Wilkes University

Lehigh Gap Food Web

Lehigh Gap Food Web


A heavily polluted mountainside near Palmerton, PA is being restored by the Lehigh Gap Nature Center using warm season grasses, which have the C4 photosynthetic pathway and different proportions of the stable isotopes of carbon compared to plants with C3 photosynthesis such as cool season grasses or broad-leafed plants. Animals that consume C4 grasses will have isotopic ratios similar to those grasses. By analyzing isotopic ratios of tissue from invertebrates and vertebrates collected from the site, we are studying the food web as it is reassembled during restoration.

For more information contact Dr. Ned Fetcher

Warm Season Grasses in June, 2010, at Lehigh Gap Nature Center
Rachel Curtis harvesting aboveground biomass on restored warm season grassland at Lehigh Gap. Almost 99% of the aboveground plant biomass at the site is from warm season grasses.

George Haleem and Jeff Stratford at the restored site with the shed skin of an eastern rat snake, a top predator.  Analysis of a small piece of the skin showed that most of the carbon in the snake did not come from warm season grasses.