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Student Involvement

Creative Inquiry Spring 2014

Creative Inquiry

Vegetative Succession in Restored Wetland and Stream Ecosystem: Hunnicutt Creek Case Study has been an ongoing Creative Inquiry since Spring 2014.


Boss Men
Left: Dr. Cal Sawyer, Jeremy Pike, Dr. Donald Hagan


The best intern out thereCarolyn Lanza is a senior studying Environmental and Natural Resources: Conservation Biology. She has been a part of the wetland and stream restoration of Hunnicutt Creek since her sophomore year. She is currently working on creating an invasive species management plan for Clemson’s campus and coordinating volunteer groups to help with invasive vegetation removal. Carolyn plans to continue her education by attending graduate school for stream restoration.

The 2nd best intern

Brett Kelly is a Junior Wildlife and Fisheries major from Abbeville South Carolina. He is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys trout fishing and duckhunting. His role with undergraduate research is primarily related to stream health. He assists Jeremy Pike with multi-habitat macroinvertebrate samples in many upstate streams. He collects macroinvertebrate samples afield and then brings them to the lab to be sorted taxonomically. He also assists other interns with various water quality monitoring duties on Clemson’s campus. 


Sean McKinney is currently conducting laboratory analysis and field collection for 3 separate research projects. He helps managelaboratory activities and has taken on the responsibility of lab's vehicle maintenance. He is soon to be involved with the field operations for the Intelligent River Project on Clemson University's campus. Additionally, he will be involved in sensor installation, maintenance, and calibration.

Left: Sean Mckinney, Brett Kelly, Carolyn Lanza


Focus on Creative Inquiry 2016 (3rd Place!)

paper team
Left: Alicia McAlhaney. Julia Riley, Carolyn Lanza

Focus on Creative Inquiry 2015

2 cool people
Left: Gary Pence and Dr. Cal Sawyer
Stream Team Dream Team
Left: Brett Kelly, Nate Slaton, Carolyn Lanza, Sean Mckinney

S.C. Water Resources Conference 2014

Beaver Buddies
Left: Alicia McAlhaney, Brett Kelly, Daniel Dixon, Carolyn Lanza

Research Projects

South Carolina Adopt-A-Stream

South Carolina Adopt-A-Stream (SCAAS) is a volunteer-based monitoring program that has branched from the original Georgia Adopt-A-Stream. The program’s five goals are summarized by ADOPT: increase public Awareness, collect quality baseline water quality Data, gather Observations, encourage Partnerships between citizens and their local government, and provide citizens with the Tools and Training to evaluate and protect their local waterways. SCAAS emphasizes research regarding chemical qualities (pH, temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen), bacteria (E.coli), macroinvertebrates, and amphibians. We have implemented these SCAAS protocols into our adaptive management plan and are monitoring the stream and adjacent wetland for both chemical and biological factors. These factors will be monitored monthly with the results uploaded to the SCAAS website to form a documented data set. The data collected from these surveys help us to determine overall water quality and stream health for not only the restoration site, but for the Hunnicutt Creek watershed as a whole. To learn more about this program, visit Clemson's webpage.


MacrosIdentifying and counting aquatic macroinvertebrates reveals the ecological integrity of a habitat and reflects the synergistic effects of the environmental conditions. Certain species are more sensitive to pollution than others, so the presence or absence of a population provides insight on overall stream quality. A D-frame net was used to sample a variety of habitats, including woody debris with leaf packs, the vegetative bank margin, and the stream bed. The species collected at Hunnicutt Creek indicate that the majority are only somewhat sensitive to pollution while most of the macroinvertebrates of the reference site are sensitive. A change in the species composition of Hunnicutt is expected in the future as the site improves.


Amphibian monitoring has been established in the restored sections of Hunnicutt Creek and around the wetland to discover the species Tree frogrichness. A reference site has been determined in the North Forest, which serves as a model for the wetland’s progress. Coverboards and PVC pipe have been installed throughout the stream restoration. The coverboards are 1’X1’X1” boards that are put on the ground, intended to attract salamanders, snakes, and other animals avoiding the sun. The PVC pipes are designed to allow treefrogs to enter and feel safe from predators protecting them from almost every side. Both are placed next to the stream and the wetland to ensure a higher capture rate. Six stations are set up along the stream and wetland reach, with two PVC pipes and two coverboards at each station. Since the PVC pipes are only used by a few species of treefrogs, the team listens for frog calls in the evenings to more thoroughly detect all of the different frogs species present.

Propagation of Native Plant Species

PropogationDuring the restorative process, propagation is a technique used to introduce native plant species back into the restorative area. Native plant species include Paw Paw (Asimina), Sweet Shrub (Calycanthus), certain fern species, Spice Bush (Lindera), etc. There are a variety of methods that can be used to propagate plant species. The vegetative team for the creative inquiry used clippings and plantings of these clippings in the greenhouse to stimulate root growth and plant growth of these various species. The hope is that the root system will develop enough and the plant will be large enough to then transfer into the wetland and stream area. Multiple clippings of each species are desired in order to be able to reproduce and have genetically different offspring once transferred and matured in the restorative areas. Some species propagate easier than others and the creative inquiry aimed to study which plant species would work best.