Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Field Research

The Effect of Climate Change on Species and Ecosystems

Assistant Professor of Biology Jaime Blair (F&M) and Ms. Monique Gomez (teacher, McCaskey East High School) deploying Oomycete bait bags in the Lititz Run, Millport Conservancy. Bait bags contain wounded and unwounded rhododendron leaves, which may become infected by Oomycetes (water molds) naturally residing in the water. The bait bags are collected after seven days, and the leaves are then processed in Blair’s laboratory at F&M.

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Ms. Monique Gomez (teacher, McCaskey East High School) processing water samples taken from Lititz Run, Millport Conservancy, in Blair’s laboratory at F&M. Any Oomycetes (water molds) present in the water samples will be collected on filter paper and cultured.

Stefanie Strebel ’10, Jessica Fegely ’10 and Aubrey Ellertson ’11 sweep netting for insects in order to Biodiversity sampling to build a long-term database of biodiversity at Millport Conservancy. These data will be combined with environmental measurements to study the effect of climate change on animals and their habitats.

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Stefanie Strebel '10 at Lancaster County Park preparing to measure tree swallow nestlings.

The project, led by Assistant Professor of Biology Dan Ardia, studies the reproduction and conservation of swallows across the Western Hemisphere.

Measuring nestlings American Kestrels at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. Dan Ardia and his students are collaborating with researchers at Hawk Mountain to study kestrel reproductive behavior to help arrest population declines. Front (L to R): Becky Windsor '10, Jessica Fegely '10, Stefanie Strebel '10. Back (L to R): Ardia, Aubrey Ellertson '11.

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Professors Bob Walter and Dorothy Merritts collaborated with LandStudies Inc., environmental consultants based in Lititz, Pa., to study floodplain wetland restoration.

In their paper, “Natural Streams and the Legacy of Water Powered Mills,” they present evidence disproving the accepted model of the meandering river as the result of a natural process. The article captured the attention of the national scientific and consumer media, including coverage by the New York Times and a story on National Public Radio (NPR).

A common strategy, called "natural stream channel design," aims to slow erosion of stream banks by reshaping stream bends and installing boulders, yet the strategy is based on false assumptions about streams in the mid-Atlantic region.

"Our research could, and probably should, change the way people look at and restore streams in the mid-Atlantic region," Walter said.

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  • Red-Tailed Hawk Sightings
  •  In an effort to determine the distribution and behavior of F&M's red-tailed hawk population, students and faculty are initiating a survey. With your help, we can start to understand the habits of these charismatic campus residents.


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  • Environmental Science & Hamburgers
  • In the course “Footprints of Crime & Climate” in the spring of 2009, Katie Datin '11 proposed to analyze the stable isotope chemistry of hamburgers to detect whether cows ate grass or were fed corn.



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  • Wildlife Conservation for a Changing Planet
  • Students from Dr. Sarah Dawson's Wildlife Conservation for a Changing Planet class staged a series of presentations on Hartman Green aimed at educating local elementary and middle school children about wildlife conservation and other environmental issues.