The KSU Field Station is a land of research opportunity. Check out our new "Summer Days" blog below as Michael Blackwell shares information and resources on different aspects of the KSU Field Station, including the current research projects conducted by KSU faculty.  

7/24/2020, 11:29 p.m.

Like many local birds, the KSU Field Station's European starlings have wrapped up the breeding season after a busy spring of laying eggs (a) and Sarah Guindre-Parkerraising young (b). Dr. Sarah Guindre-Parker monitored over 40 nesting attempts at the KSU Field Station and other sites, where she checked nest boxes weekly (c), measured and weighed the eggs (d) and chicks (e), took small blood samples to assess the health of birds, and collected hours of video recordings at the nest to document parents delivering food to their chicks (f).

Now, undergraduate student researchers are diving into video analysis and planning their upcoming lab work to see what this season's data reveal about the behavior and health of urban versus rural starlings. For example, KSU senior Kaitlyn Brown is hard at work analyzing videos to understand how much time parent starlings spend incubating their eggs. She is interested in testing the hypothesis that being a bird parent closer to the city is harder than parenting in rural environments. She is scheduled to present her findings at the Animal Behavior Society's virtual conference occurring next week. 

Are you interested in participating in this type of animal behavior research? The good news is this is the beginning of a long-term study, where Dr. Guindre-Parker and a team of students will monitor the nest boxes and study starlings (g) every spring over many years. Get in touch to find out about future availabilities on her team!

Starlings Post

7/16/2020, 1:50 p.m.

The American chestnut once dominated the eastern half of the U.S. and was considered one of theAmerican chestnut tree most important forest trees throughout its range. However, as the result of an invasive fungal pathogen, the first half of the 20th century saw chestnut blight devastate this tree species, wiping out nearly all trees in the U.S.

With support from The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF),American chestnut tree Dr. Kyle Gabriel of the BioInnovation Lab and William Blackwell of the KSU Field Station are exploring methods to restore this critically endangered tree species.

By utilizing beneficial microorganisms, they aim to further improve the survivorship and health of plants that have been bred for their resistance to the blight. Additionally, they have also begun a collaboration with TACF to plant an American chestnut test orchard at the field station to evaluate whether the field station has suitable growth conditions for developing future orchards to support restoration efforts.

American chestnut tree in the field

Photos by Kyle Gabriel

7/9/2020, 11:04 a.m.

When the summer heat really gets unbearable, many garden plants will struggle, but cherry tomatoes  and eggplants (as shown in the photos) are sun-loving plants in the Solanaceae family and will thrive.

It's not exactly clear how the term Solanaceae was coined, but it's often attributed to the resemblance of the flowers in many of the Solanaceae family to the sun. Edible species within the Solanaceae family include tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and potatoes.

Sunflowers, as the ones growing at the KSU Field Station, also love the extra sunlight of summer as the name implies. Sunflowers are best suited for insect pollination (as shown in the photo with a bee in the center of the flower). Sunflowers attract insects with their bright color and large surface area which provide a platform for the bees to sit on while enjoying the nourishing nectar.

Fruits of Summer

7/2/2020, 3:45 p.m.

Operations Manager Michael Blackwell shares his knowledge of chanterelle mushrooms which are growing wildly at the KSU Field Station. Blackwell always recommends that people meet up with experienced mushroom foragers and get hands on experience.

The Mushroom Club of Georgia is one way to get involved. Blackwell is a member of this club, which is one of the largest mushroom clubs in the country too. The club holds regular monthly meetings and also have guided mushroom walks. For more information, please visit: