Our laboratory focuses its research in four areas of ecology: (1) aquatic sciences, (2) wetland rehabilitation, (3) lichenology, and (4) dendrochronology. In aquatic sciences, we are interested in the application of biological, chemical and physical measurements of freshwater streams to assess impacts from anthropogenic activities. We are starting our fourth year of a long-term watershed study in Fishing Creek watershed (Columbia and Sullivan Counties, PA), examining the impact of acid precipitation on water chemistry and aquatic macroinvertebrates. Studies embedded in the project include impact of Marcellus shale drilling on water quality, trout emigration from headwaters, changes in aquatic macroinvertebrate communities due to flooding and in relationship to channel morphology, and using periphytic algae as indicators of failed septic systems. In wetland rehabilitation, we are collaborating with Allegheny Land Trust to assess the rehabilitation of a floodplain wetland at Wingfield Pines (Bridgeville, PA). Wingfield Pines was strip mined for coal in the mid-1900s and later converted into a golf course. A passive wetland treatment system was installed in 2009 to remove iron from underground mine drainage and a portion of the property was planted with wetland-adapted trees and shrubs to facilitate the progression from a golf course to a natural wetland. We conduct annual botanical surveys of herbs, shrubs and trees. Studies embedded in the project include growth rates of saplings in relation to soil properties, distribution of invasive species, and the colonization of lichens on saplings. In lichenology, we are studying the application of lichens as biological indicators of air quality in southwestern Pennsylvania. The project began in 2008 with the support of a Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Wild Resource Conservation grant. This is a long-term study that will be repeated every five years to assess changes in lichen communities in relation to climate change and urbanization. In dendrochronology, we are collaborating with Allegheny Land Trust to determine what environmental factors drive tree growth on Sycamore Island, which is a privately-owned island on the Allegheny River near Pittsburgh.
Matthew R. Opdyke, PhD (Curriculum Vita) Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Point Park University 201 Wood Street Pittsburgh, PA 15222 mopdyke [at] pointpark.edu
Last updated September 10, 2013.
Check out these four exciting projects in more detail:
1) Fishing Creek Watershed Study
2) Lichen Community Study
3) Wetland Rehabilitation Study