Catching our breath … Fall 2015 update

Phew … it’s the annual winter break breath catching here in the Trinity Weed Lab. We had a very busy fall 2015 semester, which you could probably tell from the lack of recent posts. Not to mention that Lupita and Jordan are both abroad for this entire academic year, and while we all miss their presence in the lab, it seems like they’re have fun:

LupitaJordynParisSo, to catch you up on what we’ve been working on:

  • “Functional impacts of woody invasive species assemblages on bird communities” project: We made a lot of progress on what is turning out to be a complicated project last semester! Emily and Sarah took (or more accurately, were given) the lead on writing the first half (Introduction/Methods) of the manuscript for this project, and after lots of research and revisions came up with a very strong start to the manuscript. Emily also was able to finalize the conversion of the plant community data we collected last summer into GIS data, which was necessary for comparing the spatial distributions of plant and bird communities at the Knox Preserve (check out her work below). Meanwhile, we had several intrepid volunteers (Diane Hitchcock, Beth Sullivan and Bill Furgueson) who spent most of their weekends last fall at our field site collecting data on migratory bird communities at Knox. We’re now working on entering these last bits of data into GIS, and finalizing data analyses and manuscript preparations. Stay tuned for updates over at the project webpage.
  • “Management of woody invasive species assemblages” project: We collected our last round of field data for this project back in September (2015), see the previous post for cool picture of that day! We spent much of the last semester compiling all of the different pieces of data we collected for that project – including: plant community diversity data; data on plant canopy structure and closure; and morphology data for target invasive and native species that will be used for functional diversity analyses – and are now working on finalizing data analyses and preparing a manuscript on this project. Stay tuned for updates over at the project webpage.

Other cool projects:

  • Isabelle Moore – Community Learning Research Fellows Program: Fighting the Hartford Food Desert … learn more about this great research project (in collaboration with the local organization Billings Forge Community Works) by downloading Isabelle’s final poster here. The final capstone event for the program was covered o Trinity’s website.
  • Alex Perez – Alex continued to build on his efforts to study cycling infrastructure and build an engaged cycling community in Hartford by: 1) Establishing a cool new web “diary” (Two-Wheeled Hartford) of his visual perspective on cycling in Hartford; 2) Interning with Hartford’s Department of Development Services – you can learn more about his internship by reading his great editorial for the Hartford Courant: “Hartford Needs to Make Room for Bikes” … Alas, Alex is studying abroad also next semester, but you can follow his journey through the world’s great cities at Trinity’s Center for Urban and Global Studies webpage.
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Fall sampling at Knox Preserve

It's that time of year again - the nights are getting cooler - and lab members juggle their research with classes and everything else that college entails.

It’s that time of year again – the nights are getting cooler – and lab members juggle their research with classes and everything else that college entails.

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Weed Lab represents at ESA 2015

As mentioned in a previous post, the Trinity Weed Lab was well represented at the 100th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Baltimore. Sadly there are no photos of Cameron’s talk at ESA 2015 in Baltimore, but check out the now updated sections of this website that discuss the research that he presented.

Jordan really enjoyed her first professional meeting, especially so because she was awarded a prestigious and highly competitive SEEDS Fellowship for the meeting. In fact, it turned out she was one of the youngest recipients of this honor! The Fellowship fully funded her attendance at the meeting, and connected her with a mentor for the meeting, all of which made the experience even richer for her. Jordan also ably and confidently presented her first poster at the meeting (see below), making for a pretty awesome first conference experience.


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Lab members participate in the 2015 Ecological Society of America Meeting in Baltimore, MD

CentenLogoGroupedCameron and Jordan are participating in this week’s centennial annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America and presenting results from the lab’s current research. Jordan is one of the youngest recipients of a prestigious Strategies for Ecology, Education and Diversity (SEEDS) Fellowship from ESA, and will be presenting a poster for the first time at a major national society meeting – wish her luck! Cameron is presenting a talk, and will be taking over as chair of ESA’s Researchers at Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) Section. Stay tuned for pictures …

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Summer 2015

Well it’s the middle of July, which means that many of our summer research students – we had five this year – are wrapping up their work and getting set to go home. Over the next few weeks we will post summaries of their work on a number of related research projects at Knox Preserve over the past ten weeks, so stay tuned!


Summer 2015 research students hard at work – from L to R: Sarah, Tracy, Preston and Lupita. Not pictured are Emily (the photographer) and Jordyn.



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Alex and Cameron go to Hartford City Hall

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 1.23.32 PMCameron and Alex led a public discussion last night in the Hartford City Hall Council Chambers on “Cycling Infrastructure in Hartford.” The discussion began with a presentation by Alex summarizing his map analyses of Hartford’s existing bike lanes, as well as the results of his recently disseminated community survey on biking attitudes in the city. Afterwards there was a brief panel discussion with Chris Brown and Francisco Gomes, followed by an animated public forum with lots of great questions and suggestions on how to improve cycling in Hartford. Stay tuned for more updates on Alex’s efforts to make Hartford a bike-friendly city!


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Knox Preserve Educational Sign Project in the Final Stages

Thanks to lots of hard work by Eunice (who drew the beautiful illustrations), Cassandra (who put together most of the text), myself and Dr. Joan Morrison at Trinity, the signs we have been designing for the Avalonia Land Conservany Inc.’s Knox Preserve near Mystic, CT are nearing completion. Check them out and let us know if you have any comments, higher resolution copies are also available.


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Cool maps (really analyses) from Jenna


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More to come …

Greg and Cassandra "celebrating" the end of the 2014 field season (they're so tired they can hardly smile)!

Greg, Cassandra and the end of the 2014 Knox field season!

I find myself playing catch-up again with blog posts, but will be posting more regularly in the near future as I try to acknowledge all the great work that our lab completed last year – both in the field and the lab. Stay tuned for updates this coming week!

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Fall? Really, already?

Wow – it’s already fall, the leaves are starting to change color, and I swear that just the other day the summer season of field work was starting up! More than anything I’d like to think that’s a testament to how busy the summer was for our lab.

We had five awesome undergraduate students working during the summer, most of whom came with a semester’s worth of experience already. So we hit the ground running in late May as soon as commencement was over and worked to finish collecting soil samples that we’ll use to study interactions between environmental factors and habitat formation at Knox Preserve. All told we collected about 850 samples over the course of the spring and early summer – a pretty mean feat considering that half the site is densely forested. The Weed Lab team then spent much of the summer analyzing moisture, salinity and carbon levels in the collected soils. Finally, twice during the summer we re-visited vegetation sampling plots we established last fall to monitor plant community responses to the removal of invasive plants. These visits took some time as we were measuring half a dozen different parameters – including plant species diversity, abundance, canopy cover and changes in the morphology of specific native and invasive plants.

It was a lot of work but we have a ton of data to start sifting through now, and excitingly the data we’ve already analyzed has helped Avalonia better plan out their management for the coming year. This is really the ultimate goal of the project anyway, helping to make invasive plant control more effective while minimizing non-target ecological impacts. With the summer field season in our rear view mirror now we’re all gearing up for a productive academic year of research, and fondly remembering the days when all we had to do was research.

Drawing by Cassandra Cronin

Drawing by Cassandra Cronin

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