Candidate for Master's Degree
Graduate Program in Plant Biology and Conservation
Northwestern University and Chicago Botanic Garden
Research Interests: Restoration Ecology, Native Species Restoration, Urban Ecosystems
Desmodium glutinosum inflorescence
The goal of my project is to investigate possible environmental and ecological factors that are preventing successful reintroduction of two native woodland legume species, Desmodium glutinosum and Lespedeza violacea, in McDonald Woods at Chicago Botanic Garden. Greenhouse-propagated seedlings grow to reproductive maturity after being transplanted, but seeds sown in autumn yield seedlings that do not reach reproductive maturity during their first growing season. This evidence suggests that loss of young plants to herbivory or poor growing conditions is preventing legume population growth. To study this problem, my research aims to answer the following questions: (1) Under what environmental and restoration conditions are plant productivity and seedling survival improved? (2) Are the available Rhizobium inoculants supplied by seed providers appropriate for these species? (3) What are the effects of increased nitrogen availability and resource competition on legume seedling productivity and survival? I am addressing these questions in two parts: field experiments conducted during summer 2011 tested the effects of soil and environmental conditions and site restoration maturity on survival and productivity of transplanted seedlings. Controlled greenhouse experiments during the following winter will test the effects of inoculant specificity, nitrogen availability, and plant competition with neighboring grasses on seedling growth and productivity. The data collected from these experiments will be used to inform revisions of restoration protocols and establish best practices for the reintroduction of woodland legumes in sites where previous restoration attempts have failed.
Plant Biology and Conservation MS Research Award