Who We Are
Current Graduate Students
Jennifer L. Chandler, PhD Candidate
Ecological effects of forest disturbance onthe herbaceous understory and on American ginseng in central Appalachia. Modern forests are products of the ecological succession that occurs after natural and anthropogenic disturbance events. Timber harvest is a common type of anthropogenic forest disturbance that has occurred throughout central Appalachia in the past, which continues to occur presently, and which is predicted to continue long into the future. Historically, timbering was so widespread that in 2002, it was estimated that 85% of all forests in the United States were less than 100 years old. The fact that natural populations of American ginseng are still found in the wild after extensive timbering suggests that ginseng are capable of surviving such disturbances. My research explores the effects that varying intensities of natural and anthropogenic forest disturbances have on the ecology and demography of ginseng. Timber harvest is of particular interest, as the timber in many of the same forests that were logged in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s are now at merchantable sizes and are harvestable in the coming years.
Jessica B. Turner, PhD Candidate
The Root of Sustainability: Investigating the relationship between medicinal plant conservation and surface mining in Appalachia. Appalachian culture is rooted in resource extraction. This extraction can be sustainable, such as medicinal plant harvest, or unsustainable, such as surface mining for coal. My research investigates the relationship between these two significant components of Appalachian culture. In order to conserve ginseng, we need to 1) develop practical land-management strategies to reintroduce ginseng to degraded areas; 2) understand if individuals in Appalachia prioritize conserving ginseng habitat and if they are practicing sustainable harvest practices; 3) investigate the economic relationship between ginseng and surface mining. Understanding these components can provide information to landowners and ecologists about the likelihood of success of conserving ginseng in terms of surface mining.
Amy M. Hruska, Masters Student
The dispersal ecology of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.).
I am interested in understanding how American ginseng is dispersing across the landscape, what animals are involved and how far seeds travel. Specifically, I am interested in understanding how forest canopy composition may influence the type of animals dispersing American ginseng using motion activated game cameras. You can see some of the visitors that have been captured so far! In addition, I am also interested in whether or not small mammals and songbirds, some of our most frequently captured visitors, are seed dispersers or predators of American ginseng.