It squirted on me! Introducing students to plant science with ecological studies of Cyclanthera dissecta

Poster Session
, Melani - Southwestern Oklahoma State University
, Lisa - Southwestern Oklahoma State University

For six years, students at Southwestern Oklahoma State University have been given the chance to engage in fieldwork and data manipulation while working with Cyclanthera dissecta (=C. naudiniana: Cucurbitaceae), a weedy annual vine that is native to Oklahoma. Despite being related to known medicinal and edible plants (e.g. Cyclanthera pedata), little is known about this plant with exploding seed pods. The interesting physical characteristics and lack of extensive previous research have made this plant a good fit for student research. Data collection has focused primarily on population size (ranging from 14 to 326 plants in one population) and location of all individuals.  Students have analyzed the correlation between drought and population decline and are investigating influences of other factors including timing of first freeze, disease transmission, and seed germination on population size.