Session A: 9AM – 10:30AM

Science. Session A – Poster Presentations, Ballroom, Union

Location: Ballroom, A. Ray Olpin University Union

Vineyard site selection using GIS
Jason Cowley, Utah Tech University

Faculty Mentor: Zhenyu Jin, Utah Tech University

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

Selecting suitable land for a vineyard is important for sustainable grape production. This project used two approaches to using GIS to identify areas that are suitable for wine grape growth in Washington county, southern Utah based on criteria from several sources (e.g., experts’ knowledge, literature review). Several different GIS layers were used in this study including Digital Elevation Model, Soil Type, Land Ownership, Vegetation (DVNI), and climatic variables. The first method used overlay analysis to create a binary suitability map, while the second method used fuzzy logic to create a suitability map which ranges from 0 to 1, where 0 represents non-suitable and 1 represents most suitable. The maps were evaluated by comparing the location of current vineyard sites with the suitability map, and the results revealed that less than 10% of the suitable areas were already used for vineyards.


Local soil conditions impact rates of Populus Fremontii trunk growth and leaf litter decomposition more so than variances in source population or climate legacy
Jake Berryhill, University of Utah

Faculty Mentor: Jennifer Follstad shah, University of Utah

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

Riparian zones, which account for less than 1% of total land area of the western U.S., are particularly threatened by climate change. Drought, severe heat waves, and other pressures have altered riparian biotic assemblages threatening the survival of the critically important foundation species, Populus fremontii. We present a method to evaluate the impact of genetic differences on survivorship and growth rates of 1,024 P. fremontii trees sourced from 16 sites spanning 3 distinct climate zones (categorized as ‘cold’, ‘medium’, or ‘hot’). Trees were planted as cuttings in a research garden at the Bonderman Field Station in Rio Mesa – a ‘cold’ climate zone – in 2014. Additionally, we measured leaf chemistry and rates of litter decomposition for 72 trees representing individuals from 6 sites spanning 3 climate zones, as inputs and degradation of organic matter are energy and nutrient subsidies to soil invertebrate and microbial communities within riparian corridors. Measurements of trunk diameter at the root crown and canopy collar along with observations of active foliage growth were collected and documented to measure the growth and survivorship of trees from each source population. Decomposition rates were determined by measuring mass loss of leaf litter left to decompose over the course of a year. We infer that differences in survivorship, growth, and leaf decomposition by source population or climate zone would indicate that genetic differences or climate legacies are important factors for understanding the persistence of P. fremontii to rapidly shifting environmental changes. Our analysis of leaf litter decomposition aims to expand on existing knowledge of the critical importance of leaf litter to the energy and nutrient cycles within riparian ecosystems. Collectively, our results aim to add to growing evidence that genetics should be considered when selecting trees for restoration projects in different climate regimes.



The Arduino Platform as a Cost-Effective Field Data Collection Tool
Jake Olvera, Southern Utah University

Faculty Mentor: Jacqualine Grant, Southern Utah University

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

As conservation efforts are ramping up, the need for accurate biological field measurements becomes apparent. These measurements are usually collected using multiple specialized, expensive devices. For example, soil characteristics (temperature, humidity, and salinity) can be measured using the Aquaterr EC-350 at a price point of $1350. Similarly, the Kestrel 3500 Weather Meter measures humidity, pressure, temperature, wind speed, and wind direction for the price of $200. We used readily-available sensors that communicate via I2C controlled by an Arduino Uno Rev3 development board to create a single, compact device. This device can measure pressure, altitude, temperature, humidity, soil temperature, and soil humidity for under $100. A similar approach can be taken for other projects to create custom equipment that is accurate, cost-effective, and modular.


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Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research 2023 - Program by Office of Undergraduate Research is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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