January 27, 2009

Daniel Wang '10, left, and Biology Professor Mark Spiro aloft in one of the largest trees on campus.

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(Editor's note: The following article appeared in the winter 2009 edition of Bucknell Magazine.)

By Gigi Marino

LEWISBURG, Pa.  –  “Imagine,” says Associate Professor of Biology Mark Spiro, “as you walk through the Grove, that you are among many of the same trees where every Bucknellian has walked under since the University’s founding in 1846. That’s really an amazing history.”

This history and tradition depended upon “forward thinking” of the founders,who, says Spiro, had the foresight not only to maintain but also to cultivate Bucknell’s arboreal presence. Many of the trees in the Grove are more than 200 years old.

First assessment
In 1974, Professor of Biology Wayne Manning conducted the University’s first assessment of this remarkable stand of trees.

Last summer, Daniel Wang ’10, following in Manning’s footsteps and working from funding provided by the Wayne E. and Margaret S.Manning Internship in the Biological Sciences, identified more than 1,600 trees. The campus contains more than 80 species, with white oak dominating. Two-thirds of the trees are native to this area.

Wang’s summer research laid the foundation for the Bucknell Arboretum, a project that grew out of the Environmental Assessment’s directive to track biodiversity on campus.

Important resource
“As we looked closely at the trees,we realized that we have a valuable and important resource that needs to be reported to the public and protected,”  says Spiro.

Also working with the Arboretum project is Associate Professor of Geography and biogeographer Duane Griffin, who has directed the process of mapping the trees. Enlisting the help of Mike Weaver from the Department of Library and Information Technology, the team is in the initial stages of building an interactive website that will provide specific information about each tree on campus.

Thanks to Google Earth, anyone traversing campus with a smart phone will be able to identify specific trees by their common and taxonomic names, as well as learn the size and approximate age of the trees.

“The Arboretum will provide educational, botanical and historical benefits, not to mention strengthening a sense of history with our local communities,” says Spiro.

Contact: Division of Communications