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Interdisciplinary Research
and Education

The UC Field Center's research focuses includes:
  • Animal and plant populations

  • Environmental processes (ecological, atmospheric, and hydrological)

  • Fieldwork in geology, geography and archaeology

Current Research

Pond with trees surrounding


The Great Miami Ground-Water Observatory (GMGWO) ​ Researchers: Mohamadreza Soltanian, David Nash (PI), Amy Townsend-Small (Co-PI) and Ishi Buffam, UC Geology and Biology ​ The observatory continuously monitors the flow and biogeochemistry of groundwater in the Greater Miami Buried Valley Aquifer System (GMBVAS). Funding for this project has been awarded by the Duke Energy Foundation and the Miami Conservancy District.  ​ This project uses a server housed in the new research facility at the Field Center to store and house data in near-real time. The Field Center also serves as a site for conducting basic groundwater research for water scientists, public water suppliers, undergraduate and graduate students, and municipal, regional, state, and federal water regulators.

Yellow goldenrod flower

Public Health

Gene Knockdown through RNA Interference and Other Control Strategies to Depress Tick Survival through Winter Resting Periods Researchers: Josh Benoit (PI) and Andrew Rosedale (CoPI), UC Biology ​ This project seeks to generate a comprehensive understanding of tick cold tolerance and overwintering. Three grants for this study have been submitted to NIH. The study focuses on the completion of three aims: Assess if ticks are impacted by winter-associated stress and their potential to enter a genetic-programmed diapause. This aim assesses tick cold tolerance and if dormancy is an environmental cue-initiated, genetically-programmed diapause, or simply a period of quietness/inactivity. Identify the underlying transcriptional, metabolomics, and physiological changes associated with tick cold tolerance and overwintering. This aim analyzes underlying molecular and metabolite changes associated with dormancy, along with cold and dehydration exposure that are common during winter months. Establish if interactions with fungi alter cold tolerance and overwintering in ticks. This aim contributes to how pathogenic and non-pathogenic fungi alter stress resistance and overwintering potential. Two of the most abundant ticks in the United States are subjects of this proposal: the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis, primary vector of Rocky Mountain spotted fever), and the lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum, primary vector of Southern tick-associated rash illness and tularemia).

Yellow flowers with green large leaves



The Role of Intraspecific Hybridization in the Evolution of Invasiveness in the Ornamental Pear Tree (Pyrus calleryana) Researcher: Theresa Culley (PI), UC Biology  ​ This study examines the mating system and ecophysiology of an emerging invasive species that has been planted widely as an ornamental tree. Previously, it was thought that this introduced tree was a sterile hybrid, but Callery pear trees have found a way to reproduce and the off-spring are dispersing rapidly. This project is a continuation of previously-funded USDA research.  ​ An array of Callery pear trees of known genotypes have been planted in the deer exclosure area on the east side of the field station and will be the subjects of a long-term study to better understand the genetics and reproductive capabilities of this attractive, but problematic species and find ways to bring it under control.

Entrance of the UC Center for Field Studies

Climate Change

Environmental and Climatic Change in the Lower Great Miami River Valley.  Researchers: Kenneth Tankersley, UC Anthropology and David Lentz and Denis Conover, UC Biology This study compares the inventory of modern plant species and stable carbon isotope data from the lower Great Miami River valley with paleobotanical data and stable carbon isotope data collected from bone collagen from 20 radiocarbon dated archaeological sites, spanning more than 11,000 years of prehistory. The ultimate goal is to determine the rate and magnitude of environmental and climatic change, and ultimately human response to those changes. ​ Research: Effects of Air Pollution on Plant Reproduction and Health.  Researchers: Theresa Culley, UC Biology. This project is in collaboration with faculty in the UC Engineering College (with Tim Keener and Mingming Lu, Engineering).  ​ This study proposes to examine the effects of small particulate matter from diesel exhaust on the ecophysiology and seed production of three different plant species under field conditions. This involves setting up chambers into which air will be directed and studied.

University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning rooftop garden



Quantifying the Impact of Green Roofs on Surface Water Quality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Researchers: Ishi Buffam (CoPI), UC Biology and Dominic Bocelli (CoPI), UC Engineering ​ This project focuses on the biogeochemistry of urban aquatic ecosystems and the ecosystem services provided by urban green spaces. The current research centers around quantifying ecosystem services and potential disservices associated with green roofs. Proposals to NSF and USGS-NIWR that will support this research are currently under review. The experiment at the field station is specifically examining three aims: Whether one could build a functional green roof in this region using native plants Whether certain plant species are superior for water retention on a green roof Whether certain plant species are superior for nutrient retention on a green roof.

Honeysuckle plant with green leaves and red berries

Additional Research

Dytiscid Beetle Behavior and Eye Morphology Researcher: Elke Buschbeck, (PI) UC Biology   This investigation has led to the discovery of the presence of a bifocal lens in diving beetle larvae (Thermonectus marmoratus), the only natural bifocal lens in the extant animal kingdom thus far. The organization and function of dytiscid eyes is diverse and is presumably associated in prey-capture behavior. ​ The Field Center has provided a crucial link for this project, as it is situated near major wetlands, and it has several ponds on its property which are prime beetle habitats. Within the local ponds, we found a variety of dytiscid larvae, including Thermonectus basilaris, Cybister sp. and several other species that may be new to science. This project is currently funded by a NSF CAREER grant, IOB-0545978 with a second NSF grant (IOS – 1050754) funded. ​ Research: Urban Wildland Gradient Study Researchers: Guy Cameron (PI) and Theresa Culley, UC Biology  ​ The purpose of this project is to establish an urban-wildland gradient of study areas to assess the impact of urbanization on terrestrial vegetation and aquatic organisms, terrestrial and aquatic physical factors, and land-use. Six permanent study sites have been established along an urban-wildland gradient: Miami Whitewater Forest in western Hamilton County; Mt. Airy Forest, an urban forest in Cincinnati; Harris Benedict Nature Preserve, located in an urban area on the northern border of Cincinnati; East Fork Wildlife Area, a suburban/rural area on the eastern border of Cincinnati, operated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources; Tranquility Wildlife Area, a rural area operated by ODNR; and the Edge of Appalachia (EOA), a wildland preserve of The Nature Conservancy and Cincinnati Museum Center. Sixteen study plots were established in each study area, of which 8 plots contain Amur honeysuckle and 8 are without Amur honeysuckle, except EOA and Tranquility which have no honeysuckle.  ​ Censuses of trees, herbaceous vegetation, tree seedlings, and shrubs have revealed dramatic differences in biodiversity of plant populations, particularly in the understories, as one crosses the gradient. This study was initially funded by a grant from the University of Cincinnati Research Council.

Upcoming Research

Fish Ecology and Demographics in Southwest Ohio

Mike Booth, UC Biology

Wolf Spider Auditory Reception and Mating Systems

George Uetz, UC Biology

Butterfly Fight Simulation and Sensory Perception

Patrick Guerra, Stephanie Rollman, John Layne, UC Biology

Bird Population Studies in Southwest Ohio

Ron Canterbury, UC Biology

Visual Systems of Jumping Spiders

Nate Morehouse, UC Biology

Gray Treefrog Physiology and Behavior

Daniel Bucholtz, UC Biology

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Donate to the UC Field Center's Discretionary Fund to help support our work!

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