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Lissa Leege - Georgia Southern University. Statesboro, GA, US

Lissa Leege Lissa Leege

Professor & Center for Sustainability Director | Georgia Southern University

Statesboro, GA, UNITED STATES

Lissa Leege's research focuses on plant conservation ecology, plant population and community ecology and threats to biodiversity.

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Biography

Professor Lissa Leege's research focuses on plant conservation ecology with regards to plant population and community ecology and threats to biodiversity. In particular, she is interested in the ecology of rare and invasive plants and how they interact to influence each other’s population dynamics. Her students use field and greenhouse experiments and observations to answer questions about the role of herbivores, fire, invaders, and other disturbances in regulating plant population and community dynamics. In recent years her research has included work on three endangered species in Georgia, Trillium reliquum, Trillium persistens and Baptisia arachnifera. Her research is based primarily in the southeastern U.S. and in Michigan.

Areas of Expertise (4)

Biology of Plants

Principles of Biology

Environmental Biology

Issues in Sustainability

Accomplishments (2)

Keep Bulloch Beautiful, Golden Can of Service Award (professional)

2012 Keep Bulloch Beautiful, Golden Can of Service Award

Who’s Who Among American Women (professional)

2010 Who’s Who Among American Women

Education (3)

Michigan State University: Ph.D., Botany and Plant Pathology 1997

Westminster College of Salt Lake City: Ed.D., Teacher's Certification 1990

St. Olaf College: B.A., Biology 1988

Articles (7)

The recovery of Lake Michigan sand dune communities following invasive pine removal Restoration Ecology

2014

Invasive species removal is an important first step toward restoring invaded ecosystems; however, restoration following removal may be hindered by (1) unintended consequences of management, such as habitat destabilization, and/or (2) legacy effects of the invader, such as persistent alterations of soil structure or plant community composition. During 1956–1972, approximately 26,000 individuals of the non‐native pine, Pinus nigra, were planted into multiple freshwater sand dune habitats as a stabilization measure on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan in Allegan County, MI, U.S.A. From 2004 to 2010, we evaluated the recovery of foredune and blowout habitats following P. nigra removal in 2003–2005. We compared sand movement and plant community structure, composition, and richness between removal and control sites over the 6 years following pine removal. In addition, we evaluated the impact of litter removal on recolonization of native graminoids in foredunes. Sand movement patterns never differed between removal and control sites in foredunes; however, accumulation was more common in removal sites in blowouts 1 and 6 years following pine removal. Vegetation cover in removal sites became indistinguishable from control sites in both foredunes and blowouts, but species richness for both forb and woody species was higher in removal sites in blowouts. Removal sites in both foredunes and blowouts had higher cover by forbs and lower cover by graminoids. Pine litter did not inhibit recolonization of foredunes by native graminoids. These results suggest that high disturbance habitats, such as sand dunes, have the potential to recover from invasion if the mechanism of disturbance is restored and pioneer species are present to recolonize the system.

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Impacts of laurel wilt disease on redbay (Persea borbonia (L.) Spreng.) population structure and forest communities in the coastal plain of Georgia, USA Biological Invasions

2013

Laurel wilt disease (LWD), a fungal disease vectored by the non-native redbay ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus Eichhoff), has caused mortality of redbay (Persea borbonia (L.) Spreng.) in the coastal plain of Georgia since 2003. Despite its rapid spread, little research has evaluated its impacts on redbay population structure and forest communities. Diseased populations of redbay in five sites (2–4 years post infestation) were compared to healthy populations in three uninfested sites in five counties in Georgia. The results showed high redbay mortality, shifts in size structure, and changes in community .

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Improving learning outcomes in large environmental science classrooms through short-term service-learning projects Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences

2011

We conducted an investigation on the efficacy of service-learning in large environmental biology classes. We were interested in whether or not service-learning in classes with over 200 students has an impact on content learning, and attitudes/behaviors related to the content. Students completed a pre-survey, a service project, and reflection paper (experimental group), and a post-survey. Comparing pre- and post-surveys, student responses to attitude, and behavior questions revealed a positive impact on environmental worldview. Student confidence in understanding course content improved in the specific areas related to service projects. Overall, our study shows that large classroom learning is enhanced by short-term service-learning projects.

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A field study of seed germination in the endangered Trillium reliquum Freeman (Trilliaceae) Plant Species Biology

2011

Previous studies examining the seeds of most Trillium species have reported double dormancy, a type of seed dormancy where two cold periods and one warm period are needed for complete germination. In the present paper, we describe a field study examining the federally endangered Trillium reliquum Freeman (Trilliaceae) in which moderate to high numbers of seeds germinated after one winter following seed production. Sixteen baskets with seeds were placed in four T. reliquum populations (four baskets in each population) in Georgia, USA, in June 2005. In spring 2006, all seed baskets contained seedlings. Germination percentages ranged from 33.3 to 83.3% across sites with a mean of 56.9 ± 3.9%. Trillium reliquum had higher germination percentages compared with other field‐based germination studies with other Trillium species. Our findings will inform future demographic studies of T. reliquum and suggest that double dormancy in seeds may not be as widespread as previously reported within the genus Trillium.

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Improving learning outcomes in large environmental science classrooms through short-term service-learning projects Journal of Environmental Studies and Science

2011

We conducted an investigation on the efficacy of service-learning in large environmental biology classes. We were interested in whether or not service-learning in classes with over 200 students has an impact on content learning, and attitudes/behaviors related to the content. Students completed a pre-survey, a service project, and reflection paper (experimental group), and a post-survey. Comparing pre- and post-surveys, student responses to attitude, and behavior questions revealed a positive impact on environmental worldview. Student confidence in understanding course content improved in the specific areas related to service projects. Overall, our study shows that large classroom learning is enhanced by short-term service-learning projects.

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The Responses of Rare and Common Trilliums (Trillium reliquum, T. cuneatum, and T. maculatum) to Deer Herbivory and Invasive Honeysuckle Removal Castanea

2010

Assessing the factors that may contribute to rarity in flowering plants is important in preserving biodiversity. One method of examining these factors is through comparisons of rare species to more common congeners. While these studies are fairly common, most focus on comparisons of intrinsic factors, such as growth and dispersal rates and other physical attributes. In contrast, this study examined the effects of extrinsic factors, specifically herbivory by white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and competition with an invasive vine, Lonicera japonica, on a rare forest herb, Trillium reliquum and its more common congeners, Trillium maculatum and Trillium cuneatum. We used a factorial design involving deer exclusion and honeysuckle removal to determine effects on relative growth of rare and common trilliums. We found that a common trillium was more susceptible to herbivory than T. reliquum in one of the three sites with a similar trend in a second site and no effect in the third. Deer also significantly reduced relative leaf area (a measure of growth) for all species, reduced the probability of subadult transitions to reproductives, and increased the probability of non-emergence in two sites. While deer had a significant effect in this study, there was no detectable effect of honeysuckle presence on growth for any species of trillium during this time period. Our results show that the long-term management of white-tailed deer will be important to the conservation of spring ephemeral herbs such as T. reliquum, T. cuneatum, and T. maculatum.

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Under the mistletoe: Guided inquiry through collaborative research in the secondary biology classroom The Science Teacher

2008

Ask your students about mistletoe and they might tell you about its use as a holiday decoration, or the custom that two people who meet under a hanging of mistletoe are obliged to kiss. We developed "Under the Mistletoe" to capitalize on student curiosity about this plant and draw learners into an engaging, inquiry-based exercise that incorporates numerous life science and biology standards in the 7th- through 12th-grade science classroom (see "About the project," p. 51)...

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