Abstract: Serpentine soils are formed from ultramafic rocks and are represent an extreme environment for plants. Serpentine soils are unique in that they carry high concentrations of heavy metals, are nutrient deficient, particularly in calcium, and have poor water retention capabilities. Although these soils constitute harsh conditions for plant growth, there are a number of species that are adapted and even endemic to serpentine soil. Water retention by commercial potting mix was compared with serpentine soil. Also, serpentine adapted and non-adapted species were grown in both soil treatments and physiological data were collected. We used the Arduino electronic platform to collect data such as moisture levels and photosynthetic activity. An advantage of Arduino-based data collection is low cost and the availability of a wide array of sensors. An Arduino-based cartesian coordinate robotic system was created to automate data collection from a set of small potted plants in a grid formation.


Biology | Botany | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Evolution | Hardware Systems | Plant Biology | Robotics


Edward Himelblau

Lab site

California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly SLO)

Funding Acknowledgement

This material is based upon work supported by a grant from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and the California State University STEM Teacher Researcher Program. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.



URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/star/414


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.