Steven to Use Virginia Academy of Sciences Grant to Study Plant Diversity

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Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Janet Steven has received a grant from the Virginia Academy of Sciences to study plant species composition in nearby Mariners’ Museum Park. The loss of surrounding farmland, the introduction of invasive species and greater human usage, among other factors, may have caused significant changes in the park over time. Steven and graduate student Kelli Shelton will catalog the current plants and compare them with a list compiled in 1934 to gain a better understanding of the changes.

“Comparing the plant species present in the Mariner’s Museum Park in 1934 with the species there today provides unique insight into changes in vegetation that typically go undetected in natural areas,” says Steven. “The particular species that have appeared and disappeared can help us identify the factors that lead to vegetation changes in forests set aside as nature preserves or protected areas.”

Steven teaches plant biology, experimental design and conservation biology. She earned a PhD from the University of Wisconsin.

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