Millersville botany student, Nate Hartley ’14 and Dr. Chris Hardy, biology, have been in the field in Pennsylvania and surrounding states for two projects this summer. The first project is to locate populations of the whitemouth dayflower (Commelina erecta) that is thought to have been extirpated from Pennsylvania decades ago. The species is of ecological and medicinal importance and we are attempting to locate extinct populations in the state or to collect cuttings from regions further south for cultivation at Millersville and reintroduction to the state.
The second project is testing the accuracy of a citizen science website that Hardy developed along with Dr. Nazli Hardy, computer science, called Wikiplantatlas.org. Www.wikiplantatlas.org/pennsylvania/ and www.wikiplantatlas.org/earth/ for example, are portals to Wikiplantatlas.org through which amateur botanists report sightings of native or invasive plants.
“Such data can be of great value to study the effects of development and climate change on our flora, but only if high levels of accuracy can be achieved. We have been visiting sites of recently reported occurrences to determine how accurate the reports are. Preliminary data suggest high levels of accuracy: 87-94% of reports are accurate to species or location,” said Hardy.
In addition, Hardy is working on the description of three new species of Neotropical spiderworts. Botany student Zel Stoltzfus ’08 is doing the scientific illustrations for this work.
And, botany student Sherrie Moyer, scheduled to graduate in 2016, and Hardy have been developing a native plant garden on the grounds of our newly renovated library.
“Sherrie is a 2014 Robertson Library Garden Scholar and has been responsible for selecting and planting species native plant species in a phylogenetic sequence throughout the garden,” explained Hardy. “The concept and design of this garden is innovated in the way it integrates landscaping with the botany classroom and laboratory curricula on campus.”