Professor studies trees on campus

Ever wonder what those small silver tabs are on the bottom of the tree trunks around campus?

A project headed by Dr. Dennis Williams, a botany professor in the biology department, numbers every tree on campus. Lauren Grawey, a senior majoring in environmental science, assisted Williams in this ongoing project.

“The project was started to develop a manual for one of Dr. Williams lab classes,” Grawey said. “The manual allows students to look at a tree and be able to identify it.”

The information provided by the manual is not limited to just the type of tree, but also the genus, species and more.

“We have identified every tree on campus,” Grawey said. There are 950 trees on campus.

As additional aspect of the project, Williams and Grawey plotted a Global Positioning System (GPS) point for every tree with a hand held receiver. They then measured the diameter of the tree and logged this information into the receiver.

“We took that information and put it on the base of a laptop,” Grawey said. “We use Geographical Information System (GIS) software to load the information.”

The GIS software provides an aerial photograph of the points onto a map of the campus.

“Physical Plant wanted the manual to help them,” Grawey said. The manual would allow Physical Plant to identify trees in a situation where there might be a disease. For example, if a few pine trees get a disease in a particular area, Physical Plant can use the manual to find where the other pine trees are located and protect them from the same disease.

Pine trees are the majority of the trees on campus.

In addition, when Physical Plant cuts down a tree they contact Williams and give them the number so that they can keep the manual up to date.

The research by Williams and Grawey has already been used by the university in assessing land. The university checked Williams and Grawey’s map when considering to build.

The manual has been completed, however it has not been distributed yet. “We need to bind the manual,” said Grawey.

The manuals will be given to Physical Plant, Williams and Grawey. The manuals will also be available in the library.

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