College of Charleston
Journal of Undergraduate Biological Investigations (JUBI)
An web-based journal of biological investigations conducted in general education
introductory biology at the College of Charleston

This on-line journal provides a forum for students to present the results of biological investigations and projects conducted in Introductory Biology lab at the College of Charleston.  The laboratory allows students to explore important biological concepts and processes in the context of how science is done.  The lab curriculum is structured to gradually give students practice doing various aspects of science, and culminates in a team project in which students propose, design, conduct, write, and present a scientific research project.  Moreover, peer-review of research proposals and articles allows students to experience how the scientific community establishes and agrees upon the validity of scientific knowledge.  In this way students experience the power that science has to reveal the workings of the natural world, and also the limitations, and tentativeness of this knowledge.  These aspects of science literacy are essential if citizens are to use and evaluate scientific knowledge in order to make informed decisions about science-related issues. 

For more information about this project visit Problem-Based Learning & Scientific Inquiry in Introductory Biology (NSF DUE 0410720) and Undergraduate Science Programs at the College of Charleston (HHMI Grant Supported Project)

Journal Submissions:

Each semester, exemplary articles or project papers are nominated by the lab instructors for publication.  All articles submitted for publication in JUBI have been reviewed/edited by a team of the author's peers, the author's lab instructor, and at least one CofC Biology Department faculty member. The planning, design and implementation of each investigation was completed by a team of students; however, each article is in large measure written by a single author (the first author on the paper).  Subsequent authors are the first author's teammates who participated in the planning and execution of the project.  

Resources for students:

Fuenfstueck, Laura (2015), The Effect of Color on Gross Primary Productivity in Palmetto Tree Leaves, College of Charleston, SC
Chlorophylls are the main pigments in photosynthesis; thus, color might be an indicator of photosynthetic productivity and possibly a helpful tool for decision-making in horticulture. This study investigated the effect of color on gross primary productivity (GPP) in palmetto tree leaves.  Leaves were collected, categorized into two groups (yellow and green) and gross primary productivity was determined using the CO2 uptake method.  There was no significant relationship between the GPP rates and leaf color in palmetto trees (p = 0.66). This suggests that leaf color has no effect on photosynthetic productivity, and that palmetto leaves must have mechanisms for maintaining high photosynthetic rates even when leaves change color.

Hammond, Ellery (2013) Comparing Metabolic Rates of Invasive Species versus Native Species of Plants, College of Charleston, SC.

There are a variety of native and invasive plants in the downtown Charleston area. Our study examined why invasive/nonnative species of plants flourish in a different environment than the natural ecosystem in which they are meant to thrive? This investigation examined the differences in productivity between native and invasive species. Our hypothesis was that nonnative/invasive plant species thrive in a non-native environment because they have higher GPP then native plants. In this study we examined one native species; palmetto trees, and one invasive species; bamboo trees. GPP rates were calculated using the CO2 uptake method by measuring the rate of CO2 uptake and release in light and dark environments. The results from the study revealed that the invasive bamboo species had significantly higher GPP levels then the native palmetto plants. Further exploration of the metabolism of these species showed that bamboo had higher respiratory rates and rates of NPP compared to palmetto. Research has suggested that because invasive species metabolize more quickly than native species in the same ecosystem, invasive species are able to thrive and flourish in regions that are considered atypical ecosystems for that plant.

Arruda, Olivia (2012). The Effect of Uca pugilator Shell Color on Heat Absorption and Metabolic Rate., College of Charleston, SC.
This study investigated how the darker coloring of the sand fiddler crab (Uca pugilator) affects their metabolic rate by attracting more heat. Fifteen trials were conducted with five dark crabs in each, and fifteen trials were conducted with five light crabs in each. Darker sand fiddler crabs have a dark brown carapace while lighter sand fiddler crabs have a light tan carapace. The average rate of change was determined from each treatment. A significant association was found between the color of the sand fiddler crab’s carapace and the rate of [CO2](p=01533). The metabolic rate of the darker crabs was an average of about 0.75 [ppm/min/g]) higher than the metabolic rate of the lighter crabs. Therefore, in warmer environments, sand fiddler crabs with a dark carapace will have a higher metabolic rate. This suggests that depending on where a sand fiddler crab dwells, in a hot or cold environment, its metabolic rate will be affected by the color of the crab’s carapace in order to maintain homeostasis.

Pirkkala, Rachel, December 2010.  Effect of Leaf Surface Area Color on Photosynthetic Rate of Solenostemon scutellarioides
The rate of photosynthesis (Gross Photosynthetic Productivity (GPP)) in plants can be affected by many factors. This experiment explores the effect of leaf surface area color in plants having more or less red pigment on the rate of photosynthesis of the Solenostemon scutellarioides. CO2 probes were used to measure the amount of CO2 given off and taken in by the plant in light and dark environments. This was used to calculate GPP occurring within the chloroplasts.  Plants with more anthocyanin or red pigment were found to undergo photosynthesis at a slower rate than plants with less of the pigment present. The mean rate of CO2 absorption for the leaves with a greater red surface area was found to be significantly greater than that of leaves with a greater surface area of green (t= 1.93; p = 0.0426). These values suggest that the color of the leaves of a plant can affect the way that it grows, and that leaves with a greater surface area of red undergo photosynthesis at a slower rate.

Latham, J. March, 2009. The Effect of Gender on Metabolic Rate in Fiddler Crabs.

Little information is currently known about the effect of gender on metabolic rate. This study investigated the effect of gender on cellular respiration of fiddler crabs during a ten minute time span. It was hypothesized that female fiddler crabs would have higher cell respiratory rates than male fiddler crabs because of the higher respiratory demands of reproduction. The average metabolic rate of 3 fiddler crabs of the same gender was determined by measuring the rate of CO2 emission (ppm/min/g).  A total of 5 trails (15 males and 15 females) was conducted.  Although females consistently had slightly higher rates of CO2 production, there was no significant effect of gender and cellular respiration rates.  This suggests that gender plays little role in metabolic rate in fiddler crabs, but the low sample size of our experiment precludes definitive conclusions.

Jones, Emily,  Elle Rich, Esther Kim, Chris Philips, 2007.  The Effect of Pigmentation on Photosynthetic Rate in Two Species of Caladium: Caladium candidum and Caladium bicolor.
This study investigated the possible relationship between leaf pigmentation and photosynthetic rate in two varieties of Caladium. Since plants come in all different colors, can the survival of a plant be influenced by the amount of pigmentation (which is a reflection of the amount of chlorophyll)?  Along with other needs for survival, do plants also need a certain amount of pigmentation on its leaves to help it absorb light from the sun?  CO2 uptake for four trials of each species of Caladium was measured over a twenty-minute interval where the leaves were exposed to ten minutes of full-spectrum fluorescent light (simulating sunlight) and then ten minutes of darkness.  The total photosynthetic rate was calculated and then divided by the mass of the leaf being used.  We found that there was no statistical relationship between leaf pigmentation and total photosynthetic rate.  This suggested that in the case of Caladium, the two species contrasting colorings has no affect on their total photosynthetic rate.

Ashley Pulley, Brian Blase, Catherine Dawson (2008).  A Comparison of the Effect of Light Intensity on Photosynthetic Rates of Pittosporum spp. Leaves.
Many people are concerned with the consequences of global warming on increased cloud cover and the effects this has on plants’ ability to photosynthesize.  This study investigated the effect of light intensity on photosynthetic rates (PR) of Pittosporum spp. leaves.  Four different lumin intensities of lights were used to measure the carbon dioxide uptake of Pittosporum spp. leaves.  There was a direct, but not statistically significant, relationship between increased light intensity and increased photosynthetic rates (r2 = 0.756, p = 0.131).  These results currently show no relationship between increased light intensity and increased photosynthetic rates.  However, due to time constraints, we were only able to test six samples at each light intensity.  This low sample along with other factors related to experimental design may have been the source of the non-significant relationship between intensity and PR.

Bishop, Jessica, 2007.  A comparison of the photosynthetic rates of wetland plants vs. non-wetland plants based on the uptake of CO2.
There are several varying soil types in the Low country of South Carolina.  Each of these soil types has different nutrients to offer many different species of plants.  This experiment investigated the difference between the photosynthetic rates of non-wetland plants and wetland plants.  In this experiment, samples from a common non-wetland plant, Liriope muscari, and samples from a common wetland plant, Spartina alterniflora, were taken.  Then, the photosynthetic rates of the non-wetland plant and the wetland plant were determined.  The results of the statistical analysis determined that there was not a significant difference between the photosynthetic rates of the non-wetland plant and the wetland plant (P(T<=t) one tail was 0.42).  This suggests that the soil type of the common location for a plant does not significantly affect the overall photosynthetic rate of the plant.  However, upon subsequent analysis of the data, we did discover a significantly greater cell respiratory rate in Spartina (p<0.01).  This difference may be due to the energy costs of salt extrusion salt marsh plants.

Abernathy, Karen, 2007.  A comparison of the effect of decreased light transmission on the photosynthetic rate of variegated Pittosporum leaves.
Scientists have found that greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere significantly contribute to global warming. The effect light transmission has on photosynthetic rate offers interesting natural solutions to global warming.  This study investigates how light transmitted through different light filters affects the photosynthetic rate of variegated pittosporum leaves. The control group leaves were placed under a clear filter while the experimental group leaves were placed under a gray filter that decreases light transmission by 50%.  Both groups were placed under dark and light conditions and the total photosynthetic rate was calculated (light-dark).  The samples under the gray filter showed a 75% decrease in photosynthetic rate.  This difference was significant (p = 0.023; df=5 t-test statistic = -2.607).  This experiment offers a wide range of possibilities for real world applications such as weed prevention and improved air quality.

Holt, Dailey, Aton, E. and Colley, R. 2006. The Rate of Change of CO2 Concentration Released During Cellular Respiration Comparing Healthy and Unhealthy Leaves of the Sacred Bamboo Plant.  
Scientists have suggested that an organism’s rate of cellular respiration is affected by the health of that organism. The effect of the level of health of an organism on its rate of cellular respiration was studied. The rate of change of carbon dioxide released per gram of both unhealthy and healthy Sacred Bamboo leaves was recorded. Healthy leaves released carbon dioxide at a rate higher than that of the unhealthy leaves. We found a statistically significant relationship between the health of a leaf and the leaf’s rate of cellular respiration. This suggests that the health of an organism directly affects organism’s rate of cellular respiration.

Miller, Emily and Forsell, M. 2006.  The Effects of Increased Temperatures on Cellular Respiration Rates in Snapdragon Plants.
Global warming and its possible implications on the future of plant growth and agriculture have recently gained much attention from researchers.  The effect of elevated temperatures on cellular respiration rates in snapdragon plants was investigated.  An experiment was set up to record the cellular respiration rates of twenty different snapdragon plants, ten in an ambient temperature environment and ten in a manipulated elevated temperature environment.  Data from both groups of snapdragon plants was recorded and analyzed.  Results derived from both sets of data concluded that there is no significant relationship between temperature and rates of cellular respiration in snapdragon plants.  The results found in the experiment opposed the popular notion that increasing temperatures worldwide will result in enhanced plant and agricultural growth.