Final Report: Establishment of a Center for Cedar Glade Studies

EPA Grant Number: X832331
Title: Establishment of a Center for Cedar Glade Studies
Investigators: Walck, Jeffrey L. , Sadler, Kim C. , Hemmerly, Thomas E. , Smith-Walters, Cindi
Institution: Middle Tennessee State University
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: October 1, 2005 through September 30, 2007 (Extended to September 30, 2008)
Project Amount: $193,900
RFA: Targeted Research Grant (2004) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Hazardous Waste/Remediation , Targeted Research


To provide research opportunities on the ecology of cedar glades; increase educator knowledge and skills on the topic of cedar glades; act as a clearinghouse to provide information on cedar glades to the public; and create a network of organizations to identify research and outreach needs for cedar glades.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

Education Component

The following objectives were identified in the initial proposal, items listed identify how that objective was met or exceeded:

  1. Develop an interdisciplinary K-12 curriculum aligned with the Tennessee Science Curriculum Standards and the National Science Education Standards and include the design of a curriculum guide and an interactive video lesson on glades for educational viewing.
    • Television program (one hour) was broadcast Spring 2007 and Fall 2008 through MTSU Video-Conferencing Satellite technology (interactive lesson called: Zoning Out in Glades) to 12 viewing counties; program broadcast will repeat annually.
    • DVD completed (A Visit to the Limestone Cedar Glades) with a series of five segments that detail endemic plants, geology, research, grade school student research, and a tribute to cedar glade researcher from Vanderbilt, Dr. Elsie Quarterman.
    • Cedar Glade Educator Activity Guide (150 pages) supports curriculum integration and key concepts about glade organisms, geology, ecology, and conservation.
    • To support student field research and study of cedar glade plants, short guide titled Flatrock Glades: Cedar Glade Plant Guide for Elementary Students identifies a variety of glade plant species of interest, a topographic map, and vocabulary unfamiliar to students (22 pages).
  2. Recruit and involve an educational research and review (RR) team composed of three teachers  (one high school, one middle school, one elementary school) and one high school student, in (a) a systematic study of selected endemic plants and zones in Middle Tennessee; (b) curriculum  review and field-testing; and (c) a conference presentation.
    • R and R team members: Kim Hinton, Siegel High School; Melissa Turrentine, Cascade Middle School; Marrie Lasater, Homer Pittard Campus School; Ryan Jackson, high school student 2006 and Bryan Allen, high school student 2008).
      1. R and R team members followed cedar glade research of graduate student Shea Cofer, professor’s Jeffrey Walck and Bruce Cahoon; elementary teacher Marrie Lasater and colleagues participated in two year research study with their classrooms conducted by graduate student Karen Metius-House.
      2. See objective C.
      3. See objective D.
  3. Pilot and field-test cedar glade activity lessons with formal and non formal educators.
    • Activity lesson plans
      1. Drafts reviewed by experts and revised by RR team.
      2. Lessons piloted/field-tested in elementary, middle, high school classes, non formal learning situations (museum and nature center).
      3. Twenty-three activity/lessons include lower elementary through high school level, interactive learning games to complement lessons, and appendix with student handouts (cedar glade species checklist, flower card sets, bingo cards, and research booklets).
  4. Collaborate with CCGS partners to facilitate one workshop for educators.
    • Workshop conducted December 2005 at National Science Teachers Association Conference (Geology Rules: the Cedar Glades of Middle Tennessee).
      1. Participants (48 total) received a CD-ROM with PowerPoint presentation, brochure, and workshop activities; rock and sediment samples; and poster.
        • Roundtable session conducted September 23, 2006 at Tennessee Environmental Education Association Annual Conference (An Introduction to Cedar Glades.)
      2. Conference attendees (150 total) received a CD-ROM with PowerPoint presentation, pamphlet, and piloted activities.
        • Workshop conducted November 17, 2006 at Tennessee Science Teachers Association Conference (A Cedar Glade Activity Sampler).
      3. Participants (50 total) received a CD-ROM with PowerPoint presentation, pamphlet, and workshop activities; rock and sediment samples; and a poster.
        • Workshop conducted March 31, 2007 at Tennessee Environmental Education Association spring meeting at Cedars of Lebanon State Park.
      4. Participants (60 total) received revised a CD-ROM with PowerPoint presentation, pamphlet, and activities.
        • Workshop conducted April 19, 2007 for Rutherford County Schools (Cedar Glades: Rockin’ and Talkin’ at Flat Rock.)
      5. Participants (28 total) received CD-ROM with PowerPoint presentation, wildflower guide, brochure, and activities.
        • Workshop conducted April 26, 2007 for AP Biology teacher in-service.
      6. Participants (22 total) received CD-ROM with PowerPoint presentation, wildflower guide, brochure, draft of activities, and poster.
  5. Additional outcomes from education component not initially identified in proposal.
    • Biology graduate student Karen Metius-House examined elementary student knowledge and attitude about the environment through cedar glade field experiences.
      1. Two classes, grades 2 and 5,  participated in 2005 study (IRB Approval#05-169) that was expanded in 2006 to model quasi-experimental design and included four classes, grades 2 and 5; students were cross-age partnered into control and experimental groups (IRB Approval #06-252).
      2. Methods: In the 2005 study, all classes participated in a field investigation of a selected plant in the cedar glades. In the 2006 study, control group classes in grades 2 and 5 completed in-class research projects on assigned plants and experimental group classes participated in field trips to the glades to conduct field research on a selected glade plant. Knowledge and attitude were measured through pre- and posttest design. A 10-item knowledge test addressed basic knowledge about cedar glades, rare plant protection, the scientific method, as well as the roll of a scientist.  A five-item attitude test utilized a Likert-type scale that consisted of five items: science, cedar glades, plants, experiments, and field research.  All classes participated in activities at school such as: lectures presented by cedar glade experts from MTSU faculty and specialists from various agencies including the Nature Conservancy, TN Natural Heritage Program, TN Parks and Recreation, TN Department of Geology; slide show discussions on basic life support requirements of glade plants such as moisture, light and plant adaptations; and interactive activities where students worked with their cross-age partner in cooperative teams.  Pre field trip lessons for experimental group classes included practice identifying plant species and using assigned field tools with data entry in science journals. 
      3. Results & conclusions: Higher posttest scores indicate that overall, students learned more about the cedar glades and the scientific process.  The 2005 student difference in pre- and post-test for knowledge was significantly greater with younger grade 2 students (t(17)=4.06, p<.001) then the older grade 5 students (t(22)=1.92, p=.068).  It could be speculated that younger students had no previous exposure to science and much to learn from the experience. Student attitude decreased with both grades in 2005, however older student differences in attitude were significantly negative (t(16)=4.5, p<.001) compared to younger student values (t(17)=11.4, p=.17). Many factors could have contributed to the decline such as the day of posttest administration on the last week of school and field ecology challenges (insects, heat, and hiking). The 2006 student post knowledge scores were significantly higher for all classes (F(1, 6)=13.38, p<0.01) but  in contrast to the 2005 study, there was no difference in posttest scores for attitude with control or experimental classes (F(1, 6)=0.319, p=0.51). With the selected surveys, students appear to learn as much about glades at school as they do participating in field trips to the glades.
    • Tour of the Cedar Glades conducted as part of the program during the National Science Teacher Association Regional Conference Fall 2005 (28 participants).
    • Incorporated undergraduate and graduate students (69 students) from Summer 2006 and 2007 Ecology Courses (BIOL 4240/5240) in research projects and toured glades to discuss glade ecology.
    • Tour of the cedar Glades and Barrens conducted as part of the program during the Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting Summer 2007 (12 participants).
    • Invited seminar presentation May 2007 and 2008 for MTSU Science Methods course (Elementary Student Research in Cedar Glades).
    • Academy for Young Scientists (87 middle school students and 12 teachers) spent a day (Summer 2008) in rotating groups exploring cedar glades and learning about glade ecology.
    • Educator field research trunks are available for checkout and include: analog and laser thermometers, light and moisture meters, GPS units, marking flags, hula hoops.
    • Project-based Learning in the Cedar Glades course (BIOL 4331) developed for middle and high school preservice teachers.

Research Component

  1. Determine the roles that abiotic and biotic factors play in species richness and exotic species invasion on cedar glades.
    • Methods:  Field surveys of vascular plants on 40 cedar glades in Rutherford County, Tennessee were conducted during the 2001-03 growing seasons.  Glades were geo-referenced to obtain area, perimeter, distance from autotour road and degree of isolation.  Amount of disturbance also was recorded. 
    • Results & conclusions:  Two-hundred thirty two taxa were found with Andropogon virginicus, Croton monanthogynus, Juniperus virginiana, Panicum flexile and Ulmus alata present on all glades.  The exotics Ligustrum sinense, Leucanthemum vulgare and Taraxacum officinale occurred on the majority of glades.  Lobelia appendiculata var. gattingeri, Leavenworthia stylosa and Pediomelum subacaule were the most frequent endemics.  Richness of native, exotic and endemic species increased with increasing area and perimeter and decreased with increasing isolation (P ≤ 0.0299); richness was unrelated to distance to road (P ≥ 0.2023).  Perimeter explained a greater amount of variation than area for native and exotic species, whereas area accounted for greater variation for endemic species.  Slope of the relationship between area and total richness (0.17) was within the range reported for continental islands.  Disturbed glades contained a higher number of exotic and native species than nondisturbed ones, but they were larger (P ≤ 0.0330).  Invasion of exotic species was unrelated to native species richness when glade size was statistically controlled (P = 0.8818).  Absence of a relationship is probably due to a lack of substantial competitive interactions.  Most endemics occurred over a broad range of glade sizes emphasizing the point that glades of all sizes are worthy of protection.
  2. Additional projects from the research component not initially identified in proposal.
    Seed germination studies of 11 plants common to the cedar glade ecosystem – This work is very useful for (1) understanding the invasion of exotic species particularly in the glade forest, and (2) restoration of sites via propagating and planting of native species.  Seeds of the following species needed cold stratification to break dormancy: Phlox bifida var. stellaria (endemic forb), Forestiera ligustrina (common shrub), Berchemia scandans (common vine), and Dasistoma macrophylla (common forb).  The natural mechanism to break physical dormancy in seeds of two Astragalus species (endemic forbs) was unresolved.  Warm and cold stratification is needed to break dormancy in Nandina domestica and Ligustrum sinense (exotic shrubs), respectively.  Seeds collected of Thalictrum thalictroides (common forb) were nonviable, and lack of plentiful seed production prevented studies on Oxalis priceae (endemic forb).  In addition, the location of water entrance in seeds of Berchemia scandens, which belongs to a plant family normally having physical dormancy, was identified via microscopy work.
    • Species richness along soil depth gradients across cedar glades – Permanent transects and plots were established in two glades and data on species richness and soil depth collected.  Species richness significantly correlated with the coefficient of variation (CV) of soil depth and not with the mean.  Moreover, spatial variation of richness in relation to mean and CV of soil depth differed within and between glades.  The results strongly support visual observations that vegetation and physical features varies greatly among glades.  Thus, site specific information would be needed in restoration projects.
    • Closure of cedar glades with woody plant invasion – A preliminary project investigated the utilization of old aerial photographs for delineating glades to determine the amount of woody plant invasion on glades over time.  Future work on this project will need to accurately identify well-delineated glades (both in the past and current) whose edge (i.e., boundary with the forest) can be easily mapped.
    • Cataloging cedar glade grass species and DNA barcode – Twenty-eight species were collected and two chloroplast DNA regions sequenced.  Members in the Tribes Aristideae (3), Cynodonteae (4), and Aveneae (1) were found to reside in the rocky, exposed areas of glades and those in the Tribes Triticeae (2) and Meliceae (1) exclusively in shady areas, while those in Tribes Paniceae (4), Andropogoneae (2), and Danthonieae (1) had a varied distribution.  Species that flower in the spring or early summer were found at the interface of the glade and forest where shade and moisture are relatively abundant, whereas those that flower in autumn grew within rocky exposed areas.  Barcodes produced in this study will be entered into GenBank after expert verification of samples.
    • Population genetics of Leavenworthia – The population structure, pollination biology, and mating system of Leavenworthia were studied to understand biotic and abiotic factors leading to the loss of self-incompatibility.  Preliminary survey work of six Leavenworthia species (two being endemic to cedar glades, L. stylosa and L. torulosa) were conducted.
  3. Participants in the research component (i.e., in addition to those listed as a PI).
    • Species richness on glades – Graduate student Shea Cofer and undergraduates in the Summer Ecology Course (25 students)
    • Seed germination – MTSU Graduate student Shea Cofer, University of Kentucky graduate student Gehan Jayasuriya, and undergraduate Marta Rolig
    • DNA barcoding of cedar glade grasses – Associate professor Bruce Cahoon, graduate student Abby Drumwright, and high school student Brian Allen
    • Leavenworthia population genetics – Assistant professor Chris Herlihy

Overall Center’s Tasks

  • Center for Cedar Glade Studies office and a CCGS library established on MTSU campus, Fairview room 202E; in cooperation with MTSU Library, digital and special collections related to cedar glades will be housed in the CCGS library.
  • Scientific Advisory Committee for CCGS is composed of representatives from Tennessee Nature Conservancy, Tennessee Division of Natural Areas, Tennessee Division of State Parks, Tennessee Department of Education, Tennessee Wildlife resource Agency, United States Geologic Survey, NatureServe, and National Park Service; meets biannually.
  • Website posted and updated monthly; site includes web pages related to glade ecology, endemic plants, geology, glade research, educator resources, and media.
  • Held two, 1-day Research Roundtable meetings (Spring 2007 and 2008) consisting of more than 20 participants from 15 organizations.
  • Collaborated with Tennessee Division of Parks and Recreation to co-host the annual Wildflower Pilgrimage at Cedars of Lebanon State Park; event was renamed Elsie Quarterman Wildflower Festival to commemorate the Vanderbilt professor that pioneered limestone cedar glade research.
  • Flat Rock Cedar Glade flower guide completed and second edition printed.
  • Poster of endemic plants of cedar glades completed and printed.
  • Cedar Glade informational pamphlet completed and printed.
  • Satellite broadcast program called Zoning Out in Glades with MTSU Instructional Technology Support Center shown annually to viewing audiences in 12 county area.
  • In cooperation with Rutherford County TV Channel 19 and the TN Division of Natural Heritage, A Visit to Flatrock Glades and Barrens, was produced and available for viewing on the CCGS website.
  • Video project completed with a series of five segments that detail endemic plants, geology, research, grade school student research, and a tribute to Dr. Elsie Quarterman.
  • Quality assurance guidelines were followed regarding management of CCGS affairs through communication with QA manager, Dr. Thomas Cheatham, Dean College Basic and Applied Sciences; biannual SAC meetings and interim communication on projects; purchasing followed TN Board of Reagent policies; data secured and maintained at two sites, Fairview and Davis Science Building.

Outlined below are key projects and their significance (Table 1).

Table 1.  Findings of key projects and their significance to the field, general goals of the award,  relevance to Agency’s mission, and potential practical applications.

Key Project

Key Results


Provide research opportunities on cedar glade ecology:


Detailed outcomes of specific research projects are given above in the research component section. 

Studies being conducted on cedar glades were limited prior to this grant.  With the creation of the Center, the number of students and faculty involved with glade studies has dramatically increased.  Moreover, engaging experts on the SAC and from the scientific community, future projects have been identified.

Provide educational research opportunities related to cedar glades:



Detailed outcomes of specific research projects are given above in the research component section 

Field ecology and classroom experiences about cedar glades can improve elementary student knowledge about this local system. Student knowledge of endemic plants could provide appreciation for conservation.

Increase educator knowledge about cedar glades

1. Cedar Glade Educator Activity Guide provides learning opportunities to K-12 classes through interactive lessons.

2. DVD, A Visit to the Limestone Cedar Glade,  companions with the Educator Activity Guide

3. Flatrock Cedar Glade Flower Guide for Elementary Students is a student-friendly guide to glade plants

4. Educator workshops conducted at the national, state, and local level provide cedar glade resources and information; six have been conducted since 2005


Prior to this project, there were few resources available to teachers that provided sufficient information about the limestone cedar glades.  The materials developed offer a variety of standards-correlated lessons for K-12 educators.  All of the materials developed are available on the CCGS website.

Act as a clearing house to provide information to the public about cedar glades

1. Developed a CCGS website

2. Established a Center office in the MTSU Fairview Building, room 202E

3. Created a library specific to literature related cedar glades, housed in the Fairview Building

4. Two television programs produced to be shown on cable TV network

5. Developed a five-segment DVD details glade ecology, geology, conservation, and glade research

6. Informational pamphlet developed

7. Endemic plants poster developed

8. Field trips provided though the CCGS upon request

9. Co-host with TN State Parks to the annual Elsie Quarterman Cedar Glade Wildflower Festival

There is now a centralized location to obtain information about limestone cedar glades via a visit to MTSU or the website. Several other resources such as the DVD, bi-fold pamphlet, and poster are available for distribution during special events and upon request.

Create a network of organizations to identify needs related to research and conservation about cedar glades

1. Developed a Scientific Advisory Committee consisting of individuals representing state/federal agencies/organizations to guide the CCGS mission and outreach

2. Research Roundtable – held annually to allow interaction among key stake-holders for cedar glades and facilitate focus on research needs of cedar glades

The organizations that work with cedar glades now have a forum to meet and discuss collectively work related to cedar glades. Key needs identified: (a) identify vegetation types for rapid ecological assessment, (b) regional conservation partners continue to meet and plan, (c) determine linkages to hydrologic issues in the region, (d) organize a vegetation sampling reconnaissance, and (e) define how glades are affected by human use.

Journal Articles on this Report : 1 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 13 publications 1 publications in selected types All 1 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Cofer MS, Walck JL, Hidayati SN. Species richness and exotic species invasion in middle Tennessee cedar glades in relation to abiotic and biotic factors. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 2008;135(4):540-553. X832331 (Final)
  • Abstract: Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    terrestrial, southeastern United States, Tennessee , plant surveys, environmental education, rare plants, educator awareness, island biogeography, student knowledge,

    Relevant Websites: EPA EPA EPA

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2006 Progress Report
  • 2007 Progress Report