January 31, 2000, Elizabeth Loucks
Evaluation of Allelopathy in Kudzu and Rhododendron
Mentor: Dr. Mark Boudreau


     The study of allelopathy is important in identifying organisms that maybe useful as a herbicide or pesticide in a forestry or agricultural setting.  Allelopathy refers to the detrimental effects that an organism has on another organism through the production of chemicals that escape into the environment through their roots or decomposing leaf litter.

     Two bioassay methods were used to test the leaves of Rhododendron maximum L. and Pueraria lobata (Willd.) Ohwi, for their allelopathic potential. In the first bioassay, radish seedlings, Raphanus sativus L, were grown in soil and watered with one of seven treatments. In the second bioassay, radish seeds were germinated in Petri dishes containing five milliliters of one of seven treatments. For the plant species, Rhododendron maximum, Pueraria lobata, and Juglans nigra L., two concentrations were made.  The high concentration extract contained one gram plant material to 20 milliliters of deionized water (1:20).  The low concentration extract contained one gram plant material to 60 milliliters of deionized water (1:60).  J. nigra served as a positive control, and the seventh treatment, deionized water, served as a negative control.

     When leaf weight, root weight, and seedling length were compared, the radishes treated with R. maximum 1: 20 and radishes treated with R. maximum 1: 60 were found to be significantly less (p<.05) than the H2O control.  Radishes treated with P. lobata 1: 20 were significantly shorter when seedling length was compared.  Radishes treated with P. lobata 1: 20 were significantly larger (p<.05) when root and leaf weight were compared. These results suggest that Rhododendrons do have allelopathic compounds within their leaves.  The results indicate that Kudzu may have allelopathic compounds, but the effects of those compounds may be outweighed by the high nutrient content of the leaves when tested in soil.

Feb. 28, 2000, Corey Wright
Biological Response of Bacterioplankton to Natural Solar Irradiance
Mentors: Dr. Mark Brenner, Warren Wilson College
Dr. Patrick Neale, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center


There has been evidence of stratospheric ozone depletion causing an increased amount of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) to reach the earth’s surface in the past couple of decades. This increasing UVR has been shown to have negative effects on marine organisms making it necessary to do more research on the effects of UVR on marine ecosystems.  There has been much work with phytoplankton using high-resolution analysis to develop mathematical functions for determining the effects of specific wavelengths on their production.  These analyses also have strong predictive power to determine the effects of increased UVR.  There has been little work with bacterioplankton in determining these mathematical functions. With increasing evidence of the importance of bacterioplankton in marine ecosystems, there is a need to now develop these high-resolution analyses.  Dr. Patrick Neale at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center has started working with bacterioplankton using highly variable controlled indoor incubations to develop functions.  In the summer of 1999 I set out to do outdoor exposures under natural solar irradiance to see if trends that show up in indoor incubations were also showing up under natural conditions. Uptake of radioactive 3H-Thymidine and 3H-Leucine substrates were used to measure bacterial productivity.  Samples were exposed for two and four hours around solar noon with Schott filters allowing varying amounts of UVR to pass.  The results of this work showed uptake of isotope over the second two hours of incubation was significantly less than the first two even in dark control conditions. Many experiments were done to determine the cause of the slow down. It was finally determined that the isotope was being sequestered by particulate matter making it unavailable for bacterial uptake.  There will be much further work at the Smithsonian changing experimental protocol to allow for incubations over two hours and looking at response of bacteria under natural UVR.

March 13, 2000, Kaita Frank
Tree Growth Rates and Structure of Reforested Land in Costa Rica
Mentor: Dr. Lou Weber

Abstract:  Tropical forests are diverse ecosystems that are being destroyed rapidly.  Reforestation attempts are being made by Tropical Forestry Initiative, but the organization is still in the process of gaining basic knowledge about the productivity of  the tree species used for reforestation.  I participated for one summer in a long term observational study of five permanent plots.  Tree height, diameter at breast height (dbh) and belt transect measurements were taken. Forest structure diagrams of the plots were created to visually show growth from year to year.  Amarillon, Sura, and Mayo Blanco are found to have the significantly (p < 0.05) highest mean height and dbh growth.  There was a positive correlation between mean growth rates of the plots, and tree species diversity.  Higher species diversity may be related to higher mean growth rates because of the formation of structural layers in the forest, and more efficient use of resources by the trees.  Beyond my results concerning the growth of the trees, I concluded that Tropical Forestry Initiative could gain more knowledge about the reforestation species by creating better communication between its North American and Costa Rican members.

April 3, 2000, Natalie Boddy
An Analysis of Nonpoint Source Runoff at a WWC Parking Lot
Mentor: Dr. Jim Houser

Abstract: The main objective of this study was to determine what effect the addition of  a 0.86-hectare parking lot had on the stream that runs behind ANTC and Sutton  dormitories.  The watershed for this stream was determined with IDRISI, a  Geographical Information System (GIS) program to be an 11-hectare area.   Another program, Generalized Watershed Loading Function (GWLF) was used to  predict total streamflow from the parking lot for an average year, using  weather data from the Asheville area.  The GWLF predictions were backed up by  measurements taken during rain events.  These predictions were used to  estimate a yearly loading amount for hydrocarbons and sediment.  The estimate  for yearly hydrocarbon loading was taken from a gas chromatograph/mass  spectrophotometer (GC/mass spec) reading for a sample taken during a December  13 storm event.  The calculation for concentration of hydrocarbons was taken  from this sample by comparing it to a GC/mass spec graph of a 10-ppm  standard.  The estimate for yearly sediment loading was taken from the  measurements of total suspended solids taken from three rain events.  The oil  load estimated for a one-centimeter rain event was 1.7 grams.  The sediment  load was estimated as a range from 9.9 to 3.4 kg for a one-centimeter rain  event.  The total yearly oil load was estimated at 168 grams.  The yearly  sediment load was estimated to be between

April 10, 2000, Shinichi Sumiyoshi, The Effects of Alleopathic Compound, Juglone, on Nitrifying Bacteria and Nitrogen Fixation Bacteria.

Mentors: Dr. Mark Brenner, Dr. Victoria P. Collins
Abstract:  Juglone (5-hydroxy-1,4-naphthoquinone), extracted from black walnut (Juglans nigra), has been shown to inhibit plant growth.  Juglone may also inhibit the growth of soil micro organisms, including those beneficial to plants.  This study investigated the effects of juglone on nitrifying bacteria by monitoring the conversion of NH4+ to NO3 - in soil.  The effects of juglone (3.0 mg /g soil) and sterilization were compared in a 2 X 2 factorial design with 6 replicates/treatment.  Each 5 g soil sample was incubated with 2.5 mg N (as (NH4)2SO4) /g soil for 19 days.  Nitrate was measured at days 0 and 19 by washing each sample with 30 ml of water and determining the NO3- concentration with an ion-selective electrode.  Juglone had no significant effect on soil nitrate levels.  Autoclaved soil samples 0.012 + .003 and 0.0040 + .0006 mg nitrate N at days 0 and 19, respectively (mean + S.E.M).  Unautoclaved samples contained 0.0040 + 0.0005 and 0.237 + 0.012 mg nitrate N at days 0 and 19, indicating nitrification was occurring in those samples, but the process was unaffected by juglone.

April 24, 2000, Maggie Leslie
New v. Used Oil in the Production of Biodiesel Fuel
Mentor: Dr. Jim Houser

Abstract.  Biodiesel is a clean burning mono-alkyl ester-based oxygenated fuel.  It is produced by mixing vegetable oil, lye, and ethanol or methanol through the process of transesterification. Biodiesel is less expensive, safer (with a lower flash point), and produces fewer; less toxic emissions than petrodiesel.  It is biodegradable and renewable.  One of the most positive aspects of biodiesel is that it can be prepared using the twenty-two billion pounds of excess vegetable oils produced in this country.
    The objective of this study was to determine if biodiesel produced from used sources would  produce a fuel of equitable quality as fuel produced from new sources of vegetable oil based on determinations of kinematic viscosity.  I made three subsamples of each of the three new sources (corn, soy, and sunflower)  and the three used sources (McDonalds, KFC, and Warren Wilson College Cafeteria).
     The oil, sodium hydroxide, and methanol were combined and agitated at 70 degrees Celsius for six and hours and then allowed to settle.   I performed viscosity tests on 9 subsamples of each used and new source.  I failed to reject the null hypothesis, finding no significant difference between the viscosity new and used oil samples.

May 1, 2000, Yael Domb
The Effects of Neem Oil, Diatomaceous Earth, and Soil Organic Matter on Aphid Predation of Lettuce

Mentor: Dr. Mark Boudreau

Abstract:   This experiment is a practical study which looks at several ways to control predation of soft-bodied insects on lettuce plants. The research was inspired after an observational on a lettuce farm on Kauai and was adapted for local pests and conditions. For 31 days, two cultivars of lettuce were treated with various pest controls, including neem oil, diatomaceous earth, and increased soil organic matter. Total numbers of aphids were monitered, as well as fresh and dry biomass of the shoots and roots. Both neem  and diatomaceous earth reduced the number of predators, while the lettuce grown in compost-amended soil showed an increase in marketable yield. The results of this study mat be used as reference information for lettuce growers aiming to control soft-bodied insect predation.

May 8, 2000, Laura Duffie
Niche partitioning in radish plants (Raphanus sativus L.) and bean plants (Phaseolus vulgaris L.)
Mentor: Dr. Mark Boudreau

Abstract: Niche partitioning is a phenomenon that occurs as one of three possible outcomes in the competitive exclusion principle.  Gause's principle states  that when two organisms occupy the same niche, there are three possible outcomes.  Species A will replace species B, species B will replace species A, or the two species will separate niches so that they are exploiting different extremes of the resource (Gause 1934).

The objective of this experiment was to grow beans with and without radishes in a nutrient limited environment.  The bean roots were then examined for horizontal and vertical distribution to determine if competition affected the distribution.  We wanted to see if niche partitioning was occurring in the bean roots.

Horizontal distribution was analyzed by photographing both sides of each replicate on two different days.  Each photograph was superimposed with a standardized grid, and divided into four quadrants.  The percent root occupancy was determined for each sample on each day and subjected to a non-parametric two way ANOVA.

Vertical distribution was analyzed by harvesting the root material at 2 cm intervals and drying in an oven.  These dry biomass values were subjected to a non-parametric two way ANOVA.

For both horizontal distribution tests, I found no significant difference for the competition factor, or the interaction of competition and quadrant location.  Because there was no significant difference between the interaction factors, I was unable to reject my null hypothesis. I did, however, find a significant difference between the quadrant location factors.

For the vertical distribution test, I found no significant difference for the depth factor, or the interaction factors.  I was not able to reject the null hypothesis.  I did, however, find a semi-significant difference in the competition factor.  Overall root biomass for plants grown with competition was higher than plants grown without competition.

May 8, 2000, Richard Sanders
Inventory and Fire Effect on the Soil Seed Bank Near a Stand of Ailanthus altissima on Jones Mountain

Mentors: Dr. William C. Davis, Dr. Lou Weber

Abstract: Studying the soil seed bank can help foresters predict what may come up in a stand after a disturbance like fire, storm, or harvest.  The soil seed bank is the accumulation of seeds in the soil until suitable germination conditions occur.  In the southern Appalachian mountains, Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip poplar), Morus rubra (red mulberry), and Oxydendrum arboreum (sourwood) are major tree components of the soil seed bank.  Ailanthus altissima (tree-of-heaven) is an invasive exotic tree from China.  It is a prolific seeder, stump sprouter, and root sprouter as well as being allelopathic to competition.  The objectives of this study were to 1) inventory the soil seed bank on Jones mountain, 2) to determine if Ailanthus is present in the soil seed bank, and 3) to determine the effect of fire on Ailanthus seeds.
 In October, 1999, Thirty soil samples were taken on a 12m by 15m grid near a stand of Ailanthus on Jones mountain in Swannanoa, NC.  The soil from each sample was sprinkled over flats in a greenhouse.  Over several months, the emerging seedlings were identified, counted and removed.  In February, 2000 the sampling site was burned.  Thirty samples adjacent to each of the previous samples were taken and also put in flats in the greenhouse.  Emergent seedlings from these samples were also identified, counted and removed.

In the pre-fire samples, 653,842 Ailanthus seedlings per acre, 159,479 Liriodendron seedlings per acre, 356,170 Phytolacca (pokeweed) seedlings per acre, 177,199 Taxacum (dandelion) seedlings per acre, 124,039 Lychnis (mullein) seedlings per acre, and 17,719 Sassafras seedlings per acre were found.  In the post-fire samples, 354,399 Ailanthus seedlings per acre, 17,720 Liriodendron seedlings per acre, 53,160 Phytolacca seedlings per acre, and 17,720 Celastrus orbiculatus (oriental bittersweet) seedlings per acre were found.

Aside from having an inherent competitive advantage over native species because of its pollution and stress tolerance, its ability to reproduce both vegetatively and from seed, its allelopathy, and its high growth rate, it seems that Ailanthus also has a great advantage in that it floods the soil seed bank.  So even if the seed source were eliminated and all the stumps and root systems were treated, the buried Ailanthus seed would greatly outnumber all native tree species.  Fire may reduce the number of viable Ailanthus seeds per acre, but not by much and not without reducing the numbers of all other species as well.  It is evident that there is no feasible method of eliminating Ailanthus, but perhaps with years of constant attention and treatment with fire and herbicide it can be prevented from becoming a dominant tree species on the Warren Wilson forest.

May 15, 2000, Christina E. Barrineau
The Effects of Trout Farm Effluents on Western North Carolina Fish Populations

Mentor: Dr. Mark V. Brenner

Abstract:  The effects of trout farm effluents were determined on Western North Carolina fish populations.  Three trout farms were sampled in the fall of 1999 using the three-pass DC electrofishing method upstream and downstream from the trout farms.  Salmonid abundance, length, and weight were determined for each stream reach sampled.  Other fish family biomass was also determined for each stream reach sampled.  The temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen and ammonia content were also analyzed for each upstream and downstream sampling reach.  Rainbow (Oncorhynchus mykiss), brook (Salvelinus fontinalis), and brown (Salmo trutta) trout were found in the three streams.  Rainbow trout was the only salmonid found upstream and downstream of all three trout farms.  Cyprinidae and Cottidae were the two other fish families found.  Total population and biomass estimates of rainbow trout alone and all salmonids were not significantly different upstream and downstream from the trout farms.   No significant difference was found between the pH and dissolved oxygen levels upstream and downstream from the trout farms.  There was a significant difference in the level of ammonia found upstream and downstream from the trout farms.  There was considerable variability in the data obtained from the three streams sampled suggesting that more trout farms should be sampled.