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Research in the Nature Preserve

Research possibilities for undergrads

Click Here if you are conducting or planning to do research in the Nature Preserve




Geology

Groundwater Tables

Dan Michaud, under the direction of Karen Salvage, measured the heights of groundwater tables across natural areas. A groundwater table is defined as the upper surface of zone of saturation for underground water or an irregular surface with slope or shape determined by quantity of groundwater and permeability of earth materials. Studies concerning groundwater tables in our natural areas are of the utmost importance because of shallow tables cause by increasing pressures on land resources caused by rising populations and the subsequent need of water table control.


Biology
Amphibian Studies

Binghamton University Nature Preserve supports numerous species of amphibians and provides an ecosystem for the spotted salamander and red-backed salamander. It follows then that most of the biological studies conducted in the nature preserve concern amphibians, especially salamanders and frogs. John Maerz, PhD and Aaron Sullivan,PhD, conducted their research on red-back salamanders, while Dale Madison PhD and the previous director of the Center for Integrated Watershed Studies, did research on the radiotracking of spotted salamanders. Victor Lamoureux,PhD, conducted his research on the wintering behavior of green frogs, and Jason Rohr, PhD, completed his thesis on newts in the Nature Preserve.
Though many independent studies for undergraduates are available on amphibian work, there are limitations in studying birds and mammals because of the large population and erratic behavior of the students at Binghamton University. Equipment tends to disappear and data is ruined because of human interference. Many people believe that studying birds such as blackbirds using harmless traps is a form of animal cruelty, and will often remove the traps before the researcher has a chance to collect any data.


Center for Integrated Watershed Studies

Watershed Studies

Natural ecosystems purify water and air, modify climate, reduce flooding, and provide natural products that are crucial to human existence, but few systems have been managed to sustain these benefits. Watersheds are functional units by which our interactions with the environment can be assessed, because the water that flows from a watershed is a measure of the health of that area. Understanding and managing smaller watershed units, such as streams, is a necessary precursor to managing larger units The newly created Center of the Integrated Watershed Studies here on the campus serves as a source of expertise on natural features of watersheds and human effects on watersheds. The SUNY-Binghamton campus, situated within the Fuller Hollow Creek watershed, provides an ideal setting for watershed and local scale research. The CIWS is using the Nature Preserve and natural areas as a teaching, training and research tool. Undergraduate and graduate students are performing field studies and Drs. Joe Graney and Karen Salvage are performing ongoing automated and manual data collection and analysis.

Again, Dr. Dale Madison is focusing on the radiotracking of salamanders because these creatures provide an important insect control mechanism and are an indicator of ecosystem health and surface water quality.


The Binghamton University Scholars Program

Management Model for the Nature Preserve [In Progress]

Project Team: Lindsey Krecko, Liz Phares, Ilana Price, Melissa Yanek, Sheri Zola.

This two semester project will develop a management model for the Binghamton University Nature Preserve. The project will develop in three stages over the Fall and Spring Semesters: Stage 1 consists of the development of a rationale for protecting the present nature preserve, extending its boundary to the Bunn Hill area of the campus and providing a stable management model; Stage 2 will provide an actual management model based on a careful survey of the how nature preserves are managed at Binghamton’s peer institutions; Stage 3 will involve the development a budget for the on-going management of the nature preserve.

This project centers on the need to develop data that will enable the design of a sound management model for the nature preserve. The goal is to institute a formal, long term plan for managing and developing our natural areas. This project, the first of its kind, has obvious far reaching implications for our campus, especially for the countless numbers of people who use our natural areas for academic study and hiking.

In order to develop a sound basis for a management model, research will be done on about 35 college and university campuses that have nature preserves similar to this one, including, but not limited to the following: Cornell, Ohio Wesleyan, Indiana State University, Goshen College Texas Tech University, University of Minnesota, Appalachia State, Sweet Briar College Western Connecticut State University, Connecticut College, Grinnell College, Williams College, Drew University, Rutgers University, Wright State University, Bucknell University, Cedar Crest College, Stanford University, Pacific University, Humboldt State University, Indiana University at Bloomington, SUNY Cortland, Gettysburg College, Northern Illinois University, Calvin College.

What will be taken into consideration will be the size of these existing college nature preserves, the different types of land the preserves include (wetlands, old growth forests, fields, etc) and what kinds of invasive species live within the boundaries of the preserves, what group or office oversees the management of the preserves, the cost of maintenance, sources of funding, and the methods of regulating and protecting the preserves. To find the answers to these questions, administrators and faculty at these campuses will be contacted by e-mail and telephone. Preserves –those close by— will be visited and their management structure will be viewed first hand. Using this information, a rationale for protecting Binghamton’s preserve will be developed and model for its on-going management will be designed.

The findings will be posted on a new Nature Preserve Website for the purpose of stimulating interest on campus and in the surrounding communities. The website for the Nature Preserve will be able to provide information for anyone interested in expanding their knowledge. They will be able to view maps and pictures, read about the different trails, and learn about the flora and fauna that populate each area of the Preserve. They will be able to obtain information on research (such as our current project and the projects of other students and professors), current events and past history. The goal is to provide all the possible information that anyone who is surfing the website would be interested in.