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Cornell student studies plant pathology, insect disease at Seneca Meadows Wetland Preserve

A little bit of studying is happening at the Seneca Meadows Wetland Preserve.

Jasmine S. Peters a PhD student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department at Cornell University is studying plant pathology and insect disease vectors in remnant and restored native prairie grass populations at the Seneca Meadows Wetlands Preserve.

“The Seneca Meadows Preserve is a beautifully restored and biodiverse example of eastern tall-grass prairie and makes an ideal study site,” Peters said.

She’s conducting a survey to determine the prevalence of an introduced plant virus in native grass species like big bluestem, little bluestem, and Indiangrass, and she will also measure growth characteristics of individuals of each of these species to determine how the pathogen affects the health and fitness (reproduction) of the grasses.

In 2020, Peters will place insect collection traps across the Preserve to study the insect community associated with these native grasses.

This includes determining the main aphid vectors of the disease, and the population of natural enemy insects like lady beetles and spiders that may control the aphids.

The 5-year study at Seneca Meadows is part of a larger research project Peters is conducting across New York State that examines grass species health in restored eastern prairie grasslands that are managed with prescribed burns.

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