Underground Ecology, or How I Learned to Love Dirt

Staff Report

Peyton Smith, Ph.D. student in the Department of Soil Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will present underground ecology, pertaining to the research of former faculty member Dr. Teri Balser. His program will be given from 7-9 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 18, at Burpee Museum of Natural History, 737 N. Main St., Rockford.

Balser’s dissertation assessed the importance of microbial community composition for ecosystem functioning and found that “when we disturb the soil or change the environment, soil microbes responsible for processes will be affected, and the composition of the microbial community will shift as organisms better suited to the new environmental conditions grow and compete.”

We know the characteristics and needs of the trees, shrubs, forbs and grasses we have planted in our landscapes, but do we also know the nature of the soil in which they grow? The composition and character of our soil influences the growth of plants within it. It also affects how plant life responds to global changes. As we strive to include more native plantings in our yards and communities, we are disturbing the soil and changing our community.

Join Burpee to learn the effects these changes can have on the ecology of our own communities and learn to “love the dirt,” too.

This program is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Lenae Weichel at (815) 282-5482 or lenae@weichel.org.

From the Aug. 3-9, 2011, issue

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