Skip to main content

Congratulations Alejandro Prieto for Winning the 2023 Pilot Grant Award

Posted by on Monday, December 18, 2023 in Uncategorized.

Congratulations to one of our graduate students, Alejandro Prieto, for Winning the 2023 Pilot Grant Award in Evolutionary Studies.

Newsletter, page 21

Preserving Tennessee’s Unique Ecosystem

Limestone cedar glades, a distinctive and fragile ecosystem, are primarily located within the Central Basin of middle Tennessee. Dr. Elsie Quarterman, a pioneering figure in Biological Sciences at Vanderbilt, laid the foundation for understanding the ecology of these glades. The glades, characterized by Lebanon limestone and a karst topography resulting from water erosion, face seasonal variations that pose unique challenges to the flora inhabiting them.


In an effort to safeguard the unique limestone cedar glades of middle Tennessee, a team of researchers led by Alejandro Prieto, a PhD student in Earth and Environmental Sciences, is conducting a study. The project, in collaboration with advisors Dr. Jorge and Dr. Darroch,  Dr. Dennis from the Friends of Mill Ridge Park, and undergraduate student Dante Hernandez, aims to assess the impact of anthropogenic landscape changes and develop an effective management plan for the cedar glades at Mill Ridge Park in Antioch, TN.


Goals & Hypotheses:

With Mill Ridge Park transitioning into a public space, the research team aims to assess the impact of approximately 150 years of anthropogenic landscape changes on the cedar glades. The delicate nature of this ecosystem requires a multidisciplinary approach, merging expertise in ecology and geology. The goal is to survey local plant diversity, identify potential threats, and develop an effective management plan.