On Saturday, seven students traveled to College Park, Maryland to attend the 2014 Mid-Atlantic Ecological Society of America (ESA) meeting. Five students, seniors Abby Steele, Hannah Brubach, Lauren Breza, Jeff Royer and Brandon Costik, worked alongside Dr. Thomas Murray on research that they presented at the University of Maryland. Two other students, senior Stephen Smith and junior Alexandra Doran, worked with Dr. David Bowne and presented research on his national scale project, “TurtlePop.”
Steele, Brubach and Breza worked with Murray on his research project regarding the restoration of Conewago Creek. The project was called “Conewago Creek Assessment: Determining the State of Impairment in an Agricultural Watershed.”
Royer and Costik worked with Murray on research involving nutrient dynamics and water quality improvements within Lake Placida. “Lake Placida is a eutrophic lake-biologically active-and has large amounts of nutrient loading coming into the lake, so we decided to measure the nutrient contents coming in and out of it,” Royer said. “This research is important because many strategic plans initiated by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) strive to reduce the contributions of sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus entering the Chesapeake Bay.”
Smith and Doran worked on TurtlePop, which was sponsored by the Ecological Research as Education Network (EREN). It allowed for a collaboration of data across a wide range of institutions.
“The project itself looked to investigate the effects of road density on turtle mortality rates,” Smith said. “We hypothesized that an increase in road density surrounding a body of water will lead to a larger number of female turtles being killed within that population. We are looking to see if this is true on a national scale.”
The students presented their research to fellow undergraduate and graduate students, as well as professors, from Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia. “The ESA meeting was a great event to attend for any environmental-minded individual,” Royer said. “Meeting other students and learning about their research was also an interesting experience.”
The ESA event will be hosted by Etown next year. However, it will not necessarily be held on campus.