Fern Ecology Research – Aditya Arora, 16

My interest in plant biology gave me a topic for my project, and I decided to create a comparative project discussing two species of ferns. I felt like ferns were a plant class that I did not have much experience with, and I wanted to demonstrate my findings as well as having the opportunity to learn about something that is usually overlooked. In hopes of doing original research, I was motivated to find something new. From my findings, I want people to understand the effects of urban development of these native plant species. It is often that non-native plants are introduced to our neighborhood that are not exactly beneficial to other species as they spread and prevent native species from thriving. This was not a result that I expected from conducting the project, and this awareness could be extremely important for our wildlife. However, I did go on with the project and went through a process. First, I had to locate both species in an area nearby. Then I had to look into the habitat that the ferns were in. Afterwards, I wanted to record any abnormalities. Next, I recorded other plant life and their relation to the ferns. Then, I tried to identify interactions animals had with these ferns. Lastly, I compared the data and unsurprisingly, the two ferns were very similar in terms of their interactions as they were both summer dormant. They were pretty much lifeless, but that does not mean that they lacked interaction. They were still contributing to their ecosystem and they had a niche, but it did not require many interactions during the dry summer. They represent most plant life, which means that animals have to look harder for food. This itself has a large effect on an ecosystem. The fact that they were dry also made them difficult to find, making it very time-consuming. I spent several days looking for just a couple of specimens. I believe the most enjoyable part for me was actually locating them and then finally having something to display. Overall, it was an unexpected result for the project; I did not reveal something amazing, but it was still enjoyable.

Hear Aditya speak about his project here: