A comparative evaluation of tree species in different geographical elevations in Provo, Utah

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Nature Experience Abstracts

Fall Semester 2010A comparative evaluation of tree species in different geographical elevations in Provo, Utah

Lucas Fraga de Amorim, 1305 N Canyon RD APT25 Provo, UT 84604, amorimluc@gmail.com

Abstract. Trees are all around us. Their variety is both beautiful and extensive. Much like certain species of animals prefer certain biomes, different species of trees abound in different areas depending on a variety of variables. The purpose of this study is to examine how different altitudinal elevations affect the species of trees. Data was collected on the species of trees found on the base and up a certain extent of the Uinta Mountains. The findings were mostly as hypothesized: coniferous species abound in higher elevations while deciduous trees are much more common at lower altitudes. Conclusions are reached at the end of the paper as to why such segregation occurs.

Keywords: elevation, trees, coniferous, deciduous, species

The Effect of Various Weather Conditions on the Activity Levels of Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) in Provo, Utah, U.S.A.

Brianna Andersen, Undergraduate Student, Brigham Young University, 910 N 900 E #213, Provo, Utah 84604, Email: allamericanannie@yahoo.com


The behavior of mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) is affected by different weather conditions. Their various behaviors, such as sleeping, eating, staying under cover, or wandering through open fields can differ depending on the time of year (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter), temperature, barometric pressure, precipitation, wind levels, strength of a storm, etc. Experiments were conducted in an orchard and field area in Provo, Utah, during the fall season with local mule deer to show that their behavior changes according to the weather. My hypothesis was that the mule deer would be less active when the temperatures were extremely low or extremely high, and that they would be more active when the temperature was at an average of the two extremes. I also hypothesized that the mule deer would be more active during times of precipitation than they would be during dry times. The mule deer were observed a total of eight times over a three week period. It was found that the deer were most active during Fahrenheit temperatures in the 70’s and the 30’s, and less active during temperatures from 40’s to the 60’s. They were also more active during periods of rain than they were in the snow.

Keywords: deer, mule deer, Odocoileus hemionus, weather, hunting, North American deer, migration of deer, activity patterns of deer

Influence of color in the choice of feeder by resident birds in Elk Ridge, Utah, USA (40N 1’ 9” 111W 41’ 17”)
Britney Lynda Anderson, 323 West Goosenest Drive, Elk Ridge, Utah 84651, britneylynda@byu.net

Little research seems to have been done regarding what color of birdfeeder birds prefer. By determining what color of feeder is most appealing, feeders can be manufactured that will attract birds better and promote the health and survival of avian species. I hypothesized that of black, white, or green, birds would prefer green feeders. I constructed identical birdfeeders from clear soda bottles, dowel, and hanging wire, then painted three green, three white, and three black. I then put one feeder of each color in a different location, for a total of three locations. By weighing the seed put into the feeders and then again after the feeders had been made available to the birds, I determined an amount of birdseed eaten. I compared these values to the feeders of each color, and concluded that of the three colors, birds most preferred the green feeders. I believe this was because green is the color of plants, which the birds depend on for food.

Keywords: birdfeeders, color preference, bird feeding.

The Paperbark Maple’s leaves change color in the fall. Chlorophyll gives leaves their green color, but it is accompanied by other pigments. The colors of these pigments are only visible when the process of photosynthesis shuts down because of decreasing amounts of sunlight in the fall. Experiments were conducted with leaves from Paperbark Maple trees in Provo to show how the colors change and how a loss of sunlight speeds up the process of pigment loss. This was done by experimenting on leaves with and without sunlight. Parts of the leaves were covered with foil to determine whether the color in the covered leaves would change faster than the uncovered leaves. Results showed that the parts of leaves that were covered did not change noticeably faster or slower than the uncovered leaves. This suggests that although the leaf is affected by photosynthesis and sunlight loss, it works as a whole body and not just in segments.

Keywords: Paperbark Maple, acer griseum, photosynthesis, rate of photosynthesis, leaves, leaf function

Affect of difference in altitude on changing of leaf color in quaking aspen trees (Populus tremuloides) at the Aspen Grove: Provo, Utah, U.S.A.

Mandy Anderson, 3205 Hinckley Hall, Provo, Utah 84604 Email: puppyluv820@yahoo.com

Leaves of quaking aspen trees change color in the fall, however the rate at which they change could be different depending on what elevation they’re at. Observations will be made on gatherings of aspen trees along the Aspen Grove Trail in order to compare the rates at which the leaves change and become no longer green. Three specific groupings of trees will be chosen and nearly each weekend, the approximate percentage of green leaves will be estimated. My hypothesis is that the tree leaves at higher elevations would change in color faster than those at lower elevations.

Keywords: aspen trees, altitude, leaves, fall, seasons

Environmental Influence in Tree Growth in Varying Climates and Elevations.

Andrew S. Apsley, 2089 California Ave, Apt 3, Provo, Utah 84606 Email: brown-coat@hotmail.com


The growth patterns of trees is affected by the surrounding climate and the elevation in which they live, but more research is required before we can discern between the adaptation of populations to elevation changes and population limitations due to limited air and water supplies. Experiments were conducted in Roseville, CA, Heber, UT, and Provo, UT with native tree populations to show that the type and size of trees that grow in a certain region are limited by environmental factors. Leaf and bark samples were collected from trees growing along year-round water sources, and long-term data was collected from weather databases to determine whether temperature, precipitation, and elevation levels play a significant role in the determination of how different tree species are selected.

Keywords: trees, elevation, water storage, precipitation

Observation of Aphids on Kale Plants Located in a Community Garden, Provo, Utah U.S.A.

Rebecca A. Baird, 241 E 400 N #1 Provo Utah 84606 Email: becca.baird@gmail.com


Aphids are known to be present on kale and many other leafy greens. Aphids’ breakdown plants and are seen by many farmers, gardeners, and nature lovers as a nuisance. While aphids are predators to many leafy plants, they are also used by Lysiphlebus Testaceipes wasps to as a host for the growth of their off spring. This experiment documented and observed the amount of aphids present on Kales leafs from a local community garden on three different occasions. The leaves were sampled to reflect three different stages of growth of the Kale plant new, medium, and old. The amount of infected aphids and uninfected aphids was numbered and recorded. The end of the experiment showed that all three stages of growth contained both infected and non infected aphids (except for the new leaf on day two which lacked infected aphids). However, those in the medium and old growth stages contained more aphids in general and more aphids infected by the parasite or already dead due to its effects.

Key words: Kale, Aphid, Parasite, Community Garden, Lysiphlebus Testaceipes (Cresson)

Effects of the environment compared to the effects of predisposed traits on the variation of autumnal leaf color in Eastern Cottonwoods (Populus Deltoides).

Tyler Baldridge tyler_baldridge@yahoo.com


One of the most fascinating, yet often overlooked, occurrences in nature is the variation in the color of tree leaves during autumn. There is speculation as to what actually causes this variation. I propose that it is not instigated by environmental factors. Research was done in an effort to discover whether the environment played a part, using observations of Eastern Cottonwoods. It was discovered that, even when there were variations in temperature, location, precipitation, and height of the trees involved, the leaves of the Cottonwoods always became yellow. Thus, the trait that causes Cottonwood leaves to become yellow in the fall seems to be ubiquitous across the species, rather than influenced by the environment.


Autumn, Populus Deltoides, Provo River, Photosynthesis

The relationship between elevation and plant diversity on Y mountain, Provo

Natalie M. Banks, Stover Hall, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 84604, Email: rhinemaiden@earthlink.net


Ecological models suggest that in most places plant species richness decreases as the altitude of an environment increases. I wanted to know whether or not this applied to Y Mountain in Provo, Utah. I took a stratified sample of different levels of elevation on the mountain and by identifying the different species I analyzed the level of plant species diversity at each point of elevation. I identified a total of sixteen species. The analysis showed that plant species diversity decreased dramatically as the elevation of the mountain increased.

Key Words: elevation; plants; diversity; Provo; rapoports

Varieties of Sugar Beet’s Susceptibility to Powdery Mildew (Erysiphe betae) in Nyssa, Oregon, U.S.A.

Kenzie J. Barlow, 1206 Taylor Hall, Provo, Utah 84604 Email: kenzerz_10@hotmail.com


Different varieties of sugar beets are more susceptible to powdery mildew (Erysiphe betae) and the primary goal of this project was to see the difference between varieties of sugar beets and the amount of powdery mildew that grows on the leaves. The experiment was held in Nyssa, Oregon where different varieties of sugar beets were grown. Each variety was sampled and recorded with results from each individual plant sampled. Five sugar beets from each of the three varieties were analyzed. The results consisted of the number of leaves on the plant that were and were not contaminated with powdery mildew. I was not surprised to see that more than half the leaves contained powdery mildew on two different varieties.

Keywords: sugar beets, powdery mildew, variety, susceptibility

Insect diversity compared to the base of a white oak tree to further away

AndrewJohn Bates, 155 East 8000 North, Provo, Utah 84604, E-mail ajb260@hotmail.com


Insect diversity is influenced by many factors. Elevation, surroundings and climate can affect the amount of insect richness in a certain area. The purpose of my experiment is to determine if there is a greater insect diversity near the base of a white oak or further away. I placed six pitfall traps in Rock Canyon Park 1.524 meters away from the trunk and 4.572 meters away from the trunk in order to identify a variation of insects. The results of my experiment show that the further away from the base of the tree the greater the variety of insects. The cups further from the base of the tree contained four unique kinds of insects. The cups closer contained only two, each trap shared three types of insects. A possible explanation for this result is the increase of plant diversity around the traps further from the tree.

Keywords: Insect, diversity, distance, Rock Canyon Park, white oak

Comparison of water content in non-deciduous tree needles between the base and top of the trees in Uinta National Forest: Provo, Utah, USA.

Sarah R. (Betts) Beckstead, 810 East 700 North, Provo, Utah 84606 Email: sarahrb11@gmail.com


Water content in the soil affects the growth of coniferous trees. It affects not only the life of the tree, but the number and length of the needles. Needles that are longer have more water content than needles that are shorter. Observations and experiments will be conducted around the base of the mountains in Provo, part of Uinta National Forest, comparing the lengths of the needles from the tops of the trees to the bottom. From the differences in length will be inferred the water content of the needles.

Keywords: water content, needles, length.

Color’s Impact on Birds’ Food Selection in Provo, Utah, U.S.A.


Brianna G. Beller, 562 N 400 E Apt. 36, Provo, Utah 84606

Email: brianna.beller@gmail.com



            The behavior of birds is affected by color, but more research is needed to show whether or not the effects are as far-reaching as eating habits.  Experiments were conducted in Provo, Utah, to show if birds’ eating behavior would be impacted by color.  Bird feeders of different colors were set out near each other, hanging from the same kind of trees, and were observed at the same time of day on a daily basis.  Weather conditions were also recorded.  The results were analyzed to show the correlation between color and eating habits.  According to the results of this experiment, there was not a correlation between the color of birds and the color of the feeder at which they chose to eat.  This is probably because there were not any observed birds other than those of the species Cinclus mexicanus, which all appeared to be the same grayish brown.


Keywords: Cinclus mexicanus, American Dipper, temperature, precipitation 

Analysis of different light environments on stomatal adaptation of plants

Jonathan Bjornn, Undergraduate, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84604.

Email: jonathan.bjornn@gmail.com


Many external abiotic factors can affect the physiology and anatomy of leaves. One measurable characteristic of leaf anatomy is stomatal density. This study analyzes the different stomatal densities of leaves from plants in different light exposure areas. Samples were taken from 2 sites, each differing in the amount of sun exposure they receive each day. The samples were examined and stomatal densities were determined. The results were compared to see if a significant difference exists between the two data sets. Through statistical analysis it was determined that there is a significant difference, which means that different light environments do have an effect on stomatal densities.

Keywords: Stomata; Adaptations to Light; Leaf Anatomy.

The Effect of Petroleum Spills on the Nesting Habits of Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Caretta caretta) in the Atlantic Ocean: Kiawah Island, South Carolina, U.S.A.

Heather M. Blake, 2207 Taylor Hall, Provo, Utah 84604 Email: heathermblake@aol.com


The purpose of this nature experience is to see if the nesting habits of loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) are affected by the recent petroleum spill. I hypothesized that the oil spill had a drastic impact on the traditional nesting habits in Kiawah Island, causing the loggerheads to make their nests in new locations along the East coast. Since the research I completed before going to South Carolina indicated that South Carolina’s entire coast has been affected by the oil spill, I will do further research about unaffected habitat in which the turtles have had the opportunity to establish normal nesting habits. Ample research about the British Petroleum oil spill is also required to gain a more technical background and to be able to make more accurate conclusions. After researching and learning about traditional nesting habits, observations will be conducted on Kiawah Beach in Kiawah Island, South Carolina with local loggerhead turtles to see what current nesting habits are like. I will then be able to compare my research with my observations and draw a conclusion based on the data. This process will also allow for extrapolation to other areas affected by the oil spill that contain loggerhead sea turtle nests.

Keywords: petroleum, nesting habits, loggerhead sea turtles, extrapolation

Where Salmo trutta L.(brown trout) reside in the Middle Provo River: Provo, Utah.


Alisa Blankenagel, 283 S 1050 W Provo, UT, 84601. Email: anblankenagel@gmail.com


            An experiment was performed to see whether brown trout in the Middle Provo River were more likely to reside in slower or faster moving waters. Using a single type of lure (Yozuri Minnow), fish would be caught and documented for length and location. It was found that the trout were more likely to reside in the slower waters. Out of the 10 fishes caught, 8 were from the slower waters. The reason they stay in the slower waters is most likely due to the fact that it helps the trout conserve energy. As it gets colder, trout feed less, and have lower metabolisms, causing them to have less energy and are more likely to stay in the slower waters.

Keywords: brown trout, Middle Provo River, fishing, calm belt, rapid, fast moving water, slow moving water.

Attraction to Varying Wavelengths in Moths (Lepidoptera) in Rock Canyon, Provo, Utah, USA

Austin Bolingbroke, 1916 N. 80 W. #27, Provo, Utah 84604 Email: bio@austin.bolingbroke.com


It is well known that moths are attracted to light. Light comes in different wavelengths and I tested to see which wavelength moths were more attracted to. Experiments were conducted on local moths in Rock Canyon to see how moths responded to different wavelengths. I set up lamps with varying wavelengths and by using flypaper, counted the number of moths attracted to each wavelength. Ultraviolet light attracted the greatest number of moths while red attracted the least. The data appears to show that the shorter the wavelength the more attractive the light is to moths.

Keywords: photaxis, Lepidoptera, wavelength, ultraviolet

Melissa Boman

BIO 100
Influence of Precipitation on Armadillidium Vulgare Activity


The population and activity levels of Armadillidium Vulgare are influenced by moisture content. Observational studies were conducted in various locations throughout Provo, UT to determine the correlation between precipitation levels and population of Armadillidium Vulgare. Data gained from these observations demonstrates a moderate correlation between higher levels of precipitation and higher populations of this species.

Regeneration of Earthworms (Lumbricus Terrestris) at Different Lengths in Provo, Utah, U.S.A

Matt Brandenburg 1222 J Hall, Provo, Utah, 84604. Email: mattbrandenburg54@gmail.com


Worms gross a lot of people out. Although they are gross, earthworms possess many unique attributes, one being that they can regenerate or re-grow parts of their body. I will investigate how much of an earthworm you can cut off and still get regeneration. Experimentation will be done in Provo Utah with local worms found in Rock Canyon by digging them up. The worms will be collected and placed in an isolated area so they will not be lost. Worms will be cut at different lengths and their new lengths will be measured every two days to see how each one regenerates compared to their original length over a two week time span.

Keywords: Annelid, Regeneration, Growth, Body Length, Healing

Habitat Preference of Earthworms (Oligochaeta) in Regards to Damp Dirt and Dry Dirt in Provo, Utah, U.S.A.

Emily E. Briggs, 3123 Hinckley Hall, Provo, Utah 84604 Email: briggs.emily.e@gmail.com


Earthworms (Oligochaeta) typically live in areas of moist dirt. Experiments will be done in Bicentennial Park with its local earthworms to determine their preference in regards to damp dirt and dry dirt. Earthworms found in the park will be put into a shoebox with a thin strip of cardboard still left in the center of the bottom of the box. The strip of the box will be placed in between an area of moist dirt and an area of dry dirt; habitats which I will create. The earthworms will be placed on the strip at the beginning of each trial and recordings will be made as to which habitat they choose/how many earthworms are in each side of the box each minute. Time will be plotted against number of earthworms found in each habitat.

Key Words: Earthworms, Habitat, Damp Dirt, Dry Dirt, Preference

The effect of altitude on small bird activity on Y Mountain in Provo, UT
Brodrick Brown, 2120 Building J, Provo UT, brodj92@msn.com


The birds of Y Mountain are very prevalent, and I intended to find whether the small varieties are more active in the higher or lower altitudes. I fashioned bird feeders, filled them with birdfeed, and hung them in trees at different altitudes to see which would be more heavily visited. I hypothesized that the bird feeders at the lower altitudes would have more activity than those at the higher altitudes. However, the experiment showed that the bird feeders at higher altitudes were more depleted in the end. I theorized that this may be because of the stronger presence of civilization at the lower altitudes.

Keywords: Y Mountain, altitude, small birds, birdfeed, Provo

The Correlation between California Gulls (Larus californicus) and Temperature While Eating.

Caleb Brown, 1904 N 80 W, Provo, Utah 84604, Email: calebb10@yahoo.com

In a field found slightly south of 1904 N 80 W, in Provo, Utah, California Gulls (Larus californicus) can be almost every morning gathering food from the ground. The number of these birds varies from day to day, but I observed that the warmer it was in the morning, the more gulls gathered as a general rule. This experiment tries to get a correlation between the temperature at a specific time and the number of birds in the field at the moment. To get accurate reading on the number of gulls in the field at a given time, I used a camera with a series of pictures to capture the image of the field and counted the birds from the picture. From the pictures, I could also see the number of moving birds and also hope to show that the warmer it is, the more active the gulls are. It was found that the number of birds was not a direct correlation with the temperature, but the percentage of moving birds had a direct correlation with the temperature. I thought the temperature was the main factor that caused the birds to leave the field, but I found no data that proved that.

Key words: Effects of weather on gulls, eating habitat, niche of gulls, Larus californicus

Diversity in Size, Number, and Species of Insects on a River Bank

Diana Brown, Brigham Young University, 460 East 700 North APT 2, Provo, Utah 84606



The diversity of insects depends upon a complex interaction of abiotic and biotic factors in their particular habitats. Pitfall traps were used along a bank at the Provo River to compare the variation in size, number, and species of insects at different distances from the river. Results suggest that very small worms and beetles survive closest to the river by being able to live underneath the soil, and that larger insects cannot survive in such close proximity to flowing water, although the experimental method used had flaws . This experiment reflects the immense diversity of life just within a small area on a river bank.

Keywords: soil, vegetation, elevation, dispersal power, proximity to water

The Circumference of Trees at Different Elevations at Squaw Peak and Sundance

Garrett Burr, 1346 N 90 E Orem, Utah 84057. Email: gmburr@gmail.com


The purpose of this study is to test the correlation between the circumference of trees and altitude. It will be tested primarily at Squaw Peak and Sundance. Five trees will be measured at six different altitudes, four at Squaw peak and two for the highest altitudes at Sundance. The circumference will be measured at the lowest part of the trunk of each tree, closest to the ground. Cloth measuring tapes will be used to find the circumference. The average of the five trees at each altitude will be calculated, and the results will be examined using a graph to determine the relationship between altitude and circumference. It is expected that there will be a strong correlation between the two, and trees will have smaller circumferences at higher altitudes. Height, age, and damage are not included in this study.

Keywords: measuring circumference, trees, altitude, elevation, Quaking Aspen

Leaves on a deciduous tree change color due to a loss of water content in Provo, Utah, United States

Eric D. Cecil, 1849 N 200 W Apt. 346, Provo, UT 84604.  Email: ececil2871@gmail.com

Deciduous trees can be found all over the world. However, few experiments have been conducted as to why the phenomenon of their leaves changing colors takes place.  I designed an experiment to see if water content was a major contributing factor to the process of leaf senescence. The experiment was conducted by discovering the water content of three different stages of a leaf during the process of abscission.  The water content was determined by measuring the weight of the leaves before and after heating the leaves to 200°C for 45 seconds.  I discovered that the water content was directly related to the senescence of leaves. However, the water content is only a portion as to why the leaves’ colors change.  Other factors include outside temperature, abscission, chlorophyll levels, and solar radiation.

Keywords: leaf pigment, auxin, annual precipitation, chlorophyll, autumn, fall, senescence

The growth of algae in shaded and sunny locations along the Provo River.

Samantha Chandler, 1216 Taylor Hall, Provo Ut 84604. sweetsammy64@charter.net

Algae is a plant that thrives in many bodies of water and in many wet damp climates.    Although algae grows almost everywhere in any body of water this experiment was conducted in the Provo river at the location of Lat:40:14’12N long:111-44’19(Google Maps) .  The object of this experiment is to find out in what amount of sun light algae thrives the best.  Algae growth was tested over a period of 10 weeks from September 5th, 2010 to November 7th, 2010. Three different amounts of sun light were tested. The first group had 8 hours of sunlight, the second group had four hours of sunlight and the third group had zero hours of sun light. Each group had seven tiles upon which the algae was grown. All tiles were placed at the same depth of water a meter from the shore line of the river. The algae was grown on porcelain tiles that were placed in the Provo River. At the conclusion of this project I found that the tiles with eight hours of sun light grew was the most successful in growing algae. The seven tiles that were placed in 4 hours of sun light grew less than the eight hour tiles, while the seven tiles with no direct sun light grew the least. Over all it was concluded that the tiles with eight hours grew the most algae because sun light is crucial for photosynthesis.

Keywords: algae, Provo River, sunlight, aquatic habitat, plant growth

The effect of isolation on the chirping of a field cricket (Gryllus velitis)

A. James Christensen. 280 E 500 N #9b, Provo, UT 84602. Email: ajamesc111@gmail.com


Field crickets (Acheta domesticus) create a very connected community through the use of chirping. In the evening, a cricket’s most active time of day, crickets will chirp in unison as part of this communal networking. For this experiment I separated the males of a community of crickets from the females, and then from each other to determine how their chirping behaviors are related to their relationship to their surrounding community of crickets. To do this experiment I obtained nine crickets from a cricket farm then left them together as a group for one day and observed that they chirped frequently and loudly while together. I then pulled four of the five males from the community one at a time and isolated them from one another for two days and observed that those crickets left in isolation didn’t chirp a single time. The male cricket that I left with the females continued to chirp in the absence of the other males, but the regularity and volume of the chirping decreased substantially.

Key Words: community, communication, isolation, density, behavior, correlation.

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