Service-Learning: Conservation Biology at Jekyll Island
Authors: Shawna Armbruster, Becca Bartkovich, Brittni Brown, and Sarah McInnis
Faculty Supervisor: Dr. C. Tate Holbrook
During the fall semester of 2015, Conservation Biology (BIOL 4020) participated in service-learning at Jekyll Island, GA. The goal was to assist the Jekyll Island Authority (JIA) with conservation efforts. Conservation biology is the practice of documenting biodiversity, investigating anthropogenic effects on ecosystems, and developing methods to prevent the extinction of native species. Jekyll Island holds Georgia’s largest public golf resort. Unfortunately, the manicured and monoculture turf grass landscapes, typical of golf courses, can diminish local plant biodiversity, create habitat fragmentation, and alter water and soil chemistry. The JIA conservation program has recently banned mowing on some sites located near golf courses. This was done to potentially increase native plant biodiversity. We investigated the impacts of the moratorium on mowing by collecting data from both mowed and un-mowed sites near a golf course. Two un-mowed sites were chosen for data collection. Data was also collected from an adjacent mowed site to use as a control. Quadrants were used to visually observe percentage of native and non-native plant cover. Percent cover and species richness were observed and recorded. The results showed that the un-mowed sites contained both a higher species richness and percent coverage of native plants when compared to the control site. The results supported a recommendation to continue the moratorium on mowing in certain areas to allow for an increase in native plant richness and abundance.