The Volusia Sandhill Ecosystem restoration provides a range of opportunities for faculty and undergraduate research.
As a teaching landscape, the sandhill serves as a laboratory for courses in biology, environmental studies, geography and honors.
Students in Flora of Florida (BIOL 305) discussed their work on the sandhill at a luncheon with author Janisse Ray, Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow.
Honors students are developing a seed library, which will include native Florida wildflower seeds as well as heirlooms from the Hatter Harvest Garden.
Flora of Florida students created a water feature for use by birds, mammals, amphibians and insects. With the addition of a water feature, bird houses and pollinator garden, they applied for, and were granted, certification as a Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.
Baseline Data for the Restoration
As an ongoing restoration and museum without walls, the landscape provides an opportunity for monitoring progress in the growth of individual plant species as well as changes in this small ecosystem.
Geographic information systems (GIS) students map the growth of the trees to produce a survey map of the restoration.
Ben Chase (center) extended his interest in native pollinators by trapping and identifying insects in the sandhill landscape and throughout Stetson University's DeLand Campus.
Ethan Royal conducted visual bird surveys on the landscape, in other areas of campus, and at two different intact sandhill sites.
Faculty and Undergraduate Research
The emerging sandhill ecosystem and its native plant screenhouse provide an on-campus laboratory for faculty research in a range of disciplines, from plant ecology to sustainability. Faculty work with undergraduates to develop projects for senior research, internships and independent study.
Faculty-directed undergraduate research in the native plant screenhouse.
A biology senior studies the effects of soil pH and soil microbes on seedling growth of three perennials in the Asteraceae family in a summer independent study.
Student interns have worked through the Gillespie Museum to research and develop programming on the longleaf sandhill ecosystem.