Grasslands Restoration

Supervised by Dr. Caroline Christian
SSU Environmental Studies and Planning Department

Dr. Caroline Christian

Description of Project: What?

In fall 2010, Dr. Caroline Christian's Restoration Ecology (ENSP 423) students conducted independent research on the effects of invasive Harding grass (Phalaris aquatica) on grassland ecosystems at the Fairfield Osborn Preserve.

Dr. Christian's students evaluated different methods of controlling Harding grass and promoting growth of native grasses; their independent research focused on many topics, including the following:

  • How well the native Blue Wildrye (Elymus glaucus) grew within the experimental plots.
  • How arthropod populations and native summer-flowing plants were affected by different Harding grass treatments within the experimental plots.
  • Alternative methods for inhibiting the germination and growth of Harding grass. 

Students also collaborated to write portions of a Grasslands Management and Restoration Plan for use by Preserve land managers.

Description of Projects: So What?

Course learning objectives as stated on the syllabus mapped directly to students' service. For example, one learning objective was "to become more familiar with the scientific method and with how scientific results are applied by practitioners in land management and restoration settings." Students' independent research projects helped them "become more familiar with the scientific method." Students also applied "scientific results" to land management practices when helping to write the Grasslands Management and Restoration Plan.

Description of Project: Now What?

After completing Dr. Christian's class, many students secured internships that built on skills and relationships developed in Restoration Ecology and related classes. Dr. Christian says her students "seem especially drawn to working with nonprofit organizations" and that they "find deep satisfaction with the type of work they do" at these nonprofits. (See also Civic Engagement.)