Faculty Advisor

Aaron Shoults-Wilson

Graduation Year

2018

Location

Room E101, Center for Natural Sciences, Illinois Wesleyan University

Start Date

21-4-2018 10:00 AM

End Date

21-4-2018 11:00 AM

Description

Soil science is an essential part of ecosystem and agriculture health but is unfortunately not a priority in most non-science students’ education. To counter this, the goal of this study was to determine the best protocol for a general education science lab that would use soil microcosms to explore nutrient cycling from leaf litter decomposition. The experimental procedure was designed to test different combinations of soil organism type, organism density, and leaf density in simple Tupperware microcosms. The best combination was defined as a combination that met the following traits: significant decrease in leaf litter mass and high nutrient flow from leaf litter to the soil. Statistical testing revealed that high densities (10-11 individuals) of pillbugs (Armadillidium) combined with medium (2 g) or low (1 g) leaf litter densities produced the largest change in leaf litter mass and nutrient flow into the soil. The lab protocol can be used in any general science course to teach non-science students the importance of soil health, and the relationship between soil, nutrients, and soil fauna.

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Apr 21st, 10:00 AM Apr 21st, 11:00 AM

Determining Soil Science Lab Protocol to Measure Soil Fauna Influence on Nutrient Flow from Leaf Litter to Soil

Room E101, Center for Natural Sciences, Illinois Wesleyan University

Soil science is an essential part of ecosystem and agriculture health but is unfortunately not a priority in most non-science students’ education. To counter this, the goal of this study was to determine the best protocol for a general education science lab that would use soil microcosms to explore nutrient cycling from leaf litter decomposition. The experimental procedure was designed to test different combinations of soil organism type, organism density, and leaf density in simple Tupperware microcosms. The best combination was defined as a combination that met the following traits: significant decrease in leaf litter mass and high nutrient flow from leaf litter to the soil. Statistical testing revealed that high densities (10-11 individuals) of pillbugs (Armadillidium) combined with medium (2 g) or low (1 g) leaf litter densities produced the largest change in leaf litter mass and nutrient flow into the soil. The lab protocol can be used in any general science course to teach non-science students the importance of soil health, and the relationship between soil, nutrients, and soil fauna.