2012 Mentor Projects
Invasive species are a persistant focus of restoration and management of natural areas. European buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) is an exotic shrub that has recently become the most prevalent woody species in the Chicago region. Previous research suggests that there are modified soil nutrients and organisms may drive plant invasion inhibit successful restoration of native plant communities.
Bacteria and fungi are the lungs of our planet. Despite their widespread interactions in nature and the clinical environment, little is known about the molecular mechanisms underlying these interactions and their potential impacts on human and ecosystem health.
Gravel Hills are a rare fragmented habitat in the Upper midwest, and as a consequence they have a high frequency of species identified as rare or threatened. What makes this interesting is that this is a naturally fragmented habitat and therefore many of the species which are found on these hills have evolved to survive in this type of condition.
Castilleja coccinea is a semi-parasitic plant that produces flowers subtended by brightly colored bracts. In most cases the bracts of this species are red (coccinea= Latin word meaning "deep red") however many populations in the Chicago Region have yellowish bracts.
Eutrophication and invasive species are two of the strongest drivers of negative
In this project, we are evaluating the effects of tallgrass prairie restoration on native bee communities, which are extremely diverse in the region. In light of recent pollinator declines of honeybees and some species of bumblebees, it is important to understand what aspects of habitat restoration may benefit the 500+ species of bees native to this region.
Isoëtes butleri is an endangered lycopod (fern ally). In Illinois this species has exhibited recent population declines, and managers are interested what factors influence population size.
Habitat change influences dynamics between plants and their insect herbivores. We are investigating interactions between the purple coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia) and insect herbivores in fragmented prairies.
This project will determine the extent to which habitat fragmentation is affecting gene flow in Oenothera harringtonii, an annual Colorado endemic whose habitat is increasingly disturbed by numerous development activities. Oenothera harringtonii has night-blooming flowers that are pollinated primarily by hawkmoths in the evening and matinal bees in the early morning hours.
Many plants in fragmented prairie habitat experience reproductive failure. Self-incompatibility (SI) is the trait that is most consistently associated with reproductive susceptibility to habitat fragmentation. Worldwide, it is estimated that about 60% of plant species have some kind of SI system.
The Plants of Concern (POC) Program (www.plantsofconcern.org) monitors over 225 species of the Chicago Region's endangered, threatened, and rare plants, assesses long-term trends in rare plant species, and provides data on plant response to management activities and environmental threats to over 70 partner landowners and managers for conservation...