BSC Office of Communications

News from the Hilltop

April 16, 2008

Birmingham-Southern visiting biology professor and students take inventory of plant species for local environmental organizations

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. —Birmingham-Southern College Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology Peter Van Zandt and 16 BSC students are working this semester taking inventory of plant species at local sites maintained by the Freshwater Land Trust and Ruffner Mountain Nature Center.

Students in Van Zandt's field botany class are conducting an inventory and categorizing vegetative cover types on several preserves owned and managed by these organizations, which is helping to augment the existing species lists and better understand the conservation values possessed by these properties.

“BSC students are, without a doubt, some of the best and brightest students in the country, and the work they and their professors do in collaboration with FWLT is of great benefit to our organization,” said Brian Rushing, director of land conservation for the FWLT, which now maintains its offices on the BSC campus. “Our relationship provides a valuable research and learning experience for them and at the same time helps us tremendously in achieving our conservation mission.”

The goals of the floristics project are to characterize the spring flora and habitat of a particular location. Students have paired up to work at eight different sites to conduct an extensive field project including choosing a site, establishing 10x10 meter quadrats for sampling the sites, sampling plots and identifying plants, recording data, documenting species, researching field sites, estimating richness and sampling adequacy, and building a Web page to reflect the culmination of their work on the project.

BSC students participating in the class project are: Claire Anderson, a junior undecided major from Louisville, Miss.; David Barnhill, a senior biology major from Chelsea; Stephen Browne, a sophomore undecided major from Northport; Richard (Reese) Feist, a sophomore undecided major from Indian Springs; David Frantz, a senior biology major from Manchester, Tenn.; Katherine Gregory, a freshman biology major from Marietta, Ga.; David Hilgeman, a junior math major from Memphis, Tenn.; Jefferson (Ty) Keith, a senior biology major from Trussville; Ron MacBeth, a sophomore undecided major from Pensacola, Fla.; Cory McGee, a sophomore undecided major from Mobile; Rebekah Pine, a junior urban environmental studies major from Huntsville; Ashlyn Rogers, a sophomore biology major from Hoover; Peter Shashy, a junior biology major from Montgomery; Virginia Sturgis, a senior urban environmental studies major from Marion; Eugenia (Lee) Wammack, a sophomore biology major from Belden, Miss.; and Terza Weston, a junior biology major from Clarksville, Tenn.

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