Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station [Rutgers Environmental Stewards]

Rutgers Department of Ecology Evolution and Natural Resources Research Assistents


101 Plant Physiology Building, Cook Campus  1 College Farm Road,   New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1582
Phone: (732) 932-4516     FAX: (732) 932-4517     E-Mail:

Pollinators – moths that fly by day
Clearwing moths look like bumble bees but are a different sort of pollinator. In addition to flying long distances, they hover over flowers rather than land the way bumble bees do, making them fascinating to observe. This research aims to uncover flight distances and pollen dispersal for these moths.  Also, do they prefer one flower type more than another?
Project lead: Elena Tartaglia


Watching the white butterflies chose plants
“Cabbage white” butterflies are common, but lay their eggs only on species of mustard plants.  Our woods are full of the common invasive mustard, garlic mustard.  We are exploring if these butterflies will lay their eggs on this species, if the caterpillars will live, and if the plant has become a preferred host plant, more attractive than our native mustards.  Work is netting and observing butterflies and watching their egg laying behavior in outdoor enclosures.
Project lead: Selina Ruzi


Shrub flowers and fruits: who visits?
Restoring lake shores is vital for water quality and environmental health.  What is the best way to make sustainable habitats near lakes? Our experiment tests whether single species of native shrubs perform better than mixtures.  Work is watching pollinators on flowers then recording fruit dispersal by birds of these native shrubs.
Project lead: Britany Morgan


Chestnut restoration: how do they grow?
Chestnut was once a major and important tree in our woodlands until destroyed by a fungal disease. Our experiment tests whether new hybrids of this tree can survive in natural settings.  Work is collecting data from our 270 young trees planted in gaps of the Duke Farms woods. We record dates of bud and leaf opening, growth and performance of the natives, hybrids, and Chinese chestnuts through the summer and fall, and tend to the experimental plots.  Work done in collaboration with the American Chestnut Foundation.
Project lead: Belen Sanchez


Dead wood for new life
When wood falls to the forest floor, it gets a new life as the habitat for small animals and insects, then decays and becomes new soil material.  Our experiment tests the best way to add dead wood to the forest floor habitat, in terms of amount of wood supply and type of wood.  Work is setting up the falling branch study plots and recording the colonization of these plots by invertebrate and vertebrate animals.  These data will give us new information for proper forest restoration projects.
Project lead: Christina Kaunzinger