Current Research

There are several research studies that are currently underway at Merry Lea.  Some of these are being conducted by Merry Lea staff members while others are being done in partnership with other organizations or agencies.

Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) at Merry Lea,  Lisa Zinn

Since 2002 Merry Lea has maintained two bird banding stations as part of a nationwide effort to collect data under the MAPS program sponsored by the Institute for Bird Populations. Dr. Lisa Zinn and Dr. David Miller along with field assistants run these two stations from May through the beginning of August.  Birds are trapped with mist nets and are then carefully extracted from the net for the researchers to quickly examine them and record a wide range of data including sex, breeding status, wing length, weight, and bird age. Previously banded birds have their band numbers recorded while unbanded birds recieve a band with a unique band number. 

More information on Bird Banding at Merry Lea

Garlic Mustard Control

Accidental introduction of alien plants and animals is an increasing problem given our modern means of transportation, and alien garlic mustard threatens the spring flora of our woodlands including those at Merry Lea. Maple Scholar Jason Kauffman surveyed our populations of garlic mustard in 2003, and determined the kinds of insects that live on it. That's important, because use of natural predators to control undesirable pests is the method of choice so long as the organism introduced does not become an even greater problem. An insect predator for garlic mustard may be available in the next year or two, and Merry Lea will consider introducing it once we have a better understanding of our local insects.

Gleason Moss Collection, Dr. Dave Miller
The objectives of the Gleason Moss Project is two-fold. The primary objective is to make the information in the Gleason Collection available to the general public and other scientists by putting in onto the World Wide Web. The indirect objective is to understand the complexity, taxonomy and techniques regarding moss preservation and study. Goshen College does not have a moss expert on staff. Therefore, two students, under the supervision of a Goshen College biology professor, have endeavored to learn the glossary, taxonomy and histology of those moss families found in the Gleason Collection.

The Tallgrass Prairie Project, Dr. Ryan Sensenig


In the summer and fall of 2008, Environmental Science students at Goshen College helped initiate a project which examines the effect of white tail deer browsing on Tallgrass prairie forb dynamics in a restored prairie at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center.  Researchers helped erect 8 ft tall deer exclosures around two 20 m X 20 m plots in Luckey's Prairie in the spring of 2008 and have been helping collect cover and herbivory data to quantify which forbs deer preferentially select as forage.