Forest Research: Invasive species

Michelle Grohe ‘13, Research Intern

Major: Biology, Environmental Studies Minor

Internship: The Nature Conservancy, Northampton, MA

This summer, I had the opportunity to work as a research intern at the Nature Conservancy in Northampton, MA. My primary responsibility was collecting data from floodplain forest research sites in the Connecticut River basin. Throughout the summer, we traveled to sites in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

Our research focused primarily on recording the presence of invasive species - such as Oriental Bittersweet, River Grape, and Multiflora Rose - in tree crowns. I witnessed how invasive species can completely change the landscape of a forest. I experienced both the highlights and challenges of field research.

Research in the forest is unpredictable, whether it is difficult weather conditions, working among thorny invasive species, or walking knee deep in a mucky marsh. However, it comes with rewards, such as canoeing down a beautiful river with breathtaking views, seeing bald eagles and other wildlife, or learning how to identify different tree species.

Required travel for the internship let me see parts of New England that I have never seen before. I also assisted with data entry on Access and learned different methods of data quality control. Additionally, on a few occasions, I helped with floodplain restoration efforts by participating in elm plantings, as well as locating large elms that have survived Dutch Elm Disease.

Overall, it has been a rewarding experience that has shown me various aspects and processes of ecological research and conservation efforts.