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Abstract Detail

Teaching Section

Spitz, Lauren [1], Zambell, Christopher B. [1], Sweeney, Patrick W. [2], Struwe, Lena [3].

FoRC: Flora of Rutgers Campus as an educational research project.

Student participation in floristics at the university level is essential for the longevity and expansion of the botanical field, excellence in teaching focused on plant diversity, and increased knowledge to prevent "plant blindness" in future generations, but floristic knowledge and course options have been decreasing at the college level. Creating a campus flora through hands-on outdoor inventory and fieldwork is one engaging and effective way for students to experience botany first-hand. Such a campus flora project can increase students' knowledge of local plants, heighten appreciation of the natural world and their university location, open their eyes to "see" plants everywhere, as well as encourage students to work cooperatively - all while having fun. During the fall of 2011, we challenged 32 Rutgers University graduate and undergraduate students to create a campus-wide floristic survey of all wild and naturalized plant species on Cook and Douglass campuses (317 acres, New Brunswick, NJ, USA) over a 4-month period. Students used traditional tools such as printed floras, hand lenses, and rubber boots, as well as modern technology in the form of their own cell phones with instant GPS, cameras, and web access to upload data to the flora website. Over 270 species of plants were found, which represents more than 10% of New Jersey's plant biodiversity. We sampled from as many habitats as possible, including a protected mixed hardwood forest (Helyar Woods), patchy wood lots, weedy parking lots, ponds, campus lawns, and fallow garden plots. The species checklist, with photos of all observations, is maintained online with free global access as part of the Symbiota database portal housed by Consortium of Northeastern Herbaria. Our flora project is the first of its kind that we know of, and can serve as an educational model for other schools that want to use their campuses as living laboratories. This project can also create a long-term data set if ongoing classes continuously collect data. In our class, students gained essential botanical skills in field identification, inventorying, and data management, while also contributing to a large data set that will be used for future research in areas such as ecology and evolution, plant biology, management of invasive species, horticulture, landscape architecture, and climate change. They also loved finding new species and exploring the botanical diversity right outside the classroom.

Broader Impacts:

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Related Links:
FoRC: Flora of Rutgers Campus checklist
Consortium of Northeast Herbaria

1 - Rutgers University, Graduate Program of Ecology and Evolution, Foran Hall, 59 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, NJ, 08901, USA
2 - Yale University, Peabody Museum of Natural History, PO Box 208118, New Haven, CT, 06520, USA
3 - Rutgers University, ROOM 237 FORAN HALL, ROOM 237 FORAN HALL, 59 DUDLEY RD, NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ, 08901, USA

Botany Education.

Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Sections
Session: P
Location: Battelle South/Convention Center
Date: Monday, July 9th, 2012
Time: 5:30 PM
Number: P011
Abstract ID:674

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