Mentor: Dr. Neal Williams
In winter of 2000-2001, the College built a water catchment pond behind Rhoads Hall to retain runoff water from local-area drainage systems as well as from the College grounds. This pond has three inlets, one from the Shipley School and nearby area, one from a storm drain on Wyndon Avenue and one inlet from a convergence of pipes beneath the College grounds that flows into the pond below the surface of the pond. Water exits the pond through a single pipe on the end of the pond opposite the inflow. In addition to providing a water control mechanism, the pond was intended to provide a habitat for native plants and animals. Native plants were introduced as part of the construction plan, but no proposal was made for restoration of other native species. Such a “field of dreams” strategy of restoring structural vegetation with the tacit assumption that other species will arrive on their own is a common approach in restoration ecology. Although other researchers at the College have made regular studies of chemistry and water flow, no surveys of biodiversity have been performed since initial construction. I will survey the plants, algae, invertebrates, mammals, herpetofauna and birds that inhabit the pond and the surrounding area and create a database that can be used by future researchers. Particular areas of focus will be the main inlet pipe, a wash coming from the city no. 2 inlet storm drain on Wyndon Avenue , and two paths through the waterline vegetation created and highly traveled by resident Canada geese. Since these are the most obvious sources of incoming water and runoff containing substances like vegetation and earth, they have a great deal of influence over the pond content.
Various sampling methods will be used for each taxonomic group. Aquatic organisms will be collected in traps or using dipnets; birds will be counted once a week in three sampling periods per day (early morning, midday , and dusk), and insects will be captured through net sweeps or traps. Invertebrates, plants and algae will be preserved and identified under microscopes if necessary, while vertebrates will be identified visually (or audibly in the case of birds), in the field. The information will be listed in a database containing the species name, distribution, and possibly other information that has not yet been encountered. This database may assist other researchers in linking further studies of chemical makeup, water flow, or other projects with the presence or absence of different types of wildlife in their study area.