Potential Project Description for 2010-11


Title: Statistical Methods in Ecology with Application to Tree Growth
Domain Expert: Kathy Shea, Biology

Since 1990 students working with Dr. Shea have studied the growth and survival patterns of deciduous and conifer trees planted as part of the St. Olaf Natural Habitat Restoration Program. Little information is available on early growth patterns of trees. In 2010 research students will be collecting data on tree size and mortality of trees studied over a 20 year time span in a maple-basswood restored forest. Maple-basswood forests are the dominant forest type in southeastern Minnesota and the type of forest we want to have in most of out forest restoration areas. Longitudinal data will make it possible for growth curves to be established for six to eight different species. Statistical models could be developed to compare actual and predicted growth patterns. Statistics and ecology students will work together to better understand variation in tree growth patterns.

These data will be useful in evaluating the success of the restoration project and in making recommendations for future restoration projects. Measurements of tree height and diameter allow us to compare growth patterns of different species and evaluate conditions under which each species grows better, thus contributing to a better understanding of the process of early forest succession.