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Abstract Detail

Teaching Section

Ostrin, Zvi [1], Trachman, Julie [1], Gillen, John [1].

Student-driven Urban Fieldwork in Lichenology.

Organismic biology fieldwork by urban community college students is subject to several constraints, including budgetary issues, travel time, and the limited science and natural history backgrounds of students, and is particularly problematical in the multilingual and predominantly minority student population at Hostos Community College, located in the South Bronx. We developed and have piloted a student-driven environmental field study that addresses these issues; the study involves mapping macrolichen populations in several areas of New York City and correlating differing levels of urban pollution with lichen species distribution and abundance. Initial implementation of this project has been successful, and the project will be expanded this summer. The pedagogical advantages of this study are manifold. Students involved in the project see the natural world in a new way: they learn that nature is all around, that patterns of ecological interaction are as close as the trees outside the college or their apartment building, and that societal choices have direct impact on the environment and human health. They learn to identify trees and lichens, and learn about symbiotic relationships among plants, fungi, and algae. They also learn in a practical hands-on way about experimental design, close observation of organisms, statistical analysis, and the craft of writing a scientific paper. Costs involved in carrying out this study are minimal, making it ideal for biology departments constrained by limits on travel, equipment, and materials. Depending on the desired emphasis, the project can focus on the algal/fungal or plant/lichen symbiosis, or on the effect of environmental factors on lichen success and species distribution.

Broader Impacts:

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1 - Hostos Community College, Natural Sciences, 475 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY, 10451, USA

community college
urban ecology
Environmental education
undergraduate research.

Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Sections
Session: P
Location: Khorassan Ballroom/Chase Park Plaza
Date: Monday, July 11th, 2011
Time: 5:30 PM
Number: PTE012
Abstract ID:708

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