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Intensive herbivory by white-tailed deer has plagued Valley Forge National Historical Park’s forests since the early 1980s. A deer management plan was enacted to reduce the size of the herd by at least 1000 deer over the next two years. The goal of my research was to model the impacts of changing levels of deer herbivory on the forests. I developed a forest model using data from a large deer exclosure erected in the park in the late 1980s. I am using the model to simulate how changes in herbivory and disturbance may affect forest composition over the next 120 years. My results suggest that changes in herbivory may be a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for restoring forests to their historical state. The finished model will serve as a tool for the park’s resource managers to use in developing long-term restoration plans.

People

Meghan Blumstein
Researcher

Andrea Lloyd
Sponsor & Professor of Biology

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A MiddLab Project

Monitoring Carbon Uptake on College Lands

Learn more about Biology and Environmental Studies at Middlebury College.

Middlebury College has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2016. As the largest private landowner in Addison County, there is tremendous potential for land management practices to contribute to the goal of carbon neutrality. As part of an effort to understand how carbon sequestration varies among the different forest types on College-owned lands, we monitored carbon uptake in the Battell Research Forest, an old-growth hemlock forest in East Middleury, VT. As expected for an old-growth forest, the Battell Research Forest contains substantial pools of carbon in live and dead biomass. The size of the woody debris pool was substantially larger at the Battell Research Forest than in secondary forests at Breadloaf. We conclude our presentation with a proposal for how to implement an ongoing carbon monitoring protocol on College-owned forest lands.

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A MiddLab Project

Curricular Connections: Tamar Rogoff Performance Projects

Learn more about Neuroscience and the Arts at Middlebury College.

The interface between science and art is the core of this residency. Innovative choreographer and current Guggenheim Fellow Tamar Rogoff, and actor/dancer Gregg Mozgala share their findings from two years of daily work expanding the limitations and possibilities of cerebral palsy through dance. Three days of free classes and discussions culminate in the public, ticketed performance of Diagnosis of a Faun on October 29 and 30.

Video top right: CBS Sunday Morning story, original broadcast December 2009

Video bottom right: Audience members leaving the Friday night, October 29th performance were asked “If you could describe Diagnosis of a Faun in one word, what would it be?”  Responses were as varied as they were enlightening.

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It is important to understand how crops will respond to climate change. Temperature, water availability, and insect predation influence crop yield and may also affect crop nutrients. Camelina sativa (camelina), an oilseed crop high in omega-3 fatty acids (FAs), grows best in the cold climates of Canada and northwestern US. In this study, camelina seeds and leaf tissue were grown at different temperatures and analyzed for FAs; glucosinolate levels were also studied in leaf tissues. This study’s findings suggest that higher temperatures significantly reduce omega-3 FAs and glucosinates in camelina.

People

Anne Runkel
Researcher

Helen Young
Professor of Biology and Advisor

Dr. David Sands and Dr. Alice Pilgeram
Montana State University Advisors

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Terrestrial ecosystems play an integral role in the global carbon balance, potentially functioning as carbon sinks that fluctuate through time and seasonal changes. The net ecosystem exchange of these ecosystems has been heavily studied at the Harvard Forest Environmental Measurements Site (HFEMS) and has shown an increase in carbon sequestration over the past two decades. My study was conducted to analyze various impacts of the ice storm tat struck New England in December 2008 with respect to the forest carbon flux.

People

Lauren Sanchez
Researcher
Professor of Environmental and Biosphere Studies
Professor of Biology

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A MiddLab Project

Trends and Perceptions in Zoo and Aquarium Field Trips

Learn more about Biology and Education Studies at Middlebury College.

This paper reports the results of a survey designed to examine trends in zoo and aquarium field trip attendance, as well as the perceptions and practices of zoo and aquarium educators. The results suggest that field trip attendance is down at most zoos and aquariums over the last five years, but increased during 2009 over 2008 at about half of the institutions reporting data. The results obtained here, combined with those reported in the published literature, suggest that zoo and aquarium educators must continue to provide classroom teachers with professional development opportunities if field trips are to remain an educationally-relevant part of the K-12 experience.

People

Nicholas J. Meiers
Researcher

Number and percent of zoo and aquarium educators mentioning a particular theme for their visit (n=37).

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A MiddLab Project

Restorative Justice at Middlebury College

Learn more about Philosophy, Biology, Sociology & Anthropology and Justice at Middlebury College.

According to Howard Zehr (2002), “Restorative justice is a process to involve, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in a specific offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs, and obligations, in order to heal and put things as right as possible.” We propose various methods of incorporating restorative practices into the Middlebury College judicial system.

People

Ben Manger ’11, Philosophy
Dana Callahan ’13, Biology
Matthew George ’12.5, Biology
Clayton Paschke ’13, Sociology
Researchers

Jon Kidde
Sponsor, Sociology & Anthropology

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A MiddLab Project

The effects of prolonged exposure to prolactin upon adult neurogenesis

Learn more about Biology at Middlebury College.

For his thesis research, Tyler Prince (’11) is continuing our research with prolactin to examine the effects of prolonged exposure to prolactin upon adult neurogenesis. This summer, he conducted histological staining for newly proliferated cells in the hippocampus (See pictures).

The hippocampus is an area of the brain that plays a critical role in the processing of spatial and temporal memories and is involved in working memory more generally. Therefore, the growth of new nerve cells is of particular interest in this brain region, and our research has implications for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and chronic depression.

People

Tyler Prince
Researcher

Mark Spritzer
Assistant Professor of Biology

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Full Project Description [DOC]

Spritzer et al Figure 2

Evidence that an acute low dose of the hormone prolactin caused an increase
in cell proliferation within the hippocampus region of the brain


A high mortality of seeds and seedlings has been documented in areas of high conspecific adult density as a result of increased predation and disease. Although this phenomenon has received significant attention in the scientific literature, the long-term evolutionary and ecological impact of density-dependent seedling mortality remains poorly understood. The purpose of the present study is to determine the population-level impact of density-dependent seedling mortality on heavily exploited big-leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla).

People

Chris Free
Researcher

Matt Landis
Faculty Sponsor

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A MiddLab Project

Mapping Trees: A Horticulture Study

Learn more about Biology, Geography, and Facilities at Middlebury College.

Tim Parsons, the College’s Horticulturalist developed an interactive map of all the trees on campus. In Tim’s Urban Forest class, his students took the tree population and ran it through modeling software called iTree to look at carbon sequestration, pollution abatement, etc. Students in other classes have used the map for tree identification. For example, a student recently contacted Tim because she was looking for Cherry trees to evaluate for a plant community ecology class.

People

Tim Parsons
College Horticulturalist and Project Lead

Bill Hegman
GIS Specialist

Katie Clagett and Chris Rodgers
LIS GIS Interns

trees

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