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Wyckoff Conducts Ecology Research at Herman's Neimackl Lake Park

Posted by Jenna Ray on Friday, Mar. 15, 2013

Peter Wyckoff, associate professor of biology, and three of his former students recently published the second academic article including data collected at Niemackl Lake Park in Herman. Wyckoff, whose areas of expertise include community and ecosystem ecology, believes the park to be a valuable educational resource.

Niemackl Lake Park is maintained by Pam and David Nachbor, in partnership with the Herman Park Board. According to Wyckoff, both the Nachbors and the park board have been “extremely helpful over the years.” The site is utilized by several Morris classes during the academic year.

“The forested park lies at the juncture of three lakes,” says Wyckoff. “I take my classes there on field trips, as do Margaret Kuchenreuther [associate professor of biology] and Heather Waye [assistant professor of biology]. It’s a classroom extension. We are grateful to have a forested site where we can work.”

The purpose of Wyckoff’s work at the park is to study the impacts of invasive buckthorn on the native bur oak forest ecosystem. He and his students are in the process of measuring the responses of buckthorn and bur oak seedlings to various environmental conditions. Students are also looking at invasive earthworm species as they move into the area.

Wyckoff acknowledges that the site offers not only a convenient venue for teaching students about forests, but also a source of useful data for student-faculty research collaborations. His most recent paper—written with co-authors Ruth Patten Greiman '06, Tony Krueger '08, and Logan Luce '11—is his second publication to include data collected at the park. A third article has been submitted for peer review. Wyckoff also presented data collected at the park with Jeff Aday ’12 at the 2013 American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) R5 Regional Conference.

“This has been a successful site for biology research. It’s involved a lot of students, and we’re doing real stuff that gets published.”

This kind of work has a number of local implications. Wyckoff believes that people in the region are interested in buckthorn and disturbed by the how the species is thriving. He hopes that, through continued cooperation at Niemackl Lake Park, he and his students can continue to conduct the kind of research that promotes understanding of the region’s forest ecology.

Photos: Students conducting research at Niemackl Lake Park in the fall of 2012.