Fellow: Jennie Rambo

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Campus:   Arizona State University
Contact Email:   tortoise@imap2.asu.edu
Topic:   Habitat
Academic Year:   2002-2003
Case Studies:   None
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Fellow Details:   By establishing models of environmentally sensitive landscapes on campus, Jennie Rambo is working to restore indigenous vegetation and thus conserve water and sustain native wildlife in urban Phoenix.

Jennie is providing ecology laboratories for the life science departments, as well as wildlife habitat, permanent additions to the ASU arboretum, and community outreach. She is helping to create a network of native plant and wildlife habitats throughout the greater Phoenix area by providing a landscape model and a community education program, which includes K-12 students. Through the Native Habitat Project, she intends to promote an understanding of the ecological importance and diversity of native plants, their pollinators and wildlife. She also hopes to draw attention to the plight of native biotic communities and to encourage the appreciation and stewardship of the Sonoran desert.

Jennie is also producing The Native Habitat Project Book, a small, color publication on the importance of native plants in cities, how to establish native wildlife habitats, comprehensive indigenous plant profiles, and resources. She is teaching the first in a series of educational workshops for members of the campus and community on establishing habitats for native plants and wildlife, water conservation and organic gardening principles. Finally, she is giving a tour of the new Arizona wildflower area and the mesquite woodland for a restoration ecology class. In the future, biology students will able to visit the wildflower area to learn about desert plant adaptations.

Arizona State University is located near the Salt River, which historically supported cottonwood-willow and mesquite forest, and Tempe Butte, a desert remnant that continues to support Arizona Upland Sonoran desert. Currently, no local educational programs in the area focus on indigenous plants or landscaping for diverse urban wildlife. Jennie and other life sciences students have founded the Native Habitat Society, and an advisory council--consisting of professors and students in the life sciences--is forming. The council includes biology and plant biology faculty members, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, graduate and undergraduate student representatives, a habitat director and experts in plant ecology, wildlife conservation, education, urban horticulture and restoration ecology.

Jennie is a graduate student in biology. She graduated in 1999 from ASU with a B.S. in biology and a B.A. in studio art. She has completed several years of research in community-level ecology, which focused on effects of vertebrate grazing and fire on understory plant and insect communities in Ponderosa pine forests. Her master's research involves animal dispersal over fragmented landscapes and urban ecology. She was an assistant teacher of introductory biology for non-majors for two semesters.

For two years, Jennie worked for Liberty Wildlife, a local wildlife rehabilitation organization, as a hotline and rescue volunteer. She has helped organize a successful grassroots movement to save Tempe Butte (one of the last remaining remnants of Sonoran desert near campus) from commercial development. In 1996, Jennie converted her own front yard and two areas of the ASU campus to native wildflowers, and transformed her backyard swimming pool into a pond to support orphaned and injured mallard ducks. She wishes to apply her research, writing and art to help preserve native wildflowers and wild lands, and to maintain a place for wildlife in cities.