Student research contributes to conservation efforts at UW-Green Bay natural areas

Six University of Wisconsin-Green Bay students will report on research conducted at three 
UW-Green Bay natural areas at the 26th annual Cofrin Student Symposium from 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 3, in the Christie Theatre in the University Union. More than 150 students over nearly three decades have received funding through the program made possible by an endowment established by the Cofrin family. The program also will include recognition of the recipient of the Paul and Thea Sager Scholarship for excellence in scientific writing. The event is free and open to the public.

Students in the program carry out research projects related to UW-Green Bay’s Cofrin Memorial Arboretum and other University-managed natural areas in Northeastern Wisconsin. Funding is provided by a student research grant endowment established by the families of the late Dr. David A. Cofrin and the late John Cofrin. The Land Trust Grant was established by Michael Draney and Vicki Medland of the UW-Green Bay faculty/staff to support student research at other natural areas in Northeast Wisconsin. Between the two programs, grants of up to $1,000 are awarded competitively based on student proposals and are open to all students at UW-Green Bay. Projects, carried out in collaboration with faculty members, must contribute to improving understanding of the ecology, history, and appreciation of the selected natural area(s), and help land managers in conservation and restoration efforts. The projects also give students experience in properly designing and carrying out research.

Students interested in applying for grants for the upcoming year should call Vicki Medland at 920-465-2342 or visit www.uwgb.edu/biodiversity/ for application guidelines. Applications are due April 13, 2015.

Among the six students presenting their results at the Cofrin Student Symposium on March 3, two will highlight the importance of invertebrates in forest ecology. Amber Konrad, Sturgeon Bay, used her grant to survey and create a GIS map of the distribution of ant mounds in the Cofrin Arboretum to better understand how the location of these important “soil engineers” may affect the distributions of other species and the ecology of the landscape. Linda Vang, Green Bay, will discuss the results of a project she began in 2013 examining the relationships between invertebrates and wildflower seeds. In 2013 she documented the presence of harvestmen (opiliones, sometimes incorrectly called “daddy longlegs”) on and near the wildflower seeds she was observing. She designed her second study to determine if harvestmen are predators of spring wildflower seeds and to assess the role of these arachnids in seed dispersal.

Lindsay Hansen, Kiel, conducted bird surveys at the University-managed Kingfisher Farm natural area in Manitowoc County. Her goals were to provide a detailed list and description of the migratory birds using the Lake Michigan shoreline and river mouth habitats at Kingfisher Farm and nearby conservation areas in order to provide land managers with information about the use of shoreline habitats by migratory bird species.

As part of a restoration effort in the wetlands at Point au Sable Nature Preserve, Cassondra Kollatz, Burlington, collected, counted and identified zooplankton she collected in a bayshore lagoon and in the bay of Green Bay. The goal was to provide baseline data for an ongoing restoration effort by informing ecologists about how changing water levels and future controlled burning of invasive plants may affect the zooplankton communities that form the basis of the food chain in the ecosystem.

Students at UW-Green Bay have been conducting snake surveys on the Cofrin Arboretum for several years, providing a unique opportunity to continue examining snake populations, distribution and movement. Students Jacqueline Corrigan and Tessa Moeller, Seymour, compared data from previous surveys to the data they collected last summer and fall to examine the effectiveness of sampling methods and to determine what impact the harsh winter of 2013-2014 might have had on the survivorship and distribution of snakes in the Arboretum.

As part of the symposium program, this year’s Sager Scholarship for Undergraduate Scientific Writing will be presented to Christa Kananen, Sobieski, for her paper titled “Drawdown of the Potentiometric Surface of the Cambrian-Ordovician Aquifer in Marinette County, Wisconsin.” Prof. Robert Howe, director of the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity at UW-Green Bay will introduce and moderate the March 3 program.

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