Summer Research

* Student(s): Sarah McNeil , Krista Marran , Ashley Kuenzi
Advisor: William Pfitsch

Title: Effects of tree removal on lupine populations in the Rome Sand Plains


Wild lupine (Lupinus perennius) is necessary in the life history of the Frosted Elfin, an endangered species of butterfly in New York State. Lupine populations are rapidly decreasing in the Rome Sand Plains (RSP), specifically with increased populations of white pines. This study tests the hypothesis that these trees limit the availability of light to the lupine and thereby hinder its growth. In 2002 we identified 18 white pine trees that appeared to be influencing the lupine below them. In the summer of 2002 measurements quantified the ground cover and lupine cover surrounding each tree. In the winter of 2002-2003 nine randomly selected trees were cut, which considerably increased light availability to the ground layer. In the summer of 2003 we returned to quantify the effects of this treatment. We found no statistically significant difference between cut and control plots. There, was, however, a difference between years; in 2003 there was a greater percentage of lupine cover, as well as a greater number of lupine flowers stems per plot. We conclude from our findings that while the effect of the tree removal treatment did not present itself this year, the effect of year demonstrates that weather patterns, or other such factors that change from year to year, do influence lupine population in the RSP. In the future we expect to see an effect of tree removal on the lupine population in the RSP.

Student stipend support provided by the Sergei S. Zlinkoff Fund for Medical Education.