May 16 2019

Watching the Wetlands

The Great Miami Mitigation Bank is a literal field day for local college students.

While University of Dayton Ph.D. student Michaela Woods is leading a research team working to restore the health of 30 acres of soil at the 360-acre site, Wittenberg University Associate Professor Dr. Amber Burgett and two of her advanced biology students are about to launch a years-long research project in the mitigation bank’s wetlands.

The Great Miami Mitigation Bank Conservation Area is one of the largest tracts of open land in Montgomery County. It was farmland for decades, and Five Rivers MetroParks began restoring it to wetlands, grassland and forest in 2010.

Dr. Burgett and her advanced biology and environmental sciences majors want to examine and help improve the biodiversity of the wetlands. So starting this spring, they’ll be on site to collect and count macroinvertebrates and amphibians and take water samples back to their microscopes to look for things like zooplankton, a fundamental organism in the food web.

The data they gather will help them guide the ongoing restoration work so that the wetlands evolve into a more biodiverse area, Dr. Burgett says. “It’s also a great opportunity for students to see what our textbook tells them about and to apply what they’re learning in the course. The students are champing at the bit to get started.”

Dr. Burgett hopes the project will continue for as long as she’s teaching at Wittenberg. “This is a good partnership,” she says. “We’re excited.”

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