2010 BioMaPS Projects



Student Fellows:  Callie Wilson (Biology/Education) and

                                  Erin Keeney (Wildlife Biology)

Faculty Advisors:  Dr.  Terry Derting (Biology) and

                                    Dr.  K. Renee Fister (Mathematics & Statistics)


This group studied the energetic cost of immune function in old-field mice (Peromyscus polionotus).  With increasing environmental disturbance and stress, wild animals may be less able to mount costly immune defenses leading to increased occurrence of disease and infections.

old-field mouse



Student Fellows:  Morgan Geile  (Conservation Biology) and

                                  Jessica Whitaker (Mathematics/Biology)

Faculty Advisors:  Dr. Howard Whiteman (Biology),

                                    Dr. Emily Croteau (Biology) and

                                   Dr. Chris Mecklin (Mathematics & Statistics)

This investigation involved developing molecular markers for parentage assignment to determine reproductive success in salamanders.  The tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum nebulosum) and mole salamander (Ambistoma talpideum) are two species that exhibit facultative paedomorphosis, an envrionmetally-cued polyphenism whereby depending on the environment experienced during larval development, individuals either metamorphose into terrestial adults or become paedomorphic, branciate morphs.  Since little data exists on the fitness payoffs to alternative morphs, microsatellite markers will be used to determine parentage of particular morphs, trace inheritance of morphs within families, and follow patterns of reproductive success.


Student Fellows:  Samantha Erwin (Mathematics) and 

                                  Aron Huckaba (Mathematics/Chemistry/Biology)

Faculty Advisors:  Dr. Kate He (Biology) and

                                    Dr.  Maeve McCarthy (Mathematics & Statistics)

 Alternanthera philoxeroides, more commonly known as alligator weed is
an invasive species indigenous to South America.  With its rapid
invasion of south east United States water ways, understanding the
invasiveness of this plant species is both important and imperative.
Utilizing experimental growth data obtained over the summer of 2010,
matrix analysis is used to model the growth of alligator weed.  These
matrices are population projection models whose eigenvalues represent
the growth rate of alligator weed in its different stages of the life
cycle.  A high growth rate is a key feature of successful invaders.
Residuals were calculated and sensitivity analysis was performed to
test the accuracy and importance of the models.  The result of this
study indicates that in competitive aquatic conditions, which are the
most realistic environment for alligator weed to reside in, the
earlier life stage plants are the most sensitive to control measures.

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