Dr. Anahí Espíndola, University of Maryland, College Park
Within the general goal of integrating ecological/evolutionary data to inform the conservation of native North American Rhododendron, this proposal will investigate the reproductive biology of several Maryland species. This will be used to predict their ecoevolutionary trajectories and conservation needs in the context of climate change.
Susan McIntyre, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (Illinois Natural History Survey)
I will investigate seed germination for milkwort (Polygala) species that are of conservation concern due to habitat loss in parts of their range and lack of success in restorations. I will test whether application of different germination treatments (e.g., cold stratification, heat, smoke) and certain soil mixes improve germination.
Dr. Lorena Torres-Martínez, St Mary’s College of Maryland
Physiological stresses imposed by extreme climate conditions will weaken plant defenses, potentially leading to higher infection rates of pathogenic soil microbes, and disruption of mutualistic interactions. We will evaluate whether plant species already adapted to stressful climate regimes such as coastal wetland trees will experience these shifts in plant-microbe interactions
Dr. Abigail Kula, Mount St. Mary’s University
Common milkweed is important to monarch butterfly populations. Understanding the impacts of land management on milkweed will inform future management and conservation strategies. Root microbial communities are essential for plants, but we know little about the milkweed root microbiome and its response to changing environmental conditions, including land management application.
Sara Kramer – Graduate Student - Towson University
Urbanization increases the amount of impervious surface in watersheds, causing faster runoff into the stream and resulting in stream channel entrenchment. Thus, the floodplain is inundated less frequently, decreasing hydrochory (seed dispersal via water) which will reduce reestablishment by native vegetation. The effect of stream restoration on hydrochory and native plant colonization will be evaluated.
Jeffrey Lombardo – Faculty - St. Mary’s College of Maryland
Climate change related increases in growing season temperature has been predicted to differentially influence fitness of invasive vs. native plants. For many important invasive plant species, the magnitude of these effects are unknown. Here, we quantify important fitness components of the invasive grass Microstegium vimineum under different experimental warming treatments.
Monica Marcelli – Graduate Student - George Mason University
Pollinators are important for plant reproduction and evolution. Many of Maryland’s native orchids have unknown pollinators or pollinators known from very limited sites. We will use daylight and night (infrared) motion-triggered cameras to determine how orchid pollinators differ among sites in Maryland and identify pollinators for orchids without known pollinators.
Eranga Wettewa – Smithsonian Postdoctoral Fellow - Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Among types of mycorrhizae, the orchid mycorrhizal association (OMA) is one of the least studied. I will utilize genome and transcriptome data to characterize signaling molecules involved in OMA for five Maryland orchids. This work will enhance understanding of OMA and facilitate restoration of native orchids and their mycorrhizal associates.
Madeline Potter – Graduate Student - University of Maryland, College Park
Citizen Scientist volunteers across Maryland will aid in identifying native trees and shrubs that support the greatest abundance and diversity of egg parasitic wasps. Results will allow recommendations of native plants that enhance the biological control of pests, reducing pest outbreaks in managed systems using sustainable practices.
Eric Crandell, Undergraduate, University of Maryland, College Park
Abstract: We hope that a grant of $1112.33 will assist us in the completion of research on the pollination network of the rare and protected Maryland Serpentine Grasslands. It is believed that deeper knowledge of this habitat’s ecological mechanisms would be pivotal in informing conservation efforts for the habitat and some of its endemic species.
Margaret Christie, Faculty, McDaniel University
Abstract: In the 18th century, Maryland was deforested for agriculture and dams were built to power mills, converting wetlands into deep-channeled streams. Restoration of wetlands allows them to perform ecosystem services and provides habitat for native plants. I will restore two wetland ecosystems in Carroll County to its pre-settlement extent.
Smriti Pehim Limbu, Graduate Student, Johns Hopkins University
Abstract: Elevated CO2 and drought predicted with climate change are likely to affect plant growth, and survival. We propose to assess the photosynthetic rate and biomass of two C4 grass under elevated CO2 and drought stress to shed a light on the fate of these grasses under the changing climate.
Kerrie Sendall, Assistant Professor, Rider University
Abstract: Salt marsh ecosystems are some of the most vulnerable to climate change, with sea level rise- and temperature-induced marsh dieback occurring worldwide. Thus, it is critical to determine which marsh plant species are most resilient to climate change stressors, which will be useful to land managers involved in restoration projects.
Amy Gage, graduate student, Rutgers University.
Abstract: I will plant Parthenocissus quinquefolia vines sourced from a variety of habitats into test plots on coastal sand dunes. This experiment will determine if P. quinquefolia vines should be included in coastal restoration plantings. It may also result in the discovery of rare coastal P. quinquefolia ecotypes.
Ida Hartvig, Smithsonian Postdoctoral Fellow, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Abstract: The ecology and evolution of orchids are effected by their obligate dependency of specific fungi for germination. This project investigates the evolutionary patterns of fungal use in native species in the orchid genus Platanthera and will improve our understanding of orchid biology of benefit to conservation of Maryland orchids.
Benton Taylor, Smithsonian Postdoctoral Fellow, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Abstract: Maryland’s nitrogen-fixing plants and their bacterial symbionts can dramatically alter the fertility of the surrounding ecosystem, but what drives nitrogen fixation rates in these plants is poorly understood. This project will investigate whether the diversity or identity of nitrogen fixers’ bacterial symbionts determines the amount of nitrogen these plant bring into Maryland’s ecosystems.
Samantha Worthy, graduate student, University of Maryland
Abstract: Fagus grandifolia, a staple tree in Maryland forest, is threatened by Beech bark disease (BBD). The conferring defense gene against BBD has been identified, but not assayed broadly in natural populations. Here, I quantify defense gene genotypes across ontogeny to understand the impact of BBD on Maryland forests.
Eric Yee, graduate student, Johns Hopkins University
Abstract: Industrialization has caused heavy metal contamination in cities like Baltimore, MD, which is highly toxic to most organisms. Introduced plantain species (Plantago spp.) hyperaccumulate heavy metals like lead in their tissues. Morphological, reproductive, and genetic trade-offs from hyperaccumulation could have allowed them to outcompete native plantains in cities.
Lyntana Brougham, graduate student at Southern Georgia University.
Abstract: We aim to quantify the effects of experimental warming and elevated CO2 concentrations on the physiology of two communities of native, salt marsh plants in Edgewater, MD. We expect our results to illuminate how the function and growth of these important species will change in the future.
Karin Burghardt, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow at Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.
Abstract: Maryland's forests are increasingly fragmented and altered by human development. Here, I aim to determine if changes in the way that managers plant native host trees (single species vs diverse assemblages) could be used to maximize the support of butterfly and moth diversity within such landscapes.
Eric Griffin, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow at Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Abstract: I propose to use an experimental manipulation of native tree diversity in Maryland to determine how leaf bacteria and chemistry mediate the relationship between tree diversity and plant productivity. Results from this ongoing project will provide a general framework for understanding how decreases in plant diversity will influence forest health.
Kathryn M. Jones and Andrew P. Landsman
Abstract: Herbivores are closely tied to the native plants they depend on for food and habitat. Exotic plants are documented throughout Maryland’s forests and have been shown to negatively affect insect herbivore communities. This project will fund a student to examine the importance of native plants to local herbivorous insect taxa.
Martina G. Mateu, graduate student University of MD College Park
Abstract: We propose to study the effects of fungal endophytes on salinity tolerance of native and invasive Phragmites australis. Our goal is to identify possible mutualists that could improve the tolerance of the native lineage to higher salinities, and assess the role of these endophytes in the spread of invasive Phragmites.
Margaret Park, graduate student, Towson University
Abstract: Japanese silvergrass (Miscanthus sinensis) has started to escape from ornamental gardens into natural areas in the mid-Atlantic region. Part one of my research concerns the impacts this species is having on surrounding native plant populations. Part two is concerned with whether this species is increasing soil nitrogen concentrations, due to associations with novel nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
Kathy Thornton and Sylvan Kaufman, Adkins Arboretum
Abstract: Adkins Arboretum contains a wide diversity of Coastal Plain plant communities. Understanding how communities change over time by comparing surveys of plant species informs land management decisions. The survey data will be available and useful to other researchers and to the public.
Eric Griffin PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.
Abstract: I propose to simultaneously evaluate how tree diversity and herbivore damage are related to leaf microbial endophyte communities among native trees in a Maryland forest. This project will provide new evidence and insight into the importance of native biodiversity and the roles of microbes in critical ecosystem processes.
Andrew P Landsman, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Delaware.
Abstract: Japanese stiltgrass and other invasive plants often outcompete and smother native herbaceous species. Despite invasive plant prevalence in Maryland’s forest patches, research on native herbaceous species response and impacts to invertebrates is scarce. This project aims to continue my objective of highlighting the importance of native plants to ecological health.
David Grow, MS Student, Towson University
Abstract: Land owners in Maryland have documented Beebee tree (Tetradium daniellii) as a recently emerging invasive non-native tree. I will research how Beebee tree is impacting the native plant diversity of Maryland. My investigation will answer questions which may prioritize management of the species before its invasion intensifies.
Rachel Coffey, Cecil County Public Schools
Abstract: This project investigates to what extent is biodiversity affected by non-native invasive plant species in a storm water retention pond ecosystem. This project assesses biodiversity in our storm water retention pond before and after removal of non-native invasive species and planting of native species.
Adam B Mitchell, PhD student, University of Delaware
Abstract: Non-native plant species reduce biodiversity at a global scale, and predicting how non-native plants change the availability of habitat for organisms may provide insight into restoring biodiversity in native landscapes. I seek to investigate how non-native plants alter food webs based on their relationships with native plants and insect communities.
Christopher Hoess, Delaware Technical Community College
Abstract: The Adiantum pedatum complex (northern maidenhair ferns) are difficult to distinguish, and have been misidentified in Maryland. By sampling these ferns from a variety of habitats and analyzing the soil they grow in, we can be certain which species grow in Maryland and better understand which habitats can support them.
Abstract: Wavyleaf basketgrass (Oplismenus undulatifolius), a perennial invasive grass, is now a serious threat to woodlands in Maryland. This project will determine if hand-pulling by volunteers is an effective way to control a new (sparse cover) invasion and if simultaneously controlling other invasive species (Japanese stiltgrass and multiflora rose) decreases wavyleaf reinvasion and increases the success of planted native species.
Eric VanSlyke, Allegany County Public Schools
Abstract: We will interplant one grove of Hybridized American Chestnut trees with native trees and grasses. At the same time, we will interplant another grove of Hybridized American Chestnut trees with nonnative trees and grasses. We will measure the height of each tree before interplanting, and after a 2-year growth period to compare the impact of the native companions against the nonnative companion plants.
Lauren Hull, Graduate Student in Applied Ecology & Conservation Biology Sunshine L. Brosi, PhD, Associate Professor of Biology
Abstract: State imperiled mountain bugbane (Actaea podocarpa DC, Ranunculaceae) is threatened by ecological and anthropogenic pressures. We propose a dual approach to aid in A. podocarpa preservation through population analysis and development of outreach materials. Population analysis will establish the current status of A. podocarpa and document impacts of dying hemlocks. Outreach materials aim to reduce unintentional harvest.
Andrew P. Landsman
Abstract: White-tailed deer and invasive plants significantly alter the species composition, structure and nativity of Maryland’s forests. I am examining the cascading impacts to community structure, diversity, and available prey for spiders resulting from these comprehensive impacts to native forest vegetation. This work will highlight the importance of Maryland’s native vegetation and forest habitats to invertebrate conservation.
Abstract: Wavyleaf basketgrass (Oplismenus undulatifolius) is an invasive grass in Maryland and Virginia. Here, a percent leaf-damage assessment and a comparison of insect community structure between invaded and non-invaded sites will be conducted to determine the effect insects have on wavyleaf basketgrass and how wavyleaf basketgrass affects the insect community.
Anna Johnson, PhD candidate University of Maryland Baltimore County
Abstract: This research will experimentally manipulate plant community composition in the fall of 2013, in 30 city-owned vacant lots in Baltimore, MD. Seeds of native plant species will be added and resulting shifts in plant biodiversity and ecosystem function will be monitored, to inform future urban restoration and landscape management plans. The MNPS grant covered reseeding in the fall of 2014, greenhouse supplies, and signage for the lots.