Browse by Subject
Contact Information

Northern Research Station
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726
(608) 231-9318
(608) 231-9544 TTY/TDD

You are here: NRS Home / Research Programs / Forest Disturbance Processes / Invasive Species / Emerald Ash Borer /Biology and Ecology / Forest Ecology and Emerald Ash Borer Research with Middle School Students
Emerald Ash Borer

A Living Laboratory at Dempsey Wetlands: Forest Ecology and Emerald Ash Borer Research with Middle School Students


[photo:] Students examining external symptoms on an ash logConnection of children with nature enables them to grow into adults who value forests and support conservation.  Participating in forest research familiarizes kids with the scientific method and allows them to experience some of the challenges and excitement of this field.

 Our Research

Through a collaborative effort with Deborah Bogard, a teacher at Dempsey Middle School, 7th and 8th grade advanced science students established monitoring plots and collected ecological data at the Dempsey Wetlands, a 15 ha school forest including mature forest, old fields, and various successional stages.  The project was motivated by the discovery of emerald ash borer (EAB) (Agrilus planipennis) in an adjacent private woodlot.  Students began in fall 2006 by tagging, identifying, and measuring the diameter of trees in 60 plots on transects through the mature forest and along trails in the early successional areas.  Students used a dichotomous winter key that we developed, which includes only tree species, or species groups, commonly found in the school forest. 

[photo:] A student peeling an ash logTo examine EAB ecology, ash trees were felled in December 2008 and December 2009, cut into 1 m segments, and brought into the classroom for students to study.  Students recorded external symptoms of EAB, then peeled away the bark to reveal EAB and native insect galleries.  EAB and non-EAB insects were preserved and are currently being identified.  Students created graphs to explore within-site and within-tree distribution of EAB, non-EAB insects, and woodpecker feeding.  This data is currently being analyzed.  Native parasitoid wasps were discovered parasitizing approximately 2% of EAB larvae.  Research on the biology of these wasps is ongoing. 

Expected Outcomes

An emerald ash borer research curriculum, for educators to use for hands-on EAB research designed for students in grades 6-8. 

Research Results

The Youth Scientist curriculum allows students to learn about the benefits of trees and forests and to experience the scientific process while learning about an invasive pest. 

More Information >>


Flower, Charles E.; Knight, Kathleen S.; Rebbeck, Joanne; Gonzalez-Meler, Miquel A.; 2013. The relationship between the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) and ash (Fraxinus spp.) tree decline: Using visual canopy condition assessments and leaf isotope measurements to assess pest damage. Forest Ecology and Management. 303: 143-147.

Kula, Robert R.; Knight, Kathleen S.; Rebbeck, Joanne; Bauer, Leah S.; Cappaert, David L.; Gandhi, Kamal J.K.; 2010. Leluthia astigma (Ashmead) (Hymenoptera: Braconidae: Doryctinae) as a parasitoid of Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire (Coleoptera: Buprestidae: Agrilinae), with an assessment of host associations for nearctic species of Leluthia Cameron. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. 112(2): 246-257.

Research Participants

Principal Investigators

  • Joanne Rebbeck, US Forest Service, Northern Research Station - Plant Physiologist
  • Kathleen Knight, US Forest Service, Northern Research Station - Research Ecologist

Research Partners

  • Deborah Bogard, Delaware City Schools
  • Kamal Gandhi, University of Georgia
  • David Cappaert, Michigan State University
  • Leah Bauer, US Forest Service, Northern Research Station - Research Entomologist
  • Robert Kula, USDA Agricultural Research Service

Last Modified: 03/14/2016