RESEARCH

Plant Community Change, Rare Plant Population Dynamics, Ecological Monitoring

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COASTAL WETLAND COMMUNITY CHANGE

1) Using a long-term data set established in the 1990s, we resurveyed coastal and inland wetlands in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore 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 are incorporating 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 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.

3) In collaboration with the Bad River Tribe, we assisted in establishing long-term vegetation monitoring transects in the Bad River and Kakagon Sloughs in 2012 and resurved them in 2022. These coastal wetlands are designated as Ramsar wetlands of international importance.

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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. Our research team is currently focused on resurveying long-term 'Plant Watch' plots established in Northern Hardwood forests in the Penokees region of northern Wisconsin in the mid-1990s.

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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.

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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. 

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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)

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DYNAMICS IN COASTAL DUNE VEGETATION

In collaboration with the National Park Service, we implemented a revised protocol for surveying beach and dune vegetation on 14 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 sandscpes in summer 2023.

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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.