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Downing and Anderson Receive $10,000 Research Grant

June 13, 2006

DELAWARE, Ohio — The zoology and botany/microbiology departments are thrilled to receive a $10,000 grant to fund two land management projects at the Ohio Wesleyan Kraus Wilderness Preserve.
"The grant will provide a unique opportunity to do large-scale management of the pond and will allow students to study the impacts of pond management on the aquatic food web," says Amy Downing, associate professor of zoology. Downing, along with Laurie Anderson, assistant professor of botany-microbiology, wrote the grant in February and received approval in May. The grant was financed by the Columbia Gas Company’s "Environmental Challenge Fund," which supports environmental management projects. 
Downing says the grant will essentially fund two projects. One project, taking place this summer, will involve dredging the two man-made ponds on the Ohio Wesleyan Kraus Nature Preserve, which are currently being overgrown by cattails. This dredging process will remove silt and decrease cattail growth, helping to preserve the pond for biology classes and student-faculty research, as well as the organisms that live there.
"The pond provides a critical habitat for aquatic invertebrates, amphibians, and fish and active pond management is necessary to maintain the pond as quality habitat for these organisms," Downing says.
The second project will study the effect of removing garlic mustard, an invasive biennial herb, from the Kraus Preserve, where it currently grows in abundance. Recognized as one of the ten worst invasive plants in Ohio, garlic mustard can have detrimental effects on spring wildflowers and tree seedlings. The Nature Preserves Committee at OWU has discussed removing the garlic mustard but has held off, unsure of whether the extensive labor would benefit the native plants.

"The removal study funded by the Environmental Challenge Grant will allow us to explore the true impact of one of these invasives [garlic mustard] and experiment with control methods," says Anderson. "This will provide invaluable real-world research and management experience for students interested in working with natural landscapes in the future."