Hiram College

The James H. Barrow Biological Field Station is home to scientific, wildlife conservation and land stewardship projects during every season.

Through these research and wildlife conservation projects, Hiram faculty conduct groundbreaking research, and Hiram students play the important role of research partners through internships and hands-on classwork. Students also work alongside Field Station staff and faculty on a variety of animal care, captive-breeding and rehabilitation projects and help to maintain the facilities and grounds through land stewardship projects. Explore the exciting projects that students, faculty, and staff collaborate on:

 

Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) Station

Sarah Mabey, Ph.D., associate professor of environmental studies

This long-term study uses mist-netting to safely capture birds to band and release them in an effort to monitor trends in populations within old growth forest at the James H. Barrow Biological Field Station. Additional habitat mapping not only allows for students to learn to identify plants but also serves to address patterns of bird populations to habitat type.  The MAPS program is an international effort that serves to provide long-term demographic data across North America.

Eagle Creek Restoration Project

Jennifer Clark, Ph.D., associate professor of biology and director of academic programs, James H. Barrow Biological Field Station

In 2013, a portion of Eagle Creek was diverted from an entrenched channel to a restored section that mimics natural meandering. Baseline data (physical parameters, water chemistry, invertebrates and fishes) were collected prior to restoration and continue to be monitored to address long-term changes post-restoration.

Snake Surveys

Jennifer Clark, Ph.D., associate professor of biology and director of academic programs, James H. Barrow Biological Field Station

Long-term surveys to catalog snake species in three different ages of grasslands using metal and plywood cover boards are completed weekly during the summer in collaboration with Professor Matt Sorrick. The dominant species collected include common garter snakes, northern brown snakes, Eastern milk snakes, and red-bellied snakes. Students also conduct independent studies to explain trends based on food availability, temperature differences under cover boards, and plant diversity across sites.

Butterfly Surveys

Jennifer Clark, Ph.D., associate professor of biology and director of academic programs, James H. Barrow Biological Field Station

Transect surveys are done weekly in order to identify butterfly species along with plant abundance and weather data. This citizen science long-term monitoring effort has been set up in accordance with the standards of the Ohio Lepidopterists Society.

Real-time Tracking and Remote Sensing Technologies for Bird Populations

Sarah Mabey, Ph.D., associate professor of environmental studies, and Ellen Walker, Ph.D., professor of computer science

This research aims to design coding and hardware systems to improve our RFID (radio-frequency identification) activity sensor system for deployment in the field and captive settings and help prepare for installation of a MOTUS wildlife tracking tower at the James H. Barrow Biological Field Station. So far we have already yielded a significantly more efficient and reliable RFID sensor system, particularly in the areas of processing software, remote data access and power management.  Students are currently developing an app for remote data access.

Remote Trace Gas Sensing using Aerial Quadcopters

Jim Kercher, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry

Research aims to 1) develop new technologies, including aerial drones and sensors to investigate air quality at both the James H. Barrow Biological Field Station and on Hiram College’s campus, 2) record real-time data in an effort to build a long-term air quality database, and 3) provide students with the training required for a career in field-based chemistry or atmospheric science.

Bat Surveys

Sarah Mabey, Ph.D., associate professor of environmental studies

We are currently developing a standardized protocol for acoustic monitoring of bats at the James H. Barrow Biological Field Station.  So far, we have collected baseline data for long-term bat monitoring as well as a foundation for development of more detailed studies on bat behavior and ecology.

Stream Restoration impacts on Juvenile Crayfish Survivorship

Jennifer Clark, Ph.D., associate professor of biology and director of academic programs, James H. Barrow Biological Field Station

This study assesses the impacts of restoration of on Eagle Creek on the survivorship of juvenile crayfish, Orconectes obscurus, using tethering assays in the restored sections compared to control sites. These experiments are correlated to terrestrial and semi-aquatic predator loads using remote game cameras, scat surveys, and animal print surveys along with evaluating fish predator abundance using electrofishing surveys.

Identifying Beech Leaf Disease

Sarah Mabey, Ph.D., associate professor of environmental studies, and Jennifer Clark, Ph.D., associate professor of biology and director of academic programs, James H. Barrow Biological Field Station

During the summer of 2018, students began to identify areas throughout the forests of the James H. Barrow Field Station where beech leaf disease is present.  Our data is submitted to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to help address locations across the state of Ohio where this emerging disease is impacting our forests.

Testing for Possible Bottle-Neck Genetic Variation Within Endangered White-winged Wood Duck Population

Brad Goodner, Ph.D., professor of biology

This ongoing study involves searching for genes that could be used to compare genetic differences found in white wing wood ducks, a critically endangered species. Genetic material has been isolated from blood samples of numerous ducks from the James H. Barrow Biological Field Station and the Sylvan Heights Bird Park in order to obtain genetic information.

Animal Care, Captive-breeding, and Rehabilitation Projects

Jim Metzinger, associate director of James H. Barrow Biological Field Station, and Rebecca Moore, animal care steward

Students and staff care for a variety of animals, including our endangered white-winged wood ducks and Madagascar teals, exhibits and educational animals in addition to growing and harvesting food and rearing insects to feed our animals.  Student-directed research to develop a hydroponics system allows us to grow a variety of sustainable natural greens.  Many and injured and orphaned wild birds are brought to our facility and are rehabilitated with the goal of releasing them back into the wild. Many Pre-vet, Biology and Environmental Studies majors gain valuable experiences throughout the entire year. During the summer, students also have the opportunity to work at Lake Metroparks, Penitentiary Glen Wildlife Center, Akron Zoo, and the Medina Raptor Center. Students and staff frequently present their research at the Ohio Wildlife Rehabilitators Association’s conference. As you enter the main building next time, check out our new successful hydroponics system that allows us to grow a variety of natural greens to more sustainably feed our resident animals.

Land Stewardship and Maintenance Projects

Emliss Ricks and Jim Tolan

Land stewards work throughout the year along with students on a variety of maintenance and land stewardship projects, such as trail maintenance, boardwalk and bridge construction, landscaping, daily facilities maintenance, new construction projects, invasive species removal, and grassland management. As we work to manage over 500 acres of property, we are always busy removing invasive species, such as purple loosestrife, goutweed, Japanese knotweed, garlic mustard and common reed and work hard to restore the tall-grass prairie between the Frohring Lab and Visitors Center and the Observation Building. Controlled burns in collaboration with both the Portage and Geauga Park Districts have allowed us to accomplish a successful restoration of this critical habitat. Students, staff and community members also harvest native grass seed and broadcast it by hand within successional old fields across the Field Station.  Additional projects to grow and install grass plugs in these habitats helps to provide a diverse community of both plants and animals.  All of the hard work by our stewards and student interns is essential as they provide on-going support for our research, education, community outreach and animal care programs.