New alfalfa science gardens allows students to conduct authentic research on plant-insect interactions

The USU Biology Department is moving into a new building this spring, and the new building includes a Science Garden Laboratory that was developed as an extension of our lab’s Dimensions of Biodiversity NSF grant (DEB #1638768). The garden includes ~200 alfalfa (Medicago sativa) plants. This is a host plant currently used by Lycaeides butterflies, and one key area of research in our lab considers the recent and repeated shift of L. melissa butterflies from various native legumes to this introduced host plant. These specific plants were used in an experiment this past summer, and will be used in a number of experiments on plant-insect interactions run by undergraduates as part of the introductory biology sequence (led by Lauren Lucas). Some of these experiments will be conducted in collaboration with my lab group. You can read an article about the Science Garden Laboratory here.

scigarden

A picture of the garden shortly after we finished planting.

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