One of the things that makes Saint Francis University different from other colleges is our commitment to research and faculty mentorship. Our students conduct research in small teams that work closely with faculty members in dedicated student/faculty research labs. Many students begin research as freshmen, and students can work with multiple faculty on different projects over their four years.
Two first-year SFU Biology students, Taylin Lehman and Morgan Ruis, along with Associate Professor Dr. Lane Loya, recently discovered larvae of the rare Tiger Spiketail dragonfly (Cordulegaster erronea) inhabiting the campus watershed trail stream. This species previously had not been documented to inhabit Cambria County or the surrounding area, so the research contributes to a better understanding of its geographic distribution. The Tiger Spiketail is not yet considered endangered in Pennsylvania, but as a special concern species is ranked as "vulnerable" in the state due to the threat of habitat destruction and groundwater disturbance. Larvae of the species are typically found only in small, forested headwater streams and seeps, such as those found on University grounds.
Dr. Loya adds "The students and I are excited to have the opportunity to study the ecology of a rare species of insect occurring right here on campus, and we look forward to learning more about its natural history and conservation for many years to come." Continued research on the Tiger Spiketail dragonfly is planned, including studies of the adults of the species during their emergence and breeding periods in the summer, as well as studies on the behavior and habitat preference of the larvae.
High school students will also have an opportunity to be involved in the research of this and other species this summer when attending the From Dragons to DNA Summer STEM academy program at the end of June. Learn more about our summer academies at https://www.francis.edu/STEM-Summer-Academies/