Davidson College student researches stream health in the DK8 Nature Preserve
Davidson College Biology and Environmental Studies major Andrew Brantley ’21 is using the stream restoration project behind the Davidson K–8 School as a test site, assessing if efforts to reduce erosion caused by stormwater runoff may benefit the abundance and biodiversity of invertebrates. DLC is reviving and enhancing the natural area behind the school for outdoor learning.
Aquatic invertebrates play a big role in the breakdown of leaf litter in streams, as well as provide a food source for the organisms above them in the food chain, thereby making them an excellent bioindicator of stream health.
Andrew said, “We’re using artificial leaf packs to simulate naturally occurring layers of leaves in the stream where insect larvae often colonize. By comparing levels of biodiversity and abundance upstream, within the restoration area, and downstream, I am able to see how the restoration affects invertebrate populations.”
The results of the study will clarify relationships between restoration projects and natural systems, and could lead to more stream projects like the one planned along the West Branch in the area of Fisher Farm. Brantley, who loves fishing, hiking, and hunting, hopes to continue his passion for wetland ecology by pursuing a postgraduate degree in environmental management. DLC looks forward to using the results of this study to further our education efforts with DK8 students.