Some college students spend their long winter break meeting up with friends, traveling or catching up on much-needed sleep. Others, like Tom Marino ’15, pursue a more academic endeavor.
Under the direction of Hood ecologist April Boulton, Ph.D., Tom is investigating how planting wildflower borders can attract bees and other beneficial insects in agricultural settings. As part of a four-member student team, their goal is to examine how such native flowers can increase beneficial insects—both pollinators and predators, alike. Using a combination of sticky traps, sweep nets and field observations, they collected insect specimens this past summer as part of the Hood Summer Research Institute. Surveys were conducted in both experimental (flower border) and control (no flower border) fields on a soybean farm in Frederick County, Md. Tom is identifying the remaining summer traps (pictured above), but the preliminary results indicate that native pollinators and insect predators were significantly more abundant and diverse in the experimental plot. In addition, they have unanticipated evidence that such insects significantly increased the soybean yield and quality in the experimental plot when compared to the control plot.
Tom is one of more than 30 Hood students who are spending their winter break conducting research, participating in internships or volunteering in their communities and beyond.