Visiting Scientists

Project: Carbon sequestration in restored and natural wetlands.
Principal Investigator: Dr. Andy Baldwin and Dr. Amr Keshta, University of Maryland.
Project Description: This is an experiment on carbon sequestration in restored and natural wetlands using a bioassay approach that uses soil cores with a known amount of carbon. These cores are then left in the soil for a year. We would then look at the cores to see if they gained or lost carbon. At each site we would have transects of plots spanning the mudflat low marsh, high marsh, swamp, and upland.

Project: Environmental characteristics important in habitat selection for the eastern worm snake (Carphophis amoenus).
Principal Investigator: Dr. Kara Curtain, George Mason University.
Project Description: The aim of this study is to determine the environmental characteristics important in habitat selection for the eastern worm snake (Carphophis amoenus). This will involve searching coarse woody debris for worm snakes and measuring microhabitat and macrohabitat characteristics. Microhabitat measurements will include temperature, humidity, soil moisture, canopy cover and quadrat sampling for ground cover. Macrohabitat measurements will also involve temporary transects to estimate coarse woody debris, obtaining soil samples and measuring diameter breast height of trees.

Project: Biology of a new species of Orasema (Hymenoptera: Eucharitidae) from Jug Bay.
Principal Investigator: Dr. Michael W. Gates, USDA, Systematic Entomology Laboratory.
Project Description: Eucharitid wasps are obligate and brood parasitoids as immatures. Eggs are laid on vegetation near host ant nest entrances and active larvae seek passersby to which to attach, hopefully the correct species of ant. The goal of this study would be to obtain more adult wasps, seek plant tissues that have had eggs laid into them, preserving eggs and a plant for voucher material. If very fortunate, we would detect eucharitids exiting an ant nest. Samples of ants active in the area will be collected.

Project: Movement and migratory behavior of blue catfish in the Patuxent River.
Principal Investigator: Dr. Tuck Hines and Dr. Matt Ogburn, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.
Project Description: The purpose of this study is to examine the movements and migratory behaviors of blue catfish in the Patuxent River. Blue catfish are non-native, large, top predators that are likely having significant effects on habitats and food webs in Chesapeake Bay. We will tag up to 50 blue catfish with acoustic tags and deploy an array of receivers along the length of the Patuxent River that allows us to track individual fish moving throughout the river. We would like to locate one of these receivers at the River pier and at Wooton’s landing. This information will help us to understand how blue catfish are using different habitats along the river.

Project: Oven Birds.
Principal Investigator: Dr. Peter P. Marra, Migratory Bird Center Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, National Zoological Park.
Project Description: Geolocators were attached to several of the ovenbirds at Jug Bay. Recapturing the birds allows retrieving archived information from the geolocators that will provide information about their whereabouts during the winter. Some additional research on the Jug Bay population of ovenbirds may involve capturing birds, finding nests, monitoring reproductive success, etc.

Project: Tiger Beetles of Jug Bay: Population Monitoring.
Principal Investigator: Dr. Jonathan R. Mawdsley, Society for Conservation Biology and Smithsonian Institution.
Project Description: The Glendening Preserve at Jug Bay supports an important and diverse fauna of tiger beetles (Coleoptera: Cicindelidae), including several state sensitive species.  We are interested in conducting long-term monitoring studies of the tiger beetle populations at the Preserve, to improve our understanding of the population dynamics and activity patterns of these rare insects.  Tiger beetles have been sampled at these sites for over forty years, beginning with collectors from the Smithsonian Institution in the early 1970s and 1990s.  In 2004-2005, Dr. Jonathan Mawdsley led a concerted effort to identify all species of tiger beetles present at the Glendening Preserve.  The 2004-2005 surveys identified several state sensitive species that are associated with the sand barrens areas at the Preserve and resulted in a publication in the journal “Cicindela” about the Preserve and its tiger beetle populations.  We would like to visit the sand barrens sites in 2014-2015 to conduct tiger beetle counts at the sand barrens sites, following the same protocols that Dr. Mawdsley used in 2004-2005.  This study will also provide important new information about the responses of the tiger beetle populations to the recent vegetation management activities at the Glendening Preserve.

Project: Cryptic methane fluxes in upland forests.
Principal Investigator: Scott Pitz (Graduate Student), Johns Hopkins University.
Project Description: This project will further the understanding of CH4 emissions of tree and soils in upland ecosystems. I propose to test the hypothesis that trees and soils in upland forests can serve as conduits and sources of CH4. My main research objective is to quantify annual CH4 fluxes of upland forests, including soils and overlooked surfaces such as tree leaves and stems. I will also monitor soil moisture and groundwater conditions to elucidate any significant linkages between CH4 emissions and soil water content. This will help understanding of the main drivers of CH4 fluxes.

Project: Ecological genetics of a small mustard, Arabidopsis lyrata.
Principal Investigator: Dr. Bernadette Roche, Loyola University Maryland.
Project Description: I am studying ecological genetics of a small mustard, Arabidopsis lyrata, the lyre-leaved rock cress. This close relative of the model organism, A. thaliana, grows throughout the eastern part of North America, in a variety of habitats.  Our lab is interested in the extent to which several target populations have become genetically differentiated, and whether the genetic differences are due to local adaptation, driven by natural selection. Jug Bay is a study site, where we conduct population density and life history assessments, and collect seeds.

Project: Ranavirus in wood frog tadpoles.
Principal Investigator: Dr. Scott A. Smith, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife and Heritage Service.
Project Description: Collect 30 wood frog tadpoles at Gosner stage 27 or greater from vernal pool to test for presence of Ranavirus, an emerging infectious disease of fish, amphibians and reptiles. Tadpoles will be sent to a lab at Montclair State University (NJ) for PCR testing. Ranavirus was detected in box turtles at Jug Bay in 2008. Follow-up surveys post-sampling will follow the wood frogs to metamorphosis to observe if a die-off occurs. If an amphibian die-off were to occur in any species we would collect a sample of 8-10 dead or dying individuals of each species and send them to the National Wildlife Health Center in Wisconsin for viral culturing (to discern which type of Ranavirus is responsible). This is part of a 5-state study of Ranvirus in wood frogs, which are the most susceptible species.

Project: Monitoring the presence of ticks in birds in the mid-Atlantic region.
Principal Investigator: Dr. Eric L. Walters, Old Dominion University.
Project Description: We are sampling birds for ticks in the mid-Atlantic region. Jug Bay is one site among many where banders have agreed to collect ticks from birds that are already being processed during banding activities. Our goal is to document the species and stages of ticks that are found on birds (both migrants and residents) that are found in Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland at all times of the year. It is impossible for one PI to sample birds over a large range. We thus rely on pre-existing banding stations to help with tick collection. Jug Bay is strategically located between Fairfax County and the Chester River Field Station (two other partners on this project). Our goal is to learn more about the changing distribution of ticks, the pathogens they vector, and the hosts they use.

 

Project: The dynamic feedback between sediments and vegetation in natural and restored tidal freshwater marshes.
Principal Investigator: Dr. Cindy Palinkas and Dr. Katia Engelhardt, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science – Horn Point Lab (Palinkas), Appalachian Lab (Engelhardt).
Project Description: Our work at Jug Bay was part of a larger project assessing the similarity of a restored tidal freshwater marsh (Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens) to natural reference marshes (Dyke Marsh Preserve and Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary) with respect to the linkage of sediment and vegetation dynamics. We are especially interested in how that linkage affects the resiliency of marshes to sea-level rise, which ultimately will determine the long-term success of restoration projects. Thus, our measurements focused on parameters describing the vegetation community (species, cover) and sediment accretion at bimonthly, seasonal, and decadal time scales.

Project: The Effect of Salinity on the Growth of Native Phragmites.
Principal Investigator: Diane Leason, Graduate Student, University of Maryland.
Project Description: The goal of the study is to determine the salinity tolerance of native Phragmites. Native Phragmites will be planted and the growth of plants monitored throughout the growing season. Monitoring wells and data loggers will be installed to collect salinity, temperature, and inundation levels and frequency.  Above and below ground biomass estimates will be made by harvesting samples at the end of the growing season. Soil porewater will be collected in each plot using porewater extraction sippers and analyzed for inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus. Soil samples will be collected and analyzed for urea, ammonium, and nitrate.  A native Phragmites demonstration site will be established to facilitate outreach and education.

Project: Wetland restoration: Experimental effects of soil carbon:nitrogen ratio on growth of invasive and native Phragmites australis (common reed).
Principal Investigator: Martina Gonzalez Mateu, Graduate Student, University of Maryland.
Project Description: This is a competition experiment between native and invasive Phragmites australis. The main objective is to assess how changes in the carbon:nitrogen ratio of the soil might affect the competitive ability of native Phragmites. In particular we are interested in evaluating the potential of sawdust as an amendment to control the spread of the invasive lineage.