Undergraduate Carmela Buono explores the effects of invasive plant species

Photo: Carmela Buono presenting her poster

I presented my poster Impact of Forest Structure on Watershed Performance at the Ecological Society of America's 100th Annual Meeting in Baltimore Maryland.

Carmela Buono graduated in May 2016 in Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources and continued working with Dr. Myla Aronson (Dept. Ecology, Evolution & Natural Resources) throughout the summer.This is her second summer working with Dr. Aronson and Dr. Steven Handel and she mainly worked out of the Hutchinson Memorial Forest, New Jersey.

Photo: wineberry berries

A handful of wineberry berries collected during field work in the Hutchinson Memorial Forest. Despite all of the thorns, the fruit is very popular among birds, small mammals, and undergraduate students.

After completing an Aresty Research Assistant project with Dr. Jean Marie Hartman, looking at impacts of urbanization on watershed performance, Carmela developed a strong interest for invasive plant species. This past summer she started developing an honors thesis with Dr. Myla Aronson. My George H. Cook Honors thesis title "A Study of the Biotic and Abiotic Effects of Rubus phoenicolasius in a Mixed Oak Forest" looks at the abiotic and biotic effects of Rubus phoenicolasius or more commonly known as wineberry in a mixed oak forest. Wineberry is a thorny shrub common along road sides and edges of forests. It was initially brought to the United States from Asia for cultivation but it escaped and forms very dense thickets that could out compete native plants. My research thesis is assessing how wineberry affects natural systems by looking at how it affects decomposition rates, light availability, species richness, and the survival of tree seedlings.

The best thing about her research experience? "Spending time outdoors and being able to appreciate natural spaces first hand!" Being able to participate in hands on research has motivated Carmela to pursue a Graduate School Program in Ecology.