- About Merry Lea
- Teachers & K-12 Programs
- Field Trip Options
- On Site Programs
- In School Programs
- Fee Structure
- Cancellation Policy
- Homeschool Series
- Teacher Resources
- Field Trip Options
- Undergraduate Programs
- Program Details
- Agroecology Blog
- History of Agriculture at Goshen College
- Internships and Job Openings
- Useful Links
- Agroecology Photo Gallery
- Sustainability Semester
- Ecological Field Station
- Environmental Science at GC
- Undergraduate Research
- Graduate Program
- Institute for Ecological Regeneration
- Land Management & Research
- Sustainable Buildings
- Rieth Village
- Take the LEED Tour
- Energy Monitoring
- Educational Programs
- LEED and USGBC
- News & Events
Re-introduction of the American Chestnut
Bill Minter, Director of Land Management, is cooperating on this project with the American Chestnut Foundation. The American Chestnut, a native tree commonly found in the Eastern Deciduous Forest at the beginning of the 20th Century, was virtually exterminated by the early 1950's. Their demise resulted from blight accidentally introduced from northern China. Since that time, plant geneticists have been working to breed a tree that is resistant to the blight, and a recently developed strain appears to be resistant.
Merry Lea is one of 3 sites in Indiana that was selected to grow and screen specimens that represent the Indiana ecotype. In 2001, Minter planted 211 seeds that represented four families of parent trees from Indiana that were cross-bred with selected disease-resistant Chinese chestnut. In 2008, these trees, which represent 15/16th pure American chestnut, were inoculated with the blight.
In this photo, the lab-cultured chestnut blight is cut into small plugs that will be inserted in the tree stem (June 2008)
Here the plugs of chestnut blight are inserted into 4 holes made along the stem
Trees that show resistance to the blight will be selected and backcrossed once again with American chestnut trees representing their respective families of origin.
Below Left - Inoculated trees inspected and rated for their response to blight infection (Dec. 2008). This shows poor resistance response-- given no visual signs that a callous ridge formed around the infection site.
Below Right - This show good resistance response--- given the visual signs of an elliptical callous ridge formed and is stopping the infection from spreading around the stem and thus girdling and killing it.
Lindsey Forest Growth Transects
In 1972, Lindsey established permanent plots in the oak-hickory forest on the west side of Merry Lea. He measured the diameter of every tree in each plot. The surface area in a cross section of each tree could then be determined. This measurement is known as the basal area, and the total area of all the trees along the line will give an aggregate, basal area for the growth in that location.
In 1982, Lindsey called on Goshen College student Steve Yoder to repeat the study. With the help of a grant from the Indiana Academy of Science, Yoder located Lindsey's transects and carefully repeated the measurements. From his measurements Yoder could determine how much wood had been added during the decade.
In 1992, Dr. Mary Linton and her students again conducted the study, and they compared the amount of wood added in the first decade of the study with that of the most recent ten years. The rate of wood growth was about the same.
Eric Nord, who served as Lindsey Fellow during the 2002-2003 academic year, is shown conducting the 1992 study while he was a student at Goshen College.
During the winter of 2002, Goshen students Rachel Jackson and Jolyn Rodman measured the woodland for the fourth time. They worked under the direction of Eric Nord, 2002 Lindsey Fellow, a position named in honor of Dr. Lindsey. The research team measured and tagged nearly 600 trees during the course of their work.
Analysis of the data may show whether factors such as weather patterns or levels of air pollution are affecting growth in the forest. Also, increased deer populations and the invasion of garlic mustard have changed the ecological landscape in our region since the study began. Information from previous decades may shed light on the impact of these more recent changes.
The Lindsey study is the longest study of this type in Indiana. According to Nord, such a project "takes the pulse" of the same place over a long period and establishes an invaluable base line.
Carbon Sequestration on Vacated Croplands
Bill Minter, Director of Land Management, is cooperating on this project with Michigan State University as part of the Consortium for Agricultural Soils Mitigation of Greenhouse Gases (CASMGS) www.casmgs.colostate.edu. In 2004 he planted 20 acres of prairie forbs and warm-season native grasses (“C4 grasses”) on land that had been in agricultural production for over 70 years. Prior to planting, soil samples were taken for determining the background delta 13C (carbon) signatures of the soil. By analyzing the post-C4 grass establishment delta 13C signatures over time, the atmospheric carbon sequestration in the soil, due to the growth and decay of native grass biomass, can be quantified.
Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College, P.O. Box 263 Wolf Lake, IN 46796 | Phone (260) 799-5869 • Fax (260) 799-5875