Environmental Science Students Expand Stream Ecosystem Research

by Jenni Hodges, Public Relations Writer

Environmental science students at Cedarville University will expand their research of a Greene County project to restore Massie’s Creek later this month. Christian Hayes and CaShawna Kennedy will build on previous studies to measure the project’s effect on the native habitat.

The restoration covered 2.2 miles of the stream’s north fork and was completed in November 2009. The primary goal was to reduce fertilizer runoff and improve the water quality for the towns downstream, including Cedarville and Xenia. Last spring, students in assistant professor of biology Mark Gathany’s biology research course studied the project’s effect on fish populations, comparing the restored section with the unrestored south fork. Several students presented this research at a meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Portland, Ore., in August, and senior Rebecca Wadman of Georgia monitored the project in the fall.

Now Hayes and Kennedy, seniors from Washington and Ohio, will expand on this research to measure the restoration of the stream’s native ecosystem. Hayes said he will cover a larger area in less time by using an electrofisher to temporarily stun the fish. Kennedy will perform chemical analysis of the same location.

Gathany said this project offers an opportunity for practical application of class discussion and prepares students for scientific work after graduation. He said studying the restoration also lets students see how a community solves problems together.

The students have shared their results with the Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District. Administrator Don Leeds said he hopes the project continues to offer a learning opportunity for students interested in the environment. “I think this project shows where production agriculture and environmental concerns of our resources can work together,” Leeds said.

Hayes and Wadman plan to present their research at Cedarville’s 4th Annual Research and Scholarship Symposium on April 10.

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University attracts 3,400 undergraduate, graduate and online students to more than 100 areas of study. Celebrating 125 years of inspiring greatness, Cedarville is a Christ-centered learning community recognized nationally for rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and leading student satisfaction ratings. Visit the University online at www.cedarville.edu.