Research Interests- Beech bark disease's influence on small mammals & black bear


In previous summers,  I  headed out to the Adirondack Ecology center in Newcomb, NY (SUNY ESF) as well as to the Frost Valley YMCA in Claryville, NY in the Catskill Park. My goal was to survey the intensity of Beech bark disease in various stands in these 2 mountain parks. Within the stands I trapped  small mammals, set up seed traps to quantify hard mast yield, and noted sign of black bear (e.g., claw marks, scat, cooling pits, canopy nests). In addition, I  surveyed the infection level of surrounding trees to see if there was a correlation to beechnut abundance. I expect that this disease is having impact on these mammals that rely on the only significant masting tree in the park preserves.

Lauren Miller a Colgate undergraduate hard at work weighing and measuring a meadow vole in an old field near campus. This same method is used at the beech bark sites.






Disease hit really hard at the summit of Drybrook ridge in the Catskill Park (summer 2007)

Classic disease manifestation...mature beech die-back, while thickets of beech sprout from below. The disease seems to target more mature trees, unfortunately these are the trees that mast.

View from the summit of Drybrook ridge at the Penguin lookouts in the Catskills. Defoliation is apparent suggesting that our northern forests are under attack from numerous threats.

Salivary amylase gel trial run pre-starch and staining.

Lauren Miller psyched that our gel ran without any problems!

Now we're ready to start running the gels on our Peromyscus sp. samples from the field this summer/fall. 




 Lauren and her very first Peromyscus salivary amylase gel. She is looking at bands (low= P. leucopus, high= P. maniculatus).

New recruit from my CORE: Discoveries in Biology course Meghan Lawler ran her first gel last week and Lauren awaits the results for our recording. FYI: Our field Ids matched our salivary amylase verification at Adirondack Park (Newcomb, NY Huntington Forest  and Hamilton, NY sites!! So exciting...

Buckets to collect beechnut rain at the Adirondack site, Newcomb NY.

Snow!! It confounded our leaf collection.

Look at that seed yield!! 2007 was a non-mast year for Beech. Lots of rodents because of the great mast last year, but no nuts this year. Next year, we're expecting fewer mammals and more mast.

Peromyscus skull, a surprising bycatch, for a seed bucket. Goes to show you they are arboreal!

Meghan Lawler presents our findings at the "Egg" conference center in Albany NY at the Northeastern Natural History Conference!

Meghan explaining salivary amylase electrophoresus!





Meg and Danielle in front of funky dice sculpture in the "Egg" plaza after her poster session.

Amy Dechen and Meg at the "Egg"!

Stay tuned, the article on beech bark disease and small mammals will be in volume 19(3) of Northeastern Naturalist in 2012!