Redesigning Our Future Focus Groups
A Backbone for Conservation
Instructor: Joe Poston
Vertebrates, animals with backbones, come in all shapes and sizes, and they include animals that are active at all times of day and all times of year. This variety of behavior makes it challenging to study vertebrates in the wild. In addition, many vertebrates are endangered because of human actions. Consequently, it is even more important to study wild vertebrate populations to help us make decisions about how to improve their chances of surviving. In this module, you will learn some of the techniques that scientists use to study populations of vertebrates in the wild. We will study animals that are active during the day and animals that are active at night. If you have a sense of adventure, and a willingness to get dirty, then you have a backbone for conservation.
Environmental Health Investigators
Instructor: Carmony L. Hartwig
Environmental health is an important and rapidly growing field that intertwines several aspects of science including ecology, biology, chemistry and bioengineering. The overall health of an environment can be assessed by investigating the invertebrate diversity and abundance in a given area, and can provide important information as to the health of the surrounding ecosystem. In this focus group we will discuss the basic biology of select invertebrate species, as well as learn the techniques associated with collection and surveillance measures that investigators employ in the field. We will discuss the benefits of invertebrates to the overall health of an ecosystem, as well as how climate change may affect the diversity and abundance of these populations. We will spend most our time exploring the ecological preserve, and learn simple, hands-on ways we can influence invertebrate population dynamics in our community in the face of global environmental change. We will additionally spend a portion of our time in the laboratory, identifying collections and conducting molecular assays used by environmental health specialists.
Invasive Alien Plants and Animals: Friend or Foe to the Environment?Instructor: Dr. Jay F. Bolin
Alien invasive species are considered one of the top threats to biodiversity on the planet. First this focus group intends to provide an introduction to the value of organismal biodiversity, from ecosystem services to the intrinsic value provided by diverse communities of plants and animals. Then we will discuss and learn (in the field) about how invasive organisms arrive in new habitats and the negative impacts invasive species may have on native biodiversity. However, the positive impacts in terms of ecosystem services (e.g. Asiatic clams filtering the water column, Kudzu serving as forage for endangered butterflies) of invasive species will also be underscored because in some environments, such as urban parks, invasive species are ubiquitous and are here to stay. We will use Kudzu (and/or Chinese Wisteria) and Asiatic Clams in the Catawba Ecological Preserve as model organisms, and more than half of the session will be spent in the preserve, quantifying the magnitude of the invasions using field sampling techniques and work to identify potential solutions or recommendations to control or use invasive species productively (as in eating Kudzu!).
Read more about Dr. Jay Bolin.