Blog 4: Soil Microbial Communities In The Cloud Forest of Costa Rica

This summer in the month of August I along with other peers and Dr. William Eaton went to Costa Rica to conduct soil science research to contribute to the restoration effort done at The Monteverde Institue. The research I carried out this summer is an assessment of how different forest restoration strategies in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve have affected the soil fungi most associated with the vegetation. Specifically, I am focusing on changes in the soil fungal communities of many known plant pathogenic fungi, the ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi that attach to plant roots and the arbuscular mycorrhizal (ARM) fungi that attach and embed deeper in the plant roots. The overall goal of this research is to show how the carbon measurements and the fungal genera associated with the plant community have changed with the different restoration strategies.

unfortunately, due to the current situation with COVID-19, I was unable to complete my intended research. I was unable to receive the next-generation sequencing data from Rutgers University to complete the analysis of the samples. I was also unable to analyze the nutrient data because I don’t have access to the computer programs to do so.  Despite all of these setbacks and being unable to complete the research project, it was still an overall great experience.

I am glad that I had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica with friends to conduct research. It was on the best learning experiences I have had during my four years at Pace. I was able to gain more of an appreciation for the natural environment. I was also able to learn about field research and experience it myself. This opportunity has prepared me for my future goals of doing research and getting a Ph.D. in ecology.

Blog 3: Soil Microbial Communities In The Cloud Forest of Costa Rica

Since the last blog posts, I and the other students were planning on going to Rutgers University in New Jersy for next-generation sequencing. Unfortunately, we’re not able to attend Rutgers University due to many reasons.  Despite being unable to conduct the next-generation sequencing on our collected samples I expect the results from the next-generation sequencing sometime this week. Once I receive the results I will able to start the analysis part of the research project. The analysis portion of the research consists of using computer programs such as SPPS and ANOVA. Once this is done I will be able to start the final portion of the research project which is to interpret the data and make a conclusion. Overall, since the beginning of the project there have been obstacles that have taught me to be patient and resourceful.

Blog 2: The plans were SOILED once again!

This summer in the month of August for my second summer in a row, I along with other peers and Dr. William Eaton went to Costa Rica to conduct soil science research to contribute to the restoration effort done at The Monteverde Institue. The research I carried out this summer is an assessment of how different forest restoration strategies in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve have affected the soil fungi most associated with the vegetation. The first half of this project requires us to collect soil samples and the second half requires us to conduct DNA sequencing of the collected soil samples. 

Dr. William Eaton has arranged for me and the other students who also participated in the research project to got to Rutgers University to do the DNA sequencing on the collected samples. Unfortunately, due to timing conflicts, we have not been able to go to Rutgers University. We plan on attending the university sometime soon to do the next-generation sequencing and analyze the nutritional data.  Once the soil samples have been sequenced and analyzed I will be able to answer my hypothesis and complete my paper. Hopefully, I will be able to contribute to the conservation and restoration efforts of The Monteverde Institute. 

Blog post 1: The Effects of Different Restoration Strategies on The Carbon Cycle and Plant-associated Fungal in The Cloud Forest of Costa Rica

This summer in the month of August for my second summer in A row, I along with other peers and Dr. William Eaton went to Costa Rica to conduct soil science research to contribute to the restoration effort done at The Monteverde Institue. The research I carried out this summer is an assessment of how different forest restoration strategies in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve have affected the soil fungi most associated with the vegetation. Specifically, I am focusing on changes in the soil fungal communities of many known plant pathogenic fungi, the ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi that attach to plant roots and the arbuscular mycorrhizal (ARM) fungi that attach and embed deeper in the plant roots. These two groups are critical to enhancing vegetation growth but have been little studied in the tropics, including in Costa Rica. I will be determining if there are differences in these fungal group populations within the forest soils of 3-15 year restored sites in reserves by The Monteverde Insitute. The assumption is that if the vegetation community is changing, then there should be changes in these plant-associated fungal populations, and this should also be reflected in correlated changes in the soil organic carbon and soil biomass carbon within the different sites.

The overall goal of this research is to show how the carbon measurements and the fungal genera associated with the plant community have changed with the different restoration strategies.  With these measurements, I hope to determine if these changes reflect benefits from the restoration activities, and at what age after restoration are the benefits able to be observed. To accomplish this goal I will be collecting soils from these different restoration sites and extracting total soil community DNA. With these results, I along with Dr. Eaton and peers hope to publish a paper in a scientific journal with our findings that would be beneficial to the restoration efforts done in the Cloud forest, but also in similar restoration sites around all tropical areas.