Creating a land cover map for fire analyses

Fire is a natural component of many of Earth’s ecosystems, and it has a profound effect on carbon storage. Humans have altered natural fire cycles in many places by providing ignition sources, and altering fuel loads (ie. from the introduction of invasive plants), and these changes are likely impacting our natural carbon sinks. In Dr. Bethany Bradley’s Spatial Ecology Lab, we look to address such issues at the regional level using GIS and remote sensing technology. By focusing on a large spatial scale, we are able to search for patterns and make inferences about spatial relationships.

Building a Global Plant Invaders Database

Invasive plant species transform ecosystems and significantly reduce biodiversity worldwide. A prominent issue of invasion biogeography is that invasive plant species are inconsistently defined. Oftentimes, studies use established plant species (i.e., non-native species that have established in a new area) as a proxy for invasive species (i.e., non-native species that have established in a new area and are spreading, often with adverse impacts). By failing to separate established and invasive plant species, it is difficult to fully understand the invasion process.

Wine quality of emerging grape varieties for New England

The cold climate wine industry has recently boomed in the Northeastern America after the successful breeding of cold-tolerant grape varieties. These cultivars are also of interest in a broader geographic area as they are the most resilient to climate change. Cultural practices can have tremendous effect on fruit juice quality (sugar, acidity,...) and might allow to control disease by sustainable means rather than the use of pesticides. This project will quantify the effect of cultural practices on grape varieties to optimize fruit juice quality and control diseases.

DNA Extraction, PCR and Sequence Alignment of a Gall Wasp

This project will be based in an invasive insect and biological control lab. The black oak gall wasp is a stem galling insect that causes extreme oak tree mortality on Cape Cod and Long Island. The student will assist a PhD student with DNA, PCR and sequence alignment of parasitoids of the black oak gall wasp. It is not expected that the student have experience with these methods prior to hire. If the student does have experience, that will just accelerate the process and increase their independence.

Estrogen responsive cells in the zebra finch brain

We are interested in how hormones that are made in the brain impact neurons. In our lab we focus on the estrogen hormone known as estradiol, and determine how the synthesis of this chemical impacts audition in a small songbird known as the zebra finch. For this particular study, we are quantifying neurons that express a receptor for estradiol and asking whether these estrogen responsive cells belong to a specific subtype of neurons.

Ecology and Evolution of Primate Communities

Primates do not live by themselves in the forest. They interact with many other plants and animal species and these interactions can have important effects on primate behavior and ecology. Primate communities consist of all the primate species that interact with each other in a particular study site or area. Data are now available for several hundred primate communities from around the world. These data can be used to examine broad patterns of diversity and to test if these patterns are similar or different across continents.

Evolution of Primate Hair

Humans are unusual primates in many ways, including our hair morphology. Human body hair is very short and less dense than other primates. In addition, many human populations exhibit scalp hair that has very long growth cycles. Other primate species exhibit interesting variation in their hair characteristics, though the reason for this variation is poorly known. Our project will test several hypotheses to explain variation in hair length, width, and density across many primate species.

Invasive Species Ecology and Climate Change Research

The Stinson lab is looking for two students interested in a holistic ecological research experience; the research will involve field and laboratory work. Overall, we are looking for students interested in earning 1 or 2 credits for helping with ecological research within the Environmental Conservation Department. Before November, some time will be spent out at the Harvard Forest (in Petersham, MA) looking at microhabitat effects on a metapopulation of garlic mustard – an invasive, biennial plant.

Emerald Ash Borer Technician

I am seeking a motivated student interested in conservation, ecology, or entomology to work with me on field and laboratory studies focused on controlling the invasive insect, the emerald ash borer. Since its discovery in Michigan in 2002, the emerald ash borer (EAB) has spread to 25 states in the US, killing millions of native ash trees. Management of EAB now focuses on biological control through the use of three introduced parasitoids that specialize in destroying EAB.


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