Natural Sciences Professor and Alums Publish Research in Peer-Reviewed Urban Ecology Journal

MMC Biology Professor Matt Lundquist, Ph.D., and alums Madison Weisend ’20 and Hope Kenmore ’20 recently co-published a research paper in the peer-reviewed journal Urban Forestry & Urban Greening. The paper “Insect biodiversity in urban tree pit habitats” was the culmination of a faculty-student collaborative project examining the biodiversity of insects within street tree pit habitats in Manhattan.

Tree pits are common miniature green spaces in New York City that are important for urban sustainability. The trees provide shade, and the soil in the pit helps capture rainwater. Plants in the tree pits can also provide habitats for insects and other small animals.

We know little about the pits’ ecology. However, in their research, Dr. Lundquist, Weisend, and Kenmore found that over 50 different types of insects live within the tree pits and interact with each other as an ecological community, thus demonstrating that tree pits play a role in sustaining biodiversity in New York City. The research sets the stage for further projects looking at tree pits to better understand their role in the sustainability of New York City and other cities around the world, Dr. Lundquist said.

“This research project involved a lot of work, both in the field and the lab,” he added. “Madison and Hope gave their all to this paper, and it really showed in the final product. At a college like MMC, it is the synergy that comes from faculty-student collaborations that makes high-level research like this possible. I could not be prouder of them both.”

For the alums, the collaboration brought multi-layered opportunities for learning.

“Conducting research right in my own neighborhood was exciting, and I learned a lot about problem-solving and adapting on the go,” Kenmore said.

Weisend said she also appreciated seeing the process of taking research to publication.

“I loved being able to see fieldwork, like physically catching insects throughout the city, be translated into data and applicable findings,” she said. “You have to have strong standards for data integrity every step of the way to ensure that the final product is defendable against any scrutiny that the publishers might present. I knew that before the project started but being a part of it showed me the time and dedication it takes to conduct academic research.”

To learn more about the exciting research in the MMC Urban Ecology Lab, visit https://www.lundquistecology.com.