Research News

The Wei Lab Welcomes Jessica LaBella

September 2020 – Jessica LaBella began a year-long internship in the Wei Lab this month thanks to funding from the R. Henry Norweb, Jr. Fellowship for Scientific Research in Horticulture. Jessica graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College with a B.S. in Molecular Biology and a minor in Chemistry this May. Her research at Holden will focus on the effects of the rhizosphere and environmental microbes on plant physiology and plant-to-plant interactions.

The Research Department Welcomes Ph.D. Student Claudia Victoroff

September 2020 – Claudia Victoroff is a new Ph.D. student in David Burke’s lab and was welcomed by the Research Department this month. She holds a Master of Science degree from the State University of New York and will continue her research on mycorrhizal fungi during her Ph.D., which is jointly hosted by Case Western Reserve University and Holden Forests and Gardens.

Claudia Victoroff and her field crew in the Bartlett Experimental Forest, New Hampshire

The Stuble Lab Welcomes Emma Dawson-Glass

September 2020 – Research Specialist, Emma Dawson-Glass, was welcomed by the Stuble lab. Emma’s research will focus on community assembly, species dynamics, and ecosystem function.

Rory Schiafo and Emily Galloway Head to Graduate School

August 2020 – The Research Department said goodbye to Emily Galloway and Rory Schiafo, who each began their graduate careers this month. Emily is in a Ph.D. program at Miami University and Rory is in a Ph.D. program at Northwestern University and Chicago Botanic Garden. We wish both of them well, as they go on to study restoration, and can’t wait to watch their scientific careers unfold.

The Burke Lab Welcomes Mary Pitts

August 2020 – Research Specialist, Mary Pitts, was welcomed by the Burke lab. Mary will research beech leaf disease (BLD) as part of a collaborative project with the U.S. Forest Service.

Mary Pitts

The Stuble Lab’s Research Highlighted in Science Magazine

August 11, 2020 – Katie Stuble was quoted in Science magazine. She was interviewed about the work she has done with ants, which disperse the seeds of forest wildflowers. This article in Science (found here) followed a presentation Katie made at the Ecological Society of America meeting last week (all-virtual meeting this year). Katie’s presentation was based on the work she and some of her summer research interns, including 2017 Norweb Fellow Sergio Sabat Bonilla, have conducted over the last few years in Stebbins Gulch.

Members of Holden’s Research Department Attend Remote Conferences

August 2020 – This summer, scientific societies opted to hold their national meetings virtually and research from Holden was presented. Scientist Na Wei attended the Botanical Society of America’s remote annual meeting from July 27-31. She presented on “Polyploidy confers ecological advantage in wild and synthetic Fragaria” during the symposium session “From Genes to Distributions: physiological ecology as an integrator of polyploid biology.” The Ecological Society of America held their annual meeting from August 3-6 and Holden scientist Katie Stuble and PhD candidate Sharon Danielson remotely attended. Katie Stuble presented work exploring forest biodiversity and processes across Holden’s patchwork of land use history. Her talk was titled “Ant-mediated see dispersal in today’s forests: How agricultural abandonment and earthworm invasion are driving seed dispersal .” Sharon Danielson presented her research on variability in tree communities between urban and rural forests in her talk, “Assessing tree community structure in urban remnant forests and rural forests.”

Latest Newsletter Released by the Rhododendron Research Network

July 2020 – Read the latest news in Rhododendron research in the July 2020 edition of the Rhododendron Research Network Newsletter (found here). This network, led by Holden Scientist Dr. Juliana Medeiros and Dr. Erik Nilsen of Virginia Tech University, has attracted and connected prominent researchers from around the globe for collaborative projects, including researchers in China, the US, Canada, India, Japan, the UK and Germany, and connected them with community science volunteers based both in the American Rhododendron Society and at Holden. Please visit to learn more about how the Rhododendron Research Network is advancing Rhododendron horticulture, research and conservation, and increasing awareness of genus Rhododendron as one of Earth’s biodiversity treasures.

David Burke and Adam Hoke Co-Authored a Study on Beech Leaf Disease

The Burke lab is continuing research on beech leaf disease and had another paper published. This paper was led by Sharon Reed who is with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. David Burke and Adam Hoke are co-authors on the study, as we contributed data from Holden’s lower Baldwin research plots on nematode population size. This paper appeared in Forest Pathology and can be found here.

Holden’s Leach Station in the Akron Beacon Journal

May 28, 2020 – Pictures of Connor Ryan, Holden’s Rhododendron Collections Manager, and some of the sites around the David G. Leach Research Station were part of an online piece by the Akron Beacon Journal. Take a look at the pictures here.

Katie Stuble is a Co-Author on a Study Published in the Journal Ecology

May 26, 2020 – Katie Stuble co-authored a paper titled “Year effects: Inter-annual variation as a driver of community assembly dynamics” for the journal Ecology. The published study explores the substantial, but rarely acknowledged, impacts of interannual variability on the outcomes of community assembly (the process by which new plant communities come together). You can read the article here.

The Research Department Welcomes Summer Interns

May 2020 – Holden’s Research Department is hosting local students for our summer intern program. Due to COVID-19, the majority of our summer research is being conducted in the field and in a socially-distant manner. The summer research projects range in topics that include the Malus apple microbiome, forest restoration, phenology of spring ephemerals, tree response to their urban environment, and the expansion of red cedar range.

Interns social distancing in the field

Holden Researchers Participate in Climate Change Webinar

April 15, 2020 – Holden’s Rhododendron Collections Manager, Connor Ryan, and Research Associate, Sarah Kyker, participated in a webinar run by Oberlin College. The webinar presented information about the significance of trees and forests in our daily lives and in the broader context of climate change. Holden researchers joined individuals from the Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment (LIASE), as well as the Departments of Environmental Studies, Biology, East Asian Studies, and Geology at Oberlin College to discuss the importance of trees and climate change. A recording of the webinar can be viewed here.

The Medeiros Lab Welcomes Randy Long

March 2, 2020 – The Medeiros Lab at Holden Arboretum welcomed new postdoctoral researcher Dr. Randy Long, who will work on a project funded by the National Science Foundation examining the physiology of Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana). This interdisciplinary project is being conducted in collaboration with researchers at three local universities, Kent State, Ohio State and Denison, to better understand the relative importance of factors like climate, seed dispersal and fire regime in driving the westward range expansion of this long-lived woody shrub into grassland ecosystems.

Dr. Randy Long at Holden Arboretum

New Study on Planting Order during Restoration published by Katie Stuble

February 2020 – Holden scientist Katie Stuble published a new paper in the journal Diversity, exploring the impacts of planting order on restoration outcomes. Planting species early on in restoration can be used to promote target species. However, Stuble’s research found that, in some cases, planting restoration species at different times, as opposed to all at once, can leave restored areas vulnerable to invasion by non-native species. This suggests that, in some cases, establishment of non-native species may be an unintended consequence of using such staggered plantings of species as a restoration tool. The article is available here.

David Burke Gives Webinar on Beech Leaf Disease

February 26, 2020 – David Burke, Holden’s Vice President for Science and Conservation, gave a webinar on his lab’s research on beech leaf disease (BLD). This two-part webinar began with Dan Volk of the Cleveland Metroparks first giving information about BLD. David provided content for the second half and discussed current data from his lab that are helping to find the cause of BLD. The webinar was hosted by the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) University, which is a collaborative project between Purdue University, Michigan State University, and The Ohio State University that originally distributed information on emerald ash borer. More recently, EAB University has expanded their scope to distribute information on more pests and diseases. Check out the webinar here.

Research on BLD at Holden includes inoculating buds with live nematodes and monitoring the trees to see if they develop the characteristic interveinal darkening of symptomatic leaves.

Research from Holden on Beech Leaf Disease Published in Forest Pathology

January 2020 – Two of Holden’s researchers, David Burke (Vice President for Science and Conservation) and Adam Hoke (Research Specialist), were co-authors on articles about beech leaf disease (BLD) that were published by Forest Pathology. One article (found here) details the leaf microbiome on symptomatic and asymtomatic leaves and buds and identifies bacterial taxa that are more commonly associated with infected leaves. The other article (found here) describes the association of infected beech trees with the nematode species Litylenchus crenatae mccannii, a subspecies of L. crenatae, which were originally described in Japan. This newly described subspecies is currently believed to be necessary for disease symptoms.

Holden Research Welcomes Na Wei

January 2020 – The Research Department is excited to welcome our new staff Scientist, Dr. Na Wei. Wei’s research investigates the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms that confer plant adaptation to the environment and focuses on the interactions between plant phenotype, genotype, and environment. More information about Na’s research can be found here.

Dr. Na Wei at Holden Arboretum

The Medeiros Lab Welcomes Weijia Xie

November 2019 – The Medeiros Lab welcomes Weijia Xie, PhD student at the Yunnan Flower Research Institute and Yunnan Agricultural University, to complete a one-year visiting scholar position. Weijia will investigate the relationship between leaf heat tolerance and floral traits of Rhododendron species in the Holden Arboretum collections. Weijia will also work with Dr. Jean Burns of Case Western Reserve University to learn phylogenetic comparative data analysis techniques.

Picture of Weijia by a Rhododendron

Holden Researcher Teaches Lab at Lake Erie College

December 2019 – Holden Research Associate, Sarah Kyker, was recently invited to Lake Erie College (LEC) as a guest lab instructor for Dr. Deborah Schulman’s Microbiology class. Over three weeks, the LEC students extracted total DNA from soil samples, used an established biotechnology method called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to amplify bacterial species living in the soil, and learned how to collect and analyze the data with the widely used software package R. The results of the study are on the screen in the picture below. The analyzed soil samples are being used to compare new and old growth forests at Holden, however the techniques that the students learned can be used to analyze communities of microbes living anywhere, including in and on the human body.

Dr. Deborah Schulman and Dr. Sarah Kyker pictured with the PCR results produced by the Microbiology students.

Holden Highlighted in a Science News Article

Nov. 14, 2019 – Science magazine ran an article about the mysterious beech leaf disease and the scholars that are helping elucidate a cause. Holden Scientist and Vice President for Science and Conservation, David Burke, is one of these scholars. Burke, along with Holden Research Specialist Adam Hoke, worked on a greenhouse study where nematodes were added to leaves of beech trees and then monitored for symptoms. Currently, the nematode species Litylenchus crenatae, is the best candidate for the cause of the beech leaf disease. The article, by Gabriel Popkin, can be accessed here.

Holden Arboretum Selected as a Landslide 2019 Site

Nov. 6, 2019 – Holden Arboretum has been selected as a featured site in the Landslide 2019: Living in Nature program. For 2019, this program highlights climate change and its threats to our natural world. Holden was selected as our natural areas and collections highlight the threat that climate change poses to our natural world. The work also helps to highlight our ongoing climate change research and work as a leader in environmental stewardship. More information about the Landslide 2019 program can be found here.

Holden Researchers Publish Paper on the Long-Term Influences on Soil Fungi

Oct. 10, 2019 – In a study by Holden Scientists David Burke and Sarah Kyker, with CWRU Professor Jean Burns, soil fungi in Stebbins Gulch were profiled over five years. Monthly soil collections were made between 2006 and 2011 at three soil depths for a total of 1080 soil samples. Interestingly, air and soil temperature had little effect on the fungal taxa found at each time point. Instead, fungi were strongly influenced by soil chemistry, especially phosphorus availability and soil moisture.  This highlights the fact that climate change could have a greater effect on soil fungi if climate change alters precipitation and soil moisture rather than just temperature. The article was published in the October issue of the journal Ecosphere and can be accessed for free here.

David Burke sorts bags for soil collection on a snowy collection day in February 2007.  A picture of one of the six long-term plots in Stebbins Gulch in December of 2006.  Sarah Kyker collects a soil core under snow cover in January of 2010.

Left: David Burke sorts bags for soil collection on a snowy collection day in February 2007. Middle: A picture of one of the six long-term plots in Stebbins Gulch in December of 2006. Right: Sarah Kyker collects a soil core under snow cover in January of 2010.


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