2013 - 2014 Global Change Fellow
Where are they now?
Steve is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at Cornell University.
Statement of purpose:
I am a second year Ph.D. student at NCSU working with Dr. Chris Moorman. My research centers on understanding the impacts of renewable energy on wildlife. Currently, I am investigating the response of birds and arthropods to woody biomass harvesting. Woody biomass is projected to be a major contributor to the renewable energy quota for the southeastern United States and likely will help mitigate climate change in the region. Some of my research goals are to provide policy-makers and stakeholders with scientific information pertinent to the sustainable development of renewable energy, further understanding of the renewable energy development and wildlife interface, and encourage conservation ethic through sound management of all natural resources. As humanity faces the challenges of global climate change, all of these goals may become increasingly relevant.
Description of research:
Our regionally focused research project addresses the SECSC Mission and the SECSC Draft Science Plan Science Theme 2 Task 1 by helping understand the potential environmental consequences of harvesting woody biomass for use in green energy production. This project is unique in that it uses replicated experimental manipulations across a large geographic land base to investigate bird and arthropod response to removal of woody biomass as an energy feedstock. Six treatments were randomly assigned to 8-ha areas in 8 replicate blocks. To better understand community predator/prey relationships amongst birds and arthropods, we will mist net and crop flush birds to determine their diet. We will then compare insect abundance and diversity in and around treatments with the birds’ diet to determine if birds use areas with down wood predominantly for foraging. Additionally, we are in the preliminary stages of planning several other mechanistic studies related to arthropods. For example, we will establish an experiment in which select insects are held in terrariums under controlled environmental conditions, but each terrarium will vary in amount and type of down wood. We will determine the effect down wood has on these select insects’ predatory behavior and potentially fecundity. To better understand insect movement, specifically Carabid beetles, we will monitor different guilds of Carabids in a mesocosm experiment. Individual beetles will be placed in a 100-m2 enclosure divided into 4 treatment areas: 1) CWD piled, 2) CWD dispersed, 3) CWD piled and dispersed, 4) No CWD. Individuals will be marked with PIT tags and tracked for movements among treatment areas.