Measuring the Benefits of Ecosystem Modeling: Step One

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By Isabella Gorman
10th grade student,
Charlottesville Renaissance School

The students of Charlottesville’s Renaissance School made
their second visit on Monday, March 7, to the IX Art Park to begin
studying the Center for Urban Habitats (CUH), native ecosystem installation. 

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Minutella, science teacher, and Dr. Becky Wilbur, dean of academics and
mathematics teacher, for the past month the students have been conducting
research on habitat structure, soil chemistry, and plant and invertebrate
species.  During this time, they developed methods to analyze soil
characteristics and identify plant and invertebrate diversity and abundance.
On March 7th, they started the next step of their research by beginning
to sample and analyze their control and sample plots at the IX Park. 

The students split into three
groups, each assigned to one of the three research areas: invertebrate
identification and analysis, sediment characteristic analysis, and plant and
fungi identification and analysis.
Once at the park, the students
checked to see if the original plots that had been installed at the beginning
of the school year were still undisturbed after the winter.

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They then began laying down
traps for insect collection, sampling soil and sediment, and documenting and
collecting the different plant species found in both the native installation
test plots and control plots. With the guidance of their teachers, the students
will use the time before their next visit to study the collected samples and
plan the next step in the research process. The students will be visiting the
park weekly during class time to continue their work. Stay tuned for more
information!.