During the fall of 2017, I sampled terrestrial invertebrates from a shrubland in Lackawanna State Park. I did this through a combination of malaise traps to catch flying insects and grab sampling directly from shrub branches. The goal of this project was to investigate the differences in arthropod biomass between areas dominated by different shrub species, some native and some invasive. Following this experience, I plan to generate a poster to present at the Northeast Regional Honors Council Conference in Providence, RI, in April of 2018 (as well as publishing a paper). In the future, I hope to collaborate with my professor in using this research to link the effect invasive shrubs have on migratory birds that rely on arthropods as a food source.
I have always been fascinated and concerned by the spread of invasive species, particularly plants. The wide-ranging effects they have on organisms at higher trophic levels has been and will continue to be an important subject of the scientific studies to which I hope to contribute. This work inspired me to focus more on an area of ecology that I paid little attention to before, that being terrestrial arthropods.
Over the last few years, I have taken several biology courses focused on ecology and symbioses between different organisms. This research gave me first-hand experience with the interactions and techniques of research that I first learned about in Penn State’s classrooms.
This work provided me with valuable in-field experience doing the type of work I hope to continue with my professional career. I gained insight into local ecology and the effects that various organisms have on one another. This project helped me hone my organizational and writing skills which will prove more than useful as I continue with field research after graduation.