Bronxville High School senior Rory Christian and junior Izzy Rice are participating in the Northeast Natural History Conference, held virtually from April 15-18. The professional scientific conference brings together researchers, natural resource managers, students and naturalists to share results from research projects and learn about natural history topics.
Christian will share her research, titled “Impact of Japanese Knotweed on Eastern Red-backed Salamanders and Macroinvertebrates,” and Rice will present her research, titled “Observance and Eradication of Incised Fumewort in the Bronx River Watershed.” Both students conducted their research as part of science teacher Stephen Kovari’s Bronx River Research II class.
“This research project has been an incredibly productive opportunity for both students,” Kovari said. “Rory and Izzy faced many challenges along the way but did a fantastic job of persevering and performing impactful work during an especially tough year. Both projects raise further questions and have a very clear impact on the local community. These students have embodied the dispositions of the Bronxville Promise and, while neither project is done, have fulfilled a major milestone and should be proud of their work.”
Christian’s research focused on how invasive species, such as the Japanese knotweed, may impact local fauna like red-backed salamanders.
“It was an exciting research question with huge implications, at a time when invasive species are becoming more widespread, new invasive species are emerging, and the loss of biodiversity accelerates,” Kovari said. “Her concern for amphibians is noteworthy, as they are in decline worldwide. Her original work aimed to focus, in part, on the chytrid fungus, responsible for much of the decline in salamanders.”
Rice’s research focused on a newly emerging invasive species, the corydalis incisa or incised fumewort. She conducted outreach and research in a multifaceted approach to assess the plant's impacts, with the ultimate goal of its removal and eradication from the Bronx River watershed.
“By conducting outreach via social media, Izzy hopes to get help from the public in monitoring and searching for fumewort, through a platform called iNaturalist, where the public can document and upload observations of the species they see,” Kovari said. “This will help managers target areas for eradication, and will help scientists understand how the plant spreads, and the extent to which it has become established. Izzy's project has truly gone beyond research, and has incorporated the applications of her work, as well as education and citizen science.”