Northland College, Ashland, Wisconsin
Plant Community Change, Rare Plant Population Dynamics, Ecological Monitoring
COASTAL WETLAND COMMUNITY CHANGE
1) Using a long-term data set established in the 1990s by Dr. Jim Meeker, we resurveyed coastal and inland wetlands in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in 2017 to assess vegetation response to falling and rising water levels in Lake Superior. In collaboration with Dr. Matt Cooper (Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation), we incorporated our findings into a broader assessment of climate change vulnerability and adaptive capacity of the flora and fauna of these unique coastal wetlands.
2 In collaboration with the Mashkiiziibii Natural Resources department, we are contributing to long-term monitoring of the diverse coastal wetlands of the Kakagon and Bad River Sloughs. Designated as Ramsar wetlands of international importance, these wetlands are of critical local importance to the Bad River Tribe. Our surveys began in 2012 during a long-term low water period around Lake Superior and we most recently resurveyed them in 2022 after a period of record high water-levels in Lake Superior.
3) In collaboration with the Bad River Tribe and the late Dr. Jim Meeker, we used long-term monitoring plots to study the rate of non-native cattail (Typha x glauca, T. angustifolia) invasion and the impacts to native wetland communities in the Bad River and Kakagon Sloughs.
FOREST COMMUNITY CHANGE
Sarah studies long-term change in Wisconsin forest vegetation. Her dissertation focused on plant community change in floodplain forests of southern Wisconsin.
Beginning in 2022, our research team is focused on resurveying long-term 'Plant Watch' plots established in Northern Hardwood forests in the Penokees region of northern Wisconsin in the mid-1990s by Dr. Jim Meeker. Our work is funded by the US Forest Service and is truly a multi-generation Northland College project that supported many students 1996-2000 and again summers 2022 and 2023. The Plant Watch program incorporates spring ephemerals and summer flora, and we're in the process of generating analyses to report on the status of forest herbs in these forests.
RARE PLANT ECOLOGY AND MONITORING
In collaboration with the National Park Service, Sarah has studied population dynamics of rare arctic/alpine disjunct plant species in Isle Royale National Park and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Lake Superior, including state endangered, threatened, and special concern species in Michigan and Wisconsin. Sarah has also studied the Federally Threatened Amaranthus pumilus in Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout National Seashores on the Atlantic Coast.
DYNAMICS IN COASTAL DUNE VEGETATION
In collaboration with the National Park Service, we implemented a revised protocol for surveying beach and dune vegetation on sandscapes in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The aim of this work is to ultimately be able to better assess declining vegetation in this rare coastal ecosystem and to develop strategies that will address drivers of change. We will resurvey these sandscapes in summer 2023.
FIRE HISTORY IN GREAT LAKES MARITIME FORESTS
In collaboration with Dr. Jon Martin, we assessed vegetation response in known locations of historic fires caused by lightning strikes in wet-mesic to mesic maritime forests in the Apostle Islands National Lakesore. We assessed the response of Canada yew (Taxus canadensis) to recent and charcoal-dated older fires. (Photo: J. Martin)
POPULATION DYNAMICS OF EVERGREEN CONIFER SHRUBS
1) Using long-term data collected by Emmet Judziewicz in the 1990s, we resurveyed the forest understory across the majority of islands in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore to assess changes in the distribution and status of Canada yew (Taxus canadensis).
2) In collaboration with the National Park Service, we mapped and assessed the health and possible causes for decline in common juniper (Juniperus communis) on dunes in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
HERBIVORY IMPACTS TO FOREST VEGETATION
In collaboration with Dr. Don Waller, Sarah is assisting with a long-term exclosure study of deer impacts to vegetation in the Huron Mountain Club near Lake Superior and in Cedarville, MI on the shores of Lake Huron.