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Rachel Mclaughlin



2018 BS Agriculture, The Ohio State University 


coadvised with Kelli Hoover



Black cherry is an economically valuable timber tree that is also of great ecological value for Pennsylvania forests, as it serves as the host plant for a range of insect species. However, there are concerns over reduced seed production and viability, which is potentially due to a number of factors, including pollination deficits.

I am characterizing the pollinators of black cherry trees, as well as examining the impacts of landscape, weather, and microclimate conditions on black cherry pollination.


Previous Research

Previously, I investigated the effects of cadmium contamination in soil on pollinator behavior and pollination services. Urban agriculture has grown in popularity across many cities throughout the world. Many of these cities have industrial pasts, resulting in soils contaminated with heavy metals such as lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd), and copper (Cu). Heavy metals are known to adversely affect human health, but their effects on the pollinators providing critical pollination services to urban agriculture are largely unknown. I placed mature sunflowers grown in the greenhouse in three soil treatments (uncontaminated potting media, and media with either 10 ppm or 50 ppm Cd) into the field and recorded pollinator visitation. Additional flowers were either hand pollinated or pollinator excluded to compare seed set to those naturally pollinated. I found that flowers grown in contaminated soil had reduced seed set, but not due to a loss of pollination services. The behavioral component is currently undergoing analysis.



2018 ESA North Central Branch Student Travel Award

2017 Will C. Hauk Endowment Research Grant