Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources


Ecology and Evolution Graduate Program Newsletter


February 2006


Previous newsletters may be found at:








Greg Dahle, a Ph.D. student in Jason Grabosky’s lab, delivered a presentation titled: “Trees & Pavement: Design strategies for establishing trees around impervious materials” at the  2006 Mid-Atlantic Horticulture Short Course, held in Virginia Beach, VA on Feb 1.


Jason Grabosky was busy as always:

  • On  Feb 11th  Jason spoke at the Long Island Arboricultural Association Annual Conference. His talk was titled : “Trees and construction damage.”
  • On Feb 17th Jason spoke on “Integration of Trees and Pavement” at the Texas Urban Forestry Conference.


David Moskowitz, a Ph.D. student in Michael May’s lab, gave a presentation entitled "Wetlands, Category One Waters, Vernal Pools and Threatened and Endangered Species" on February 8th at the Rutgers University Continuing Professional Education Seminar on Environmental Law and Regulation.

David will also be speaking at the East Brunswick Public Library on March 2nd on "Vernal Pools - The Oasis in the Forest". 


Joe Paulin, a Ph.D. student in the David Ehrenfeld lab, has been speaking with groups throughout NJ. His presentations follow:

·        Joe spoke to Bergen County grounds managers on reducing human-wildlife conflicts and decreasing wildlife damage.

·        He gave a presentation to Mercer County Master Gardeners on reducing wildlife damage around the home and garden.

·       Joe  was invited to give a seminar for faculty and undergraduate students at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey titled “Human and wildlife interactions: Madagascar crocodiles and New Jersey Black Bears”


Jordan, R.C., D.V. Howe, Beavers, A., Dean, A., and Gould J.L. 2006. Female preferential association with members of their own population in Poecilia gilli (Poeciliidae). Journal of Freshwater Ecology 21: 47-52.


    Faculty Achievements and Activities:

Faculty members of the Ecology and Evolution Graduate Program hosted a workshop on February 8th titled: “Teaching evolution at Rutgers: Symposium and Workshop.”  The workshop was hosted by Jody Hey, Lena Struwe, Chi-hua Chiu, Karl Kjer, Rebecca Jordan, and Peter Smouse. Over 150 faculty and students from various units across the university attended this successful workshop.


Steven Handel is a member of the design team that just has won the international competition, against 23 other teams, to design and build the Orange County (California) Great Park.  This will be a 1,300 acre public park built on a former Marine Corps air base, El Toro Air Base. 

The land is now flat and covered with concrete runways and hangers.  Much of the land will be ecologically restored to wetlands, meadows, coastal sage scrub, and so on.  Even some birds.  The Handel lab will determine proper restoration targets and protocols, and supervise the

work, in conjunction with architects, engineers, and landscape architects. The county has allocated $200 million for construction of the Great Park. The park is near to Univ. California - Irvine, and collaborative work with their faculty and students, assisting Rutgers, is being planned.

Steven  would appreciate NOT having endless "OC" or "Laguna Beach" jokes tossed at him.  And no, he is not taking surfing lessons from Buffy. 


Advisory Panels:

Julie Lockwood is a member of the Technical Review Committee for New Jersey Audubon's Important Bird Areas Program.  She participated on February 9th, at a meeting held at the Plainsboro Preserve, in the latest effort to evaluate nominated sites.


On February 2, Julie Lockwood and Alison Siegel, a Ph.D. candidate in Julie’s lab, attended a meeting of the Land Owner Incentive Program on monitoring grassland birds in New Jersey. This program is hosted by the New Jersey Endangered Species Program and New Jersey Audubon.  Alison and Julie provided recommendations to a group that will be surveying for grassland birds throughout the state this year and specifically on property enrolled in various State and Federally sponsored private landowner incentive programs.         




Student Awards, Achievements, and Activities:

Alex Felson, a Ph.D. student in Steward T.A. Pickett’s lab, and the landscape architecture firm EDAW received the New York American Society of Landscape Architecture Merit Award 2005 for the Idlewild Experimental Research and Education Center.  Alex will be designing the project to include specific research topics as part of his Ph.D. thesis in E&E.


Jean Maire Molina, a Ph.D. candidate in Lena Struwe’s lab, received a $1000 scholarship from Annie’s Homegrown (yes, the mac and cheese people) for research purposes. The program is called Annie’s Environmental Studies Scholarships.


David Moskowitz and the East Brunswick Environmental Commission  have begun the updates on the website for the "Great Salamander Migration" where they will once again (The 3rd Annual) be closing a road in East Brunswick\South Brunswick to allow the spotted salamanders to migrate across the road to their breeding pools. More than 150 people came out last year to watch and help. Updates and an email notice list can be obtained on the East Brunswick Environmental Commission website @ 


Several students participated in The "Science and the Law" Seminar co-organized by Beth Ravit (Rutgers Environmental Research Clinic -- Cook College) and Richard Webster (Rutgers Environmental Law Clinic -- RU School of Law, Newark) on January 20th. The Seminar was composed of graduate students in the various sciences from Cook College and law students from RU School of Law (Newark). This was  the inauguration of an exciting exchange between these student groups.  Participants from E&E included Shannon Galbraith-Kent from Steven Handel’s lab, Aabir Banerji and Jennifer Adams Krumins from Peter Morin’s lab and  Kristen Ross and Emilie Stander from Joan Ehrenfeld’s lab.


Qualifiers and Prelims:

Congratulations to Jean Maire Molina, a Lena Struwe student, on the successful completion of her qualifying exam and thus her advancement to Candidacy in the Ph.D. program.


Congratulations also go to the following students for the successful defense of their Preliminary Research Proposal:

  • Dennis Gray, a Ph.D. candidate in John Dighton’s lab., on January 20th
  • Celine Santiago Bass, a Ph.D. candidate in Judy Weis’ lab, on February 1st
  • Jonathon Schramm, a Ph.D. candidate in Joan Ehrenfeld’s lab, on February 9th.



John Brzorad, Ph.D. 1994, advisor Joanna Burger, has accepted a new position as the Director of the Thomas W. Reese Institute for the Conservation of Natural Resources at Lenoir-Rhyne College, NC.


J.C. Clement, a former post-doc in Joan Ehrenfeld’s lab, announces the birth of his daughter Gabrielle. Gabrielle was born February 19th. Gwen, Gabrielle and J.C. are all doing well. J.C. is at the Laboratoire  d’Ecologie Alpine in Grenoble, France.




John Graham  Ph.D. 1986, advisor Robert Vrijenhoek , is a co-author on a recent paper published in Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. The authors have been working on the Big Sagebrush Hybrid Zone for 17 years.  This is a summary of a 9-year reciprocal-transplant experiment. These results partly support the Bounded Hybrid Superiority model and show the importance of long- term studies of hybrid fitness. 

  • Miglia, K. J., E. D. McArthur, W. Moore, H. Wang, J. H. Graham, and D. C. Freeman.  2005.  Nine-year reciprocal transplant experiment in the gardens of the basin and mountain big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata: Asteraceae) hybrid zone of Salt Creek Canyon: the importance of multiple-year tracking of fitness.  Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 86: 213-225.


Mark Laska, Ph.D 1996, advisor Peter Morin, now has 8 full time people working for him in NYC at Great Eastern Ecology, Inc.  You can find out more information about his firm at


Mark reports the following publications, one co-authored with Lisamarie Windham, Ph.D. 1999, advisor Joan Ehrenfeld :

  • Restoration Program Assessment of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System by David J. Yozzo and Mark S. Laska. Ecological Restoration, Vol. 24, No. 1, 2006 pp 13-21

·        Evaluating Urban Wetland Restorations: Case Studies for Assessing Connectivity and Function by Lisamarie Windham, Mark S. Laska, and Jennifer Wollenberg. Urban Habitats, Vol. 2, No. 1: December 2004 (