Ferndandez Laris, Maddie

Junior, College of Science and Health

Major: Environmental Studies

Minors: Geography, Industrial Design

Thesis Director: Christie Kilmas, Department of Environmental Science and Studies

Faculty Reader: Jess Vogt, Department of Environmental Science and Studies

Bio: Maddie’s project began as an REU at the Morton Arboretum this past summer, focusing on the conservation of the endemic Quercus Brandegeei. Maddie is interested in the intersection of design, urbanism, social justice and conservation. Maddie also works at DePaul’s makerspace, The Idea Realization Lab, on a variety of projects focused on improving access to technology and design. Maddie has also been involved in DePaul’s Urban Garden since her start at DePaul. In her spare time Maddie enjoys taking care of her plants, cooking, jogging and doing hands on projects.

Abstract: Quercus brandegeei is a micro endemic oak in Baja California Sur, Mexico. This species has been unable to regenerate successfully into adulthood, causing it to be classified as Endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Q. brandegeei shares its natural range with cattle ranchers, near ephemeral riverbeds at the footsteps of the Sierra La Laguna Biosphere Reserve. We hypothesized farm animal grazing and the arid climate are affecting the mortality of seedlings. In an in-situ enclosure experiment, seedlings were transplanted into protected plots with wire-fenced enclosures and into unprotected adjacent areas to observe the effect of farm animal grazing on mortality. Of those plots, half were placed under shade, and half open in the sun to observe the effect of microclimate on seedling mortality. Protected seedlings had lower mortality rates than unprotected seedlings. Best practice for conservation management would be to place seedlings in protected wire enclosures located under the shade of mother trees.Furthermore forest managers need to work with local ranchers to raise awareness of the overgrazing that cattle are doing in the area. Research on seedling mortality that extends past one year is further recommended for a better understanding of the oak’s recruitment process.

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