of the trees in the arboretum is a sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virgin-
iana). Information on this tree’s web page includes details about its
mutualistic relationship with its beetle and hummingbird pollina-
tors, its role as an important food plant for birds and small mam-
mals, and its value as a larval food plant for lepidopterans (e.g.,
tiger swallowtail, Palamedes swallowtail, spicebush swallowtail,
Importantly, this model also takes advantage of readily accessible
local environments and commonly available tools (smart devices) to
provide opportunities that may enhance individual ecological knowl-
edge. When asked about their experiences with the online guide and
the tree tours, several students made statements offering preliminary
support for this approach. For instance, a student in an upper-division
life science course for preservice elementary teachers noted its useful-
ness and novelty. She stated, “The whole tree tour thing helped me
and the class in general . . . and it’s on your phone. Like, that’s neat.”
It also creates an easily updated and interactive campus resource for
faculty, students, and visitors that reduces constraints associated with
technology development and maintenance (e.g., app development
and updating) while distributing biological metadata to the global
research community. Perhaps most importantly, it may also help indi-
viduals connect with the giants in our midst and appreciate the critical
roles they play in our environment.
The authors thank Steve Baskauf at Vanderbilt University for his
important contributions to this project. Special thanks are also given
to the reviewers of this manuscript for their valuable feedback.
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Figure 4. Screenshot showing the Find Me! button, tree location,
and student location on a web page for Liriodendron tulipifera.
Figure 5. Example of a “Tree Tour Activity Guide.”