Computer Model, Pollen & Urban Forestry Mashup at GSEF

Urban forest management and related tree management (arboriculture) are usually focused on the macro scale… the tree or group of trees, a tree part, or maybe a defect.  Although cognizant of the less visible components of these sciences we seldom pursue the microscopic on a day-to-day basis.

oak-2-up

So when judges for the 2014 Georgia Urban Forestry Innovation Award at the Georgia Science & Engineering Fair (GSEF) in Athens read “Adhesion of Pollen Grains to Surfaces: Computer Model” by Shwetha Mudalegundi (South Forsyth High School) they approached with interest… but cautiously!

Shwetha’s project, in the Computer Science category, investigated the physical and functional characteristics of pollen in angiosperms and gymnosperms and then developed a model that could predict (or rank) pollen adhesion to surfaces (like your car’s windshield) based on the physical characteristics.

Her findings: angiosperms (like oak) adhere more readily than gymnosperms (like pines).

While this project is several steps away from practical application by urban forest managers we can see implications for this type of modelling that include:

  • Heightened awareness of pollen variability in species
  • Tree species selection
  • Human health (pollen allergies)  issues
  • Tree genetics and development of cultivars with “designer” pollen
  • Facility management

A next step would be to model specific, common urban tree species to investigate the variation in adhesion within the broad classification of angiosperms and gymnosperms.  Coupled with a model (or understanding) of wind dissemination of pollen by species, these investigations could provide new insights for urban tree management in high risk areas like schools, hospitals, dense population centers, or locations with sensitive surfaces.

This Special Award is co-sponsored by: The Georgia Urban Forest Council, the Georgia Forestry Commission, and the USDA Forest Service (Region 8 U&CF and Southern Research Station SRS-4952 Urban Forestry South).  This is the third year for this award.

Shwetha’s teacher at South Forsyth HS is Melissa Smith.  Judges included: Eric Kuehler (USDA FS), Andrew Saunders (Athens-Clarke County), and Creamor Scarborough (Georgia Forestry Commission).

What’s next for urban forestry?  Autonomous robots that climb trees and take foliage samples or search for EAB activity?

Visit Urban Forestry South to learn more about this award.

The Future of Outdoor Recreation in the South

Southern Research Station 4952 social scientist Michael Bowker looked at the future of outdoor recreation in the south in the recently published Southern Forest Futures Project Technical Report. The research report covers the 13 southern states and examines possible futures and how they might shape southern forests.

FLhiking

Bowker’s research focused on projecting natural resource-based outdoor recreation out to the year 2060. The study finds that outdoor recreation of southern adults is projected to increase by 2060, with hiking to increase the most by as much as 113 percent.

For a complete list of the key findings of this report, visit: http://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/futures/technical-report/08.html#introduction

InterfaceSouth’s Kids in the Woods Updates

InterfaceSouth has partnered with the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation, Alachua County School District’s Westwood Middle School and Camp Crystal Lake, the City of Gainesville Kids in the Woods logo final IS verticalParks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, and the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department to develop a “Kids in the Woods” project at Westwood Middle School in Gainesville, Florida.

Some of the main objectives of the project are for students to become more aware and connected to their local environment and exposed to careers in science and natural resources, as well as increased teacher participation in providing outdoor learning experiences for students. Click here to visit our new site dedicated to this project and other related InterfaceSouth activities.