University of Vermont

The Green Forestry Education Initiative

Climate change is the most dramatic anthropogenic forces to impact natural systems and communities. One predicted change is that precipitation will become more variable and intense over the next 100 years. To understand how this change will impact communities, Ph.D biology student Ted Hart created 49 artificial vernal ponds in the Jericho Research Forest during the spring and summer of 2007. Each artificial pond had a unique water depth and variability associated with it. The ponds were seeded with leaf litter from a nearby pond, and insects were allowed to colonize the artificial ponds. Each week Ted sampled the ponds, counting and identifying different insects. This data allowed him to see how insect families responded to different environmental changes. This research will hopefully continue at Jericho and the results will be used to created predictive models about vernal ponds will react as climate change happens.
All insect populations decreased as the variability of simulated rainfall increased. However, population response differed by family in response to water level. The family Culicidae (mosquitoes) showed a decline as water level increased, but all other families had an increase. This means that as the hydrology of vernal ponds changes, insect community will show a non-linear response. The implication is that there could be the formation of novel communities that we might not otherwise have predicted if all taxa showed a similar response.

Last modified September 14 2009 08:31 AM

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