I studied under the Wetland Scientist, Darla Boyer, at the Tulalip Tribe's Natural Resources Department, spring of 2015. My project focused on the Wapato (potato) plant, Sagittaria latifolia. My study included seed germination strategies, growing tubers with different salinity treatments, and exclusion fencing in the field to help with plant establishment by deterring herbivory. In October 2015, I received the Society for Wetland Scientist, PNW Chapter Student Scholarship Award and presented at the SWS PNW Conference.
The Tulalip Reservation has over four hundred wetlands in thirteen basins. Prior to starting, there was some historical and cultural information stating Wapato has been on Tulalip land, but it had not been collected or seen in the last 50 years or so. It is a culturally significant plant to Native Americans across the US and used as an important food source. Ecologically, it provides habitat value in the form of food for beavers, muskrats, and ducks who eat the root/bulbs, seeds, or leaves. This plant does well in high-nutrient/polluted wetlands and is quite hardy. The cultural and ecological importance of Wapato made it an ideal plant to reintroduce at the Tulalip Reservation.
Goals included designing a research question, hypotheses, experiments, data collection, and presentation of results.
In the photo (right), I am planting my first tuber in Sturgeon Creek!