Authors: Nadia Bukach*, University of Richmond, Kristine Grayson, Biology, University of Richmond, Andrew Davidson, Life Sciences, Virginia Commonwealth University, James Vonesh, Center for Environmental Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University, Todd Lookingbill, Geography and the Environment, University of Richmond
Topics: Higher Education, Biogeography
Keywords: community-based learning, education, macroinvertebrates, teaching lab, spatial analysis
Session Type: Poster
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download
This project is a collaborative effort to create engaging, place-based curricula for undergraduate and high school students in an urban ecosystem of the James River in Richmond, VA. The student experience begins with a GIS-based data collection protocol that places them at the heart of their city, in emerged bedrock of the James River. An upriver dam constructed in the early 20th century exposed a network of rock pools that create unique but interconnected aquatic habitats that serve as the research focus. Our teaching resources include videos and geospatial field tools that guide students from neighboring private and public institutions as well as citizen scientists and local high school students through data collection. ArcCollector and Survey123 apps help students accurately and efficiently capture physical landscape and macroinvertebrate community diversity attributes. The approach offers streamlined and accessible tools that can be scaled or adapted according to changing research or teaching interests. Students use the field data in ArcDesktop or ArcPro environments to address spatial research questions, such as how to quantify rock pool isolation and clustering or the influence of distance to landscape features on biodiversity. This system combines local community-engaged learning with spatial analysis, field data collection, and applied biogeographic theory.