BACKGROUND: A long-term ecological experiment provides a central theme to the biology curriculum at ECU and the foundation of multiple course-based undergraduate research experiences. Located in a wetland habitat at ECU’s West Research Campus (WRC), the experiment was originally designed to examine the effects of anthropogenic nutrient addition and disturbance on plant communities. Since 2004, Dr. Carol Goodwillie has mentored undergraduate students in conducting project design and data collection. Since 2014, the Peralta Lab has examined how nutrient enrichment influences plant-microbe relationships and microbial-climate change feedbacks on wetland carbon storage. In 2020, with support from ECU's Water Resources Center and collaborators in Geological Sciences and Engineering, we started monitoring soil moisture and groundwater levels to characterize hydrologic processes.
2002: Project funded by NSF DUE Adaptation and Implementation grant
2003: Experimental site burned, bushhogged and disked, treatments initiated
2004: First plant data collected
2014: Peralta Lab begins soil microbial and chemical analyses
2019: Peralta awarded NSF CAREER - Microbial controls on wetland carbon stabilization and storage
2020: ECU team awarded NSF IUSE - Team Experiences and Mentoring Strategies for Undergraduate Research (PI Joi Walker)
2020: Water Resources Center, Geological Sciences, and Engineering begin monitoring hydrologic processes