Freshman Scholars Program 2013

Insect Responses to Forest Harvest and Timber Removal

Instructor:  Glen N. Stevens, Ph.D.


Project Description:

One student who is interested in environmental science, biology, and/or ecology. A background in insectsis not required, but we will be working with bugs. The two faculty members and students working on Dr. Stevens's project and Dr. Fredericksen's two projects will work together as a research group.

Insects are important parts of local food webs, and forest disturbances associated with logging and timber stand improvement (TSI) may have significant effects on the types and numbers of insects in the local ecosystem. Recently, the emerging bioenergy market makes TSI thinning wood marketable for wood chips, when prior to this point, it may have simply decomposed in place. This project is part of an ongoing effort to compare the effects of Timber Stand Improvement thinning cuts with and without the types of wood removal associated with biomass energy. The project includes a series of unharvested control stands, TSI plots (thinned wood left behind), and TSI plots within the thinned wood removed to stimulate a bioenergy harvest. The student(s) will help monitor insect activity in these stands using pitfall traps, blacklight traps, and malaise traps.

Student will regularly collect, identify, and conserve insect specimens from an ongoing study of the ecological effects of harvest and biomass removal in a replicated study within the Ferrum College forest lands. This will require regular field sampling using a series of standard methods, identification of the samples found to at least the Family level, and proper pinning of voucher specimens of collected insects. Specimens collected during the sampling period will be taken to the Virginia Tech Insect ID lab for definitive identification, and the student will meet with research faculty during the visit. The student will be involved in assessments of environmental characteristics within the different stands and will discuss primary literature that examines invertebrate responses to disturbance.

Stevens and student

Glen N. Stevens, Ph.D.

Dr. Glen Stevens is an Assistant Professor of Biology and Environmental Science. His primary research interests are invertebrate ecology and restoration ecology, and he is interested in examining how changing environmental conditions influence interactions between plants, herbivores, and predators. In addition to the research project described here, Dr. Stevens is involved in specific research focusing on the ecological effects of restoration of native grasses, and the responses of important invertebrate predators to environmental cues.

If you have specific questions about this project, please contact Dr. Stevens directly at GStevens3@ferrum.edu.

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