Rianna Soltis, Amanda N. Thieneman, Valerie Nicole Thurston


Presentation: 10:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Kennedy Union Ballroom

This project reflects research conducted as part of a course project designed to give students experience in the research process.

Course: BIO 459L



Download Project (269 KB)


Leaf litter is the collection of leaves that fall from the surrounding trees in an ecosystem. The leaves decompose in the spot they fall or where they get carried away towards water. Leaf litter data showcases the biodiversity in an area, which can help identify if the area is healthy or not. We also thought it important to see how much of this leaf litter is ending up in the river. In our experiment, we wanted to look at the difference between leaves that were collected vertically versus laterally in the oxbow river. Vertical litter is what falls off the tree, in our case, over the water. This can be caused by wind or by naturally falling off. The lateral litter we are looking at refers to the leaves that are not falling directly into the river by tree fall. They fall more inland and are carried by water from rain or wind into the river. We wanted to see the difference between the two types of leaf litter collection. The study site, Old River Park, was once a manicured park for employees but now it belongs to the University of Dayton. It is partially maintained by mowing, but a portion of it has been designated as a research area and has become an area with little to no upkeep and has become overgrown. This is the area of the park that we conducted our research in. The oxbow is partially shaded by broadleaf deciduous trees, like American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) and White Ash (Fraxinus americana). At the site of the oxbow where we studied the input of leaf litter, there was a mix of larger trees like Sycamore, but there was also a large presence of the invasive Honeysuckle tree (Lonicera maackii). Because of the density of trees surrounding the river, compared to the density of trees reaching over top the river, we hypothesized that the leaf litter from entering the river laterally would be greater than the leaf litter entering the river vertically.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Course Project

Primary Advisor

Chelse M. Prather, Ryan William Reihart

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium project, College of Arts and Sciences

Differences in leaf litter rates in forests: Lateral vs. vertical input of leaf litter into a broadleaf forest river