Science instructor Dean Mohlman recently engaged his Biology 1 students in an exciting habitat restoration experiment with the help of Charlton Perry, director of St. Stephen’s Devil’s Canyon Wilderness Program and land management coordinator. For the experiment, Mohlman’s students were paired up and assigned a 10’-by-100’ area on St. Stephen’s 370-acre campus to study the effects of native cedar (Juniperus ashei) overgrowth on biodiversity.
Students were asked to identify and catalogue plant species present in their assigned area. In addition to completing sample analyses of their specific area and determining the accuracy of their sample compared with the full 150’-by-100’ study area, students were asked to consider:
what the land might have looked like 100 or more years ago
if humans might have contributed to a change in species diversity
what could be done to restore the habitat and make it more bio-diverse
what experiments could be performed to implement and analyze change
Moving into the spring term, the students will continue to research, design and implement a plan to increase biodiversity in the area.
This habitat restoration project is a pilot program for Biology 1 students. For future classes, Mohlman will ask students to analyze the plan and findings from this inaugural 2018-19 class and then develop their own plan for adjacent land areas based upon further research and analysis of growth in the original area.