Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Cecilia A. McIntosh, Foster Levy

Committee Members

Dan M. Johnson


This study tested an experimental approach to use in teaching the concept of functional diversity. The project culminated in a laboratory exercise for use in high schools.

Experimental design consisted of representatives of three functional groups of plants, (legumes, grasses, and forbs), planted singly, and in two, or three species combinations. Legumes were represented by Trifolium repens and Medicago lupulina, grasses were represented by Cynodon dactylon and Festuca rubra, and forbs were represented by Helianthus annus and Raphanus sativa.

Plants were grown inside a controlled growth chamber. During the growth phase, measurements were taken to highlight temporal differences in development. After two months, wet and dry weights of aboveground and belowground portions were measured as indicators of productivity.

Research showed unique developmental patterns related to functional groups. Secondly, functional combination, not functional group number, produced a significant difference in biomass.

Laboratory use involves group discussion, active-learning, and higher understanding of conservation.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.

Included in

Biology Commons