Conversely, another article titled, “Effects of trampling and vegetation removal on species diversity and micro‐environment under different shade conditions” provides some insight about plant variation in areas with contrasting light and foot traffic. In the abstract, they write how areas where there was no stress had little variation. Likewise, when there was a lot of stress, the lack of water from excess sunlight and trampling resulted in one stress tolerant species dominating the other plants. However, in a shady area, the availability of water allowed for multiple species to coexist and variation was higher.
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There are resources online involving studies that have used some of the variables that we are proposing. One example of these resources is, “Stability in the plant communities of the Park Grass Experiment: the relationships between species richness, soil pH and biomass variability.” In this paper, they found that variation in an area had a negative relationship with biomass. They did not explain exactly why this was the case, but they proposed that time and soil pH may have also had an effect on the variation. In the abstract, they describe how areas with low acidity have more variation because that causes a stress on the species that are rooted in the soil.
After the eight groups have been organized, each will be assigned a variable to be investigated. Once they get their variable, they will plan out locations where they will be able study different degrees of the that variable. When they get to the area where they will be studying, they will mark out a one square meter area to be sampled. They will then scan the marked area, looking for different species of grass, weed, or flower, and record the species richness. After they study an area with one form of their variable, they will go on to study another area with a different form of their variable. For example, after a group finds the species richness of an area of high pedestrian traffic, they will go study an area with low pedestrian traffic. Using the data from these two areas, the group will be able to compare and analyze whether their variable has an effect on species richness. Once all of the groups are done, they can all compare their results to figure out which variable has the most significant impact on the plants.
The species of grasses and weeds that inhabit the ground and turf people walk on often go by unnoticed. In this experiment, we propose to study the diversity and richness of these species and figure out what variables play a major role in changing the diversity and richness. In order for the project to be compliant with eight different groups collecting data, we came up with eight different variables. These variables include: soil pH, amounts of sunlight, amounts of foot traffic and nearby vehicular traffic, and elevation in relation to water runoff. In addition to that, other variables groups could study are: frequency the area is mowed, how recently the grass was planted, and the grass’s proximity to a body of water.
Another example of an ecosystem engineer is the gopher tortoise. The gopher tortoise is a species of tortoise that lives in the southeastern united states. Since reptiles are cold blooded, they usually hide in the shade when the sun is too hot. However, gopher tortoises dig tunnels in order to escape the hot rays of the sun. These tortoises dig complex pathways in which they can rest while the sun is too hot. Interestingly, other animals use these tunnels as well. For example, rattlesnakes have been seen hiding in the tunnels right along side the tortoise. Because the tortoise is armored, it doesn’t have to worry about the rattlesnake attacking it. In addition to protection from the sun, tortoise tunnels serve as an escape for forest fires. In dry, woodland environments where fires are frequent, animals of all kinds can take refuge in the tortoise tunnels until the flames die down. For example, armadillos have been seen to be hiding in these tunnels.
Recently on youtube, I was watching some BBC videos featuring David Attenborough. One video that I watched was about beavers. Beavers have a much more sophisticated system of engineering than they are given credit for. In the video, it is shown the tiny stream that they used to turn into a giant pond system that enables them to traverse through their environment and not be attacked by a bear or a mountain lion. They also extend their territory by digging tunnels that lead them to sources of food. For food, the beavers ingest wood from terrestrial plants and also aquatic plants. One interesting behavior they have is how they will bring back wood and keep it in a storage area underwater. Scientists call this their “fridge” and it allows them to be active throughout the winter, instead of having to hibernate. The beavers live in a structure that is built with such strength that it is impenetrable by a bear. During the winter, hot air can be seen flowing out the top of the snow covered lodge, just showing the insulative properties of the lodge.
The job seminar that I attended was for Jesse “Jay” Gatlin. Jay Gatlin is and Associate Professor of Molecular Biology at the University of Wyoming. He originally studied mechanical engineering, more specifically studying brake mechanics in cars. A lot of his research lends to his mechanical engineering background, as his lab researches the mechanical properties of spindle assemblies and microtubules in the cell. The major questions in his lab include: how does spindle get bipolar shape, how does cell size influence spindle size, and how is spindle positioning controlled. His lab has a website which includes his staff and his publications. One of them involves him using fluorescent molecules to visualize microtubules.
The job seminar was very interesting, it was about how they could change the spindles and what possible applications they could have. One drawback to the seminar was that there were some technical difficulties so Professor Gatlin was unable to talk for the entire time. He began the seminar by giving an overview of cells and microtubules. One of the most interesting points that he brought up was that cell structures scale along with the size of the cell, similar to how organs scale inside different species of animals. His lab had an experiment where they controlled the size of the droplets of cell extract, and they found that the spindle size correlated with the width of the droplet. He then described the future uses of his research. He proposed that he can develop layered hydrogels in order to measure the forces that are exerted by the microtubules.
I would recommend that the biology department hires Professor Gatlin. I find it very interesting that he is from a mechanical engineering background. It gives him a different perspective on how the mechanical processes of the cell transpire. He made the seminar entertaining, because he was a pretty funny guy. His power point contained many videos and animations that really helped him get his point across. I would love to have a class with him as a teacher.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst is teeming with great faculty, which is what makes it such a great university. All of the great faculty made it difficult to choose one person to write about. However, after searching through the MCB faculty list, I found Dr. Sandra L Peterson. Sandra Peterson is a Professor of Molecular Neuroendocrinology of reproduction at UMass. I would describe Dr. Peterson as a developmental biologist, because of her background. Sandra Peterson got her BS in Biology at Rutgers University in 1977. She then went on to get her MS in Neuroendocrinology at Oregon State University in 1980. Finally, she followed that up with her PhD in Neuroendocrinology at Oregon State University in 1984. In 2015 she was given the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Mentoring. She was also given the 2015-2016 Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award.
In addition to teaching and directing programs, Dr. Peterson has also published papers during her career. One paper that is particularly interesting is called Novel progesterone receptors: neural localization and possible functions. In this paper, she described research her lab conducted on rat forebrains. Their main purpose was to discover which receptors were most prominent in the brain, in an effort to decide which receptor she should focus to paper on. In order to do this, they used in-situ hybridization to map genes encoding receptors and their binding partners inside the rat’s forebrain. The findings are displayed with images of the x-ray film autoradiograms. Their information indicated that mPR (membrane progestin receptor) was not expressed significantly in the neuroendocrine area of the brain. On the other hand, PGRMC1, PGRMC2 and SERBP1 were expressed much more, and they were found in the hippocampus, cortical, and cerebral regions where functions controlled by progesterone happen. PGRMC stands for progesterone receptor membrane component, and SERBP is plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 RNA-binding protein. Ultimately, it was discovered that PGRMC1 was the most abundantly expressed gene in the results, so that is what they focused on in the review.