College of the Ozarks Presents at MNRC

College of the Ozarks Presents at MNRC

The Land Learning Foundation awarded funding to support the College of the Ozarks for undergraduate research projects. These projects help the students learn about research methods and analysis along with dynamic ecosystems. The students presented their findings at the February 2020 Missouri Natural Resources Conference (MNRC) with a poster. They each did a great job of explaining their projects and the importance of their findings.

Justin Westover, a student at College of the Ozarks near Branson, Missouri, conducted research on factors affecting Giant Rivercane (Arundinaria gigantea) growth in Canebrake ecosystems. He started by analyzing the effect that surface water proximity had on rivercane growth in canebrakes found near Lake Taneycomo. He collected rivercane density and stalk diameter measurements and compared them with their distance from the water. Though he found that surface water proximity has no real effect on rivercane density and stalk diameter, he will continue the study by measuring water table depth, canopy density, and by conducting a wetland delineation in the canebrakes.

Another student at College of the Ozarks, Sabrina Lator, did a preliminary study of the abundance of Ranavirus in the White River Basin. Ranavirus is a detrimental disease contracted by aquatic turtles and can severely impact turtle populations. She trapped turtles in areas near Lake Taneycomo and analyzed past samples collected a year earlier. Luckily, none of the samples tested positive for Ranavirus, indicating that there are no cases of the disease in the study sites.

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