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USING VIRTUAL TOUR AND INTERACTIVE IMAGERY TO TEACH UNDERSTANDING AND ASSESSMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL GRADIENTS AND SEASONAL CHANGE IN NATURE TRAILS. Carmen.

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Presentation on theme: "USING VIRTUAL TOUR AND INTERACTIVE IMAGERY TO TEACH UNDERSTANDING AND ASSESSMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL GRADIENTS AND SEASONAL CHANGE IN NATURE TRAILS. Carmen."— Presentation transcript:

1 USING VIRTUAL TOUR AND INTERACTIVE IMAGERY TO TEACH UNDERSTANDING AND ASSESSMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL GRADIENTS AND SEASONAL CHANGE IN NATURE TRAILS. Carmen R. Cid, School of Arts and Sciences, James A. (Drew) Hyatt, Dept. of Environmental Earth Science, Eastern Connecticut State University Figure 1. Arboretum home page with various level links to video content, interactive media, image galleries, and reports examining the biology, geology and hydrology of the site. Path, Trail & Stream Interactions Virtual spins, and walks Interactive multi-season views INTRODUCTION This poster reports on efforts building virtual resources that facilitate access to spatial and seasonal variation in the biology, hydrology, and geology of the Eastern Connecticut State University Arboretum, an environmental field laboratory and nature trail. Virtual content is accessed through a website portal (Fig. 1). These digital resources have been used to enhance K-12 science education and engage undergraduate science and non-science majors in developing environmental management plans that account for environmental variation. Overview of site, Stream Geology Beaver Dam, Flora-Fauna Interactions Wonderwise Women in Science Series Map, Fauna, Flora Galleries, Fungi / Other Life, Human Impact Galleries, Stream & Pond, Tree, Understory Galleries Trail Brochure, Geologic Setting Arboretum Sleuth Game, Pond Sediments Land Use Change – Erosion, & Deposition ARBORETUM LABORATORY The Eastern Arboretum (≈19 acres) (Figure 1a), serves as an on-campus learning resource for students, educators, and visitors with interests in biology, geology, hydrology, or simply a desire to hike the ≈ 1.3 km of nature trail. The site is adjacent to the expanding urban fringe of Willimantic, CT, and has experienced substantial human-induced land use change including progressive urbanization, highway and road construction, hydrologic modifications, and expansion of adjacent residential housing (Figure 2a- f). These changes together with topographic and seasonal influences create environmental gradients that influence biodiversity. dbcd a ef 2008 Figure 2. Historical aerial photographs of Eastern’s Arboretum and surrounding lands. Land use change has occurred as suburban Willimantic spread northward such that the site is now surrounded by residential housing (W, S and E), with a major interstate highway to the north. Virtual resources examine the biology and geology of conditions at locations and transects identified in Fig. 2a. Recent construction of a new subdivision resulted in significant runoff and deposition of sands east of the property. Arboretum Property Pond New Subdivision Trail Marker with Virtual Spins & Walks Interstate 6 Culvert Inflow Video Vignettes Interactive Elements Image/Map Galleries Links To Undergraduate Research WEBSITE The Arboretum interactive web site provides access to digital resources that illustrate the influence of spatial and seasonal gradients on the biota of an on-campus forest/wetland. These include conventional and interactive imagery, video with expert commentary, repeat and interactive imagery that enables users to simultaneously view and move through the forest, or conduct panoramic rotations comparing more than one season of the year, and 360-degree stitched imagery rendered interactive by applying real estate software to build virtual tour components. SPATIAL GRADIENTS Figure 3. Stitched panoramic images depicting key landscapes in the Arboretum illustrating spatial and seasonal habitat variations. (a) Gentle side slopes display variation in soil conditions and vegetation. (b) A small first-order stream drains water from the Eastern campus, crossing boulder-rich glacial till - the stream channel is shown entrenched and armored with boulders and cobbles. Further down valley, the stream crosses onto stratified drift with fewer boulders and higher sand concentrations - after which flow enters (c) a small and shallow pond. dammed pond & wetland (autumn) (c) small stream & flood plain (autumn) (b) gentle valley-side slope (autumn) (a) Landscapes within the Arboretum vary spatially relative to the underlying gneissic bedrock and uneven erosion/deposition during the last glaciation. This has resulted in (a) gentle valley-side slopes which drain surface waters into (b) a small stream that carries campus runoff and shallow groundwater northward to (c) a small pond and wetland complex which in turn drains under highway 6 to the Natchaug River. Flora and fauna differ at these sites because of varying topographic, soil, and moisture conditions. SEASONAL GRADIENTS Seasonal variation in vegetation at the Arboretum is striking (Figure 4), but may not be readily apparent to visitors with a single visit to the site. Moreover, the timing of vegetative growth does not necessarily lend itself to scheduling class visits. Web resources characterize seasonal variation through repeat photography, detailed image galleries, and interactive multiseason virtual walks and spins. Figure 4. Contrasting views of the pond in (a) summer and (b) winter illustrating dramatic seasonal change. Virtual content also features interactive comparisons of seasonal change along the path and along transects from the path to the stream. Varying moisture conditions influence vegetation cover as is evident from (c) which depicts conditions at the stream near marker number 2 in in autumn, winter, spring, and summer (from left to right). (a) (b) (c) dammed pond & wetland (summer) dammed pond & wetland (winter) autumnwinterspringsummer Image space


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