests because it provides habitat for numerous native species and has an important role in the structure and function of forests. However, its future is being threatened by two invasive insect species: the hemlock wooly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) and the elongate hemlock scale (Fiorinia externa). Both species feed on the sap created by hemlock trees through photosynthesis, leading to needle loss and eventually the tree dies from the insects themselves or being weaker to stressors such as drought or windstorms. In our capstone research project, we examined hemlock trees in towns throughout central and western Massachusetts of varying elevations to determine the impact of average annual temperature on the survival of these invasive insect species. Since both species of insects are killed by extreme cold, we predicted that there would be fewer insects and healthier trees at higher elevations.We observed 30-40 hemlock trees per site along 100m-long transects and recorded insect species abundance into the following categories: not sighted (N.S.), low, mild, and high. Needle coverage on the hemlocks were also categorized as: 0-25%, 25-50%, 50-75%, 75-100%, which was also used as an indication of overall tree health. We found a statistically significant, positive relationship between elevation and low and mild abundance of both species, which means that as elevation increases low or mild abundances increase as well. However, there is not a significant relationship between elevation and high abundance of either insect.

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NATASHA NEVUE '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY/ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR TIMOTHY PARSHALL, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

Comparison of presence of the Elongate Hemlock Scale and Hemlock Wooly Adelgid in Central and Western Massachusetts

The eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is an important species that is present in northeastern forests because it provides habitat for numerous native species and has an important role in the structure and function of forests. However, its future is being threatened by two invasive insect species: the hemlock wooly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) and the elongate hemlock scale (Fiorinia externa). Both species feed on the sap created by hemlock trees through photosynthesis, leading to needle loss and eventually the tree dies from the insects themselves or being weaker to stressors such as drought or windstorms. In our capstone research project, we examined hemlock trees in towns throughout central and western Massachusetts of varying elevations to determine the impact of average annual temperature on the survival of these invasive insect species. Since both species of insects are killed by extreme cold, we predicted that there would be fewer insects and healthier trees at higher elevations.We observed 30-40 hemlock trees per site along 100m-long transects and recorded insect species abundance into the following categories: not sighted (N.S.), low, mild, and high. Needle coverage on the hemlocks were also categorized as: 0-25%, 25-50%, 50-75%, 75-100%, which was also used as an indication of overall tree health. We found a statistically significant, positive relationship between elevation and low and mild abundance of both species, which means that as elevation increases low or mild abundances increase as well. However, there is not a significant relationship between elevation and high abundance of either insect.

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PAIGE PRESSEY '21

MAJOR: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR TIM PARSHALL, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE 

The Influence of Land Use History on Current Abundance of Invasive Species in Forests

Land use history influences the composition of current forests dramatically. As regulations in Massachusetts related to protecting rivers have changed, land use in the early 1970s along rivers transitioned away from agriculture and toward forests. The succession of these forested areas over the past 50 years may be different from forests that were already established at the same time. I hypothesized that there is a greater abundance of invasive plant species in forests that were being used for agriculture than those already forested. This hypothesis was based on the ability of invasive species to outcompete native species when there are disturbances in the ecosystems and high levels of resources such as light and nutrients. I also predicted that native, early-successional trees would be more abundant at recent agricultural sites due to the shorter amount of time that these forests had for succession. At four sites in the Connecticut River Watershed, I surveyed current forests with two different land use histories, those that had been agriculture in 1970 and those that were forested. I measured the distribution and abundance of native and invasive plants in transects 60m long and 2m wide. Both hypotheses were supported by the data from the sites surveyed in the study. Current forests that had been used for agriculture in 1970 had much greater abundance of invasive plants (about 36% compared to about 20%), and more native, early-successional trees.

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JOHN RENZONI '22

MAJOR: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR TIMOTHY PARSHALL, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

Amphibian Activity in Relation to Temperature Change

Temperature is related to amphibian activity, in terms of both emergence and timing of metamorphosis. The purpose of this study was to see at what temperatures amphibian activity would begin at two different sites in Massachusetts: Southwick, located in Western Massachusetts, and Uxbridge, located in Central Massachusetts. Hobo temperature loggers were set at each site to record water temperature of the vernal pools as well as air temperature. Camera traps were used at Uxbridge and pitfall traps at Southwick to document amphibian activity. The hypothesis was that there would be amphibian activity earlier in Western Massachusetts than Central Massachusetts due to its slightly warmer average spring temperatures. The pitfall traps and camera traps did not capture any amphibians, however visual observations at both sites showed that the amphibians may have emerged on the same weekend. At both locations wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) and spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) were seen, while American toads (Anaxyrus americanus) and spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) were only seen at Southwick. Observations showed that the Uxbridge site had a higher abundance of wood frogs while the Southwick site had higher abundance of American toads. Spring peepers in most instances were heard, not seen. We suggest that the intensity of the winter snow and ice coverage this year could have had an effect on initial amphibian activity compared to other years.

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ALYSSA SMITH '21

MAJOR: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR TIMOTHY PARSHALL, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

Amphibian Activity in Relation to Temperature Change

Temperature is related to amphibian activity, in terms of both emergence and timing of metamorphosis. The purpose of this study was to see at what temperatures amphibian activity would begin at two different sites in Massachusetts: Southwick, located in Western Massachusetts, and Uxbridge, located in Central Massachusetts. Hobo temperature loggers were set at each site to record water temperature of the vernal pools as well as air temperature. Camera traps were used at Uxbridge and pitfall traps at Southwick to document amphibian activity. The hypothesis was that there would be amphibian activity earlier in Western Massachusetts than Central Massachusetts due to its slightly warmer average spring temperatures. The pitfall traps and camera traps did not capture any amphibians, however visual observations at both sites showed that the amphibians may have emerged on the same weekend. At both locations wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) and spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) were seen, while American toads (Anaxyrus americanus) and spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) were only seen at Southwick. Observations showed that the Uxbridge site had a higher abundance of wood frogs while the Southwick site had higher abundance of American toads. Spring peepers in most instances were heard, not seen. We suggest that the intensity of the winter snow and ice coverage this year could have had an effect on initial amphibian activity compared to other years.

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MICHAEL VIRGILIO '21

MAJOR: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR TIM PARSHALL, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE 

Forestry Project Monitoring at Alford Springs Nature Preserve.

In 2016 a timber harvest of approximately 25 acres was conducted in the Alford Springs property belonging to Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC) in consultation with Mass Wildlife biologists and foresters. The goal of the harvest was to encourage high quality timber, as well as the addition of early successional habitat that supports wildlife. The focus of this project is to evaluate the success of the forestry project in following the management plan. After the forestry cutting, there has been concern from trail users as to why the cut happened and what the property will look like in the future. BNRC hopes to use this information to eventually install an educational interpretive sign on the trail that will engage recreational users with the significance of the property management. I collected data using vegetation plot samples within the cut area as well as the forest around the outside perimeter of the cut. Analysis of the shrubs and saplings vegetative layer shows that the succession within the cut area has introduced a diversity of vegetation that provides cover and browse for wildlife. For example, birch saplings (Betula sp.) and blackberry shrubs (Rubus sp.) are much more common in the cut area than in the reference forest. Removing the canopy has caused the abundance of the preferred timber species of red oak to increase in the sapling layer of the cut area, which will likely lead to a future forest with greater abundance of red oak than the surrounding forested area.