Department of Ecology,
Evolution and Natural Resources
Ecology and Evolution
Graduate Program Newsletter
Previous newsletters may be found at:
E&E Academic Excellence Fund Awards
The E&E Graduate Program made seven awards in response
to proposals submitted by graduate students for the 2006 competition for
research grants. These awards are made possible by generous donations made by
alumni/ae, faculty, and friends to the E&E
Graduate Program. If you would like to make a contribution to help continue
this important program of graduate student support, please contact Peter
C. D’Amore – Feeding behavior and functional dentition of the Komodo
monitor, Varanus komodoensis.
$1000. (Advisors – Kathy Scott, George McGhee).
Shannon Galbraith-Kent – Effects of differing
invasive and native plant community assemblages on leaf litter decomposition
and nitrogen loss. $1000. (Advisor – Steven Handel).
Molina – Phylogeny of Leea
(Leeaceae/Vitaceae) based on a chloroplast marker and the secondary structure
of the nuclear internal transcribed spacer. $1000 (Advisor – Lena
E. Kimball – Nekton utilization of intertidal salt marsh creeks: diel and tidal assemblage variation. $938 (Advisor – Ken
Wayne Rossiter – Effects of parasitism on Spartina grazing snails. $700. (Advisor – Mike Sukhdeo).
Kristen Ross – Leaf litter and arbuscular
mycorrhizal effects on Microstigium vimineum survival. $610. (Advisor – Joan
James MacDonald – Links between mangrove fish and
prop-root epibiont communities: relationship to anthropogenic
disturbance. $900. (Advisor – Judy Weis)
We received 17 proposals. These were ranked by the E&E
Executive Committee, and the seven proposals with the highest ranks were
selected for funding.
Ben Baiser, a Julie
Lockwood Ph.D. student, presented a poster titled 'The Effect
of Water Level on the Nesting Success of the Federally Endangered Cape Sable
Seaside Sparrow (Ammodramus maritimus
mirabilis) at the American Museum
of Natural History symposium for Conserving Birds in Human Dominated
a Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Jason Grabosky’s Urban Forestry lab, has given two presentations this
Frank gave a presentation on demographic shifts
and strategic planning at The American Forest Foundation’s Project Learning
Tree Conference on May 11th.
The purpose of the session was to provide context for the Foundation’s
five year strategic planning initiative.
also been invited by the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance to participate in
a panel discussion concerning the “Value of Green Space” in the New
York Harbor area.
The conference which takes place on May 23 focuses on issues with providing
“Green Infrastructure in the metropolitan area”.
On May 1, Rebecca Jordan gave an invited talk
entitled, "Citizen science versus technical
support in the control of weedy invasive plants." for administrators of
the USDA Cooperative State Reseacrh, Education and
Extension Service National Research Initiative program. Additionally,
Rebecca participated in a grant review panel for a USDA CSREES NRI competitive
grant program from May 1-3.
Moskowitz spoke on the Butterflies of New Jersey at the
East Brunswick Public Library and at the Washington Township Public
Library. He was also a panelist and presenter on the Emerging
Environmental Trends and Issues Conference at the Institute for Continuing
Legal Education in New Brunswick
in April. David will also be speaking to the Florham Park Senior Citizens Group
on Butterflies and Gardening in late May.
Emilie Stander, a Ph.D. candidate in Joan
Ehrenfeld’s lab, will
be presenting at the Joint Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Baltimore,
MD on Tuesday, May 23rd in a session called
"A Unique Urban Biogeochemistry?"
Her talk is titled "The Effect of Urbanization on the Nitrate
Removal Capacity of Wetlands."
The 2nd edition of Urban and
Community Forestry in the Northeast, Ed.; John E. Kuser. Springer. May 2006
is now available. Dr. Kuser is a
Cassey, P., T.M. Blackburn, J.L. Lockwood, D.F. Sax. The
shape of biotic homogenization: a stochastic model for integrating species
richness extinction and invasion. Oikos. (in
and Lena Struwe
submitted the first-ever revision of the plant genus Symbolanthus from the Central
Ecuador, and Peru)
to the journal Systematics and
Biodiversity. The treatment includes 14 species, six of which are new to
science and two new subspecies. The paper also includes conservation
assessments according to the The International Union
for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) criteria: six
species and one subspecies are evaluated as critically endangered. These plants
are among the most beautiful South American gentians, with up to 6 inches long
pink or yellow trumpet-shaped flowers that are pollinated by moths, bats,
and hummingbirds. You can see pictures of some them at:
Jeanmaire is a Ph.D.
candidate in Lena Struwe’s lab.
Moskowitz and his Ph.D. advisor Michael May report
their latest publication:
Moskowitz, James Adelman,
Jim Cochran, David S. Wilcove and Michael L. May. “Simple rules guide dragonfly migration.” Biology Letters.
It has been receiving worldwide attention... a few websites
of interest are:
article "Mayapple: An early harbinger of
spring" by Linda
Rohleder, a Ph.D. student in Joan
Ehrenfeld's lab, was published in the May/June 2006 issue of
the newsletter of the New York/New Jersey Trail Conference.
John Quinlan reports
a publication based on modeling/data analysis work done with Canadian
R.G., C.G. Hannah, P. Berrien, D. Brickman, J.W.
Loder, and J.A.
Quinlan. 2006. Spawning pattern variability and its effect on
retention, larval growth and recruitment in Georges Bank
cod and haddock. Marine Ecology
Progress Series 310:103-212.
Faculty Achievements and Activities:
On April 22-23 at a University Summit sponsored by the Jane Goodall Institute's Section for Environmental Education, Cook
undergrads Angela Gorczyca, Allisyn
Gillet, Erin Murphy, Mary McLaughlin, and Asst.
Professor Rebecca Jordan
presented their environmental education program entitled "A focus on the
places we live." Rebecca Jordan
also sat on a faculty mentors panel to discuss encouraging the balance between
undergraduate education and advocacy. The members of the Rutgers
University group were able to meet
privately with Jane Goodall, the keynote speaker for
Rick Lathrop continues to be busy:
- Rick participated in a
Technical Assistance Visit with the US Forest Service on April 25, 2006 to discuss the
re-establishment of a Research Work Unit at Silas Little Experimental
Forest. This USFS work unit would
be a major boon to Rutgers and the RU Pinelands
He also participated in a book reading of New
Jersey's Environments: Past, Present and Future (RU
Press, a multi-authored volume edited by Neil Maher). The reading was at NJIT, Newark,
NJ on April 26, 2006.
Rick participated in a 2 day workshop (May 15-16, 2006) on Coastal Pattern
Indicators, hosted by the Heinz Center, Washington DC.
Lockwood received a grant from the Critical Ecosystems
Science Initiative, National Park Service for “Recovering small Cape
Sable seaside sparrow subpopulations: the breeding and dispersal
of sparrows in the eastern Everglades”. The grant amount
Struwe and Sasha Eisenman led at tour of the Hutcheson
on May 6 in beautiful spring weather for about 20 people. Among the masses of
invasive European weeds, some native ephemeral spring flowers were hanging on,
such as ramps, mayapple, and trout lilies. Inga Parker, a Ph.D. student advised by Rick
Lathrop, has compiled a species list from the walk.
Ehrenfeld participated in a meeting of the Water Science
and Technology Board of the National Research Council on May 3-4, in
Washington, and in “A Workshop to Develop a Strategy for Advancing Urban
Ecology” in Duluth, Minn.,
on May 18 -20.
Rick Lathrop served on the USFS Forest
Service team reviewing the progress on the Pennsylvania
and Connecticut portions of the
Mid-Atlantic Highlands Study. The
meeting was held at Grey Towers,
on April 27, 2006.
Qualifying and Preliminary
Congratulations to the following students who successfully
completed their qualifying exam and advanced to candidacy in the Ph.D program.
- David LaPuma,
advisor Julie Lockwood, on April 21st.
- Stacey Lettini,
advisor Michael Sukhdeo, on May 3rd.
- Esther Leibovich,
advisor Gary Taghon, on May 8th.
- Yufei Wang,
advisor Ming Xu, on May 9th.
- Aabir Banerji, advisor Peter
Morin, on May 10th
Congratulations also go to three students who successfully
defended their Preliminary Proposal.
- James MacDonald,
advisor Judy Weis, on March 29th.
- Shannon Galbraith-Kent,
advisor Steven Handel, on May 12th.
- Domenic D’Amore, co-advisors Kathy
Scott and George McGhee, on May 16th.
Awards, Achievements, and Activities:
A Michael Sukhdeo Ph.D. student, Tavis Anderson, was awarded the New Jersey
Mosquito Control Association (NJMCA) Educational Scholarship for 2006 of $1000.
The proposal was titled "West Nile virus:
predicting mosquito emergence and disease risk using habitat
Kyle Bennett, a Ph.D.
candidate in Rich Lutz’s lab, was awarded $1,490
from the Board of Directors of the Conchologists of America (COA), for his
proposal titled “Phenotypic
plasticity and multiple cryptic species in discretely different habitats of the
scorched mussel, Brachidontes exustus,
species complex in the Florida Keys”.
Domenic D’Amore, a Ph.D. candidate
co-advised by Kathy Scott and George McGhee, received a grant from The
Explorers Club through a program called The Exploration Fund. The website
states that this fund provides graduate students and young scientists
grants in support of exploration and field research. It is specifically
reserved for those who are just beginning their research careers. Dom is using
his $1,200 to fund travel to the Denver Zoo to study feeding by Komodo dragons.
At the end of June, 2006, Ph.D. candidate Teresa Johnson and her advisor Bonnie McCay are going to Galway,
Ireland, to participate
in a workshop of the International Commission for Exploration of the Seas
(ICES) on Fisheries Management Strategies. They are both co-authoring
papers with European colleagues based on their National Science Foundation
project, “Experience-Based Knowledge in a Science Policy Context.”
Santiago Bass, a Ph.D. candidate in Judy Weis’ lab, was
one of three graduate students chosen to represent Rutgers
University at the Northeast
Alliance Science Days at Penn State
University May 1-2. Celine presented
a poster entitled "Effects of heavy gill parasite burdens on Fundulus heteroclitus
anatomy and physiology."
The Northeast Alliance is “an
NSF-funded consortium of 10 research-intensive institutions in the Northeast
United States dedicated to increasing minority participation in
research and university teaching careers.” All travel expenses were covered by
Jonathon Schramm, a
Ph.D. candidate in the Joan Ehrenfeld lab,
received a graduate student research award from the New England Botanical Club
for this summer, in the amount of $925. The title of the research is "A multiscale analysis of contemporary and historical
facilitators of the invasion of an exotic grass into hardwood forests of New
Jersey." Jonathon will be using the funds
primarily for travel expenses between field sites.
The spring semester is always
busy for the Ecology and Evolution Graduate Student Association and this one was
no exception. In addition to the weekly Friday seminar series in which graduate
students present their own research to the group, they organized the following events:
5K Run for the
- On Saturday, April 22nd,
the graduate students held a fundraising event called "The Run for
the Woods." This is an annual
5K run at the Helyar Woods and Rutgers
Gardens to benefit the Woods
and the Ecology & Evolution Graduate Student Association. Despite a rainy, cold morning, there was
a good turnout of runners and the event was a success.
Ag Field Day:
- On Saturday, April 29th,
the EcoGSA held a fundraising event at the annual Ag Field Day. This year the students sold empanadas
and organic french
fries as well as Ecology & Evolution T-shirts (designed by Domenic
D'Amore) and canvas bags. Amazing
weather helped to make the event a great success! They worked very hard but had a lot of
fun too, all to benefit the Ecology & Evolution Graduate Student
Association. T-Shirts and canvas bags are still available for sale.
Contact Stacey Lettini at hicks@
- On Wednesday, May 3rd, the
E&E graduate students, in conjunction with the Environmental Science
graduate students, hosted the Third Annual Eminent Ecologist Lecture. This
year’s invited speaker was Dr. Peter Vitousek, an ecosystem ecologist from
Stanford University. Dr. Vitousek gave a seminar titled,
"Human-Environment Interactions in the Hawaiian Islands."
The Alampi Room at the Institute
for Marine and Coastal Sciences was filled beyond capacity for this event,
with faculty and students attending from a diversity of disciplines.
Dr. Vitousek also met with the graduate students
informally at a luncheon earlier in the day and with various lab groups and
individuals before his seminar. A well-attended open house that evening
afforded the students another chance with talk him in an informal setting.
We owe a special thank you to IMCS for the use their
John Dighton, successfully defended his
Ph.D. dissertation on April 21st. His dissertation was titled “Low
Intensity Prescribed Fire and the Fate of Fire Mobilized Nutrients.” Congratulations Dennis!
Somes, advisor Julie Lockwood,
successfully completed his Master’s on March 31st.
Marielle Anzelone, (M.S. 2000, Jean
Marie Hartman), had a big event recently, promoting the sale
of native plants at NYC Greenmarkets. For more information go to this website and click on Gotham
Gardeners: Go Native. http://www.nyas.org/snc/update.asp .
On another front, Marielle is expecting her first
baby and will be out on maternity leave for the summer. She says “not very good
timing for a botanist.”
David Bart, ( Ph.D.
2003, Jean Marie Hartman),
is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Soil Science,
University of Wisconsin-Madison.
reports the following publications:
- Bart, D., D. Burdick, R. Chambers, and J.
Hartman. 2006. Human facilitation of Phragmites australis
invasions in tidal marshes: a review and synthesis. Wetlands
Ecology and Management 14: 53-65.
- Bart, D. 200x. Integrating local knowledge into experimental
studies to understand the causes of environmental change. Frontiers
in Ecology and the Environment (In Press).
- Bart, D. 200x. Looking
for cause with all the small changes: using event ecology to find human
causes of biological invasions. Against
the Tides: The Vayda Tradition in Human Ecology and Ecological
Anthropology. B. McCay, B. Walters, C. West, and S.
Leeds (eds.) Boston: Lexington
Press. Chapter 7 (in Press).
Jeremy Fox (Ph.D.
2000, Peter Morin) reports from Calgary
Fox, J. W., and D. S. Srivastava. Predicting
local-regional richness relationships using island biogeography models. Oikos
Chris Martine (M.S.
2001, John Kuser), currently at the University
of Connecticut, successfully
defended his doctoral dissertation titled "Two in the Bush: On the
evolution, distribution and natural history of dioecyin
The second chapter will appear in the next issue of Systematic Botany. Chris has also just accepted a tenure-track
faculty position in plant
biology at SUNY Plattsburgh that will begin in August '06. Rachel, Isabel (4) and Jackson (18 mos.) are
all excited about moving to the shores of Lake Champlain.