Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources


Ecology and Evolution Graduate Program Newsletter



MAY 2007


Previous newsletters may be found at:



Congratulations to Dr. Paul Falkowski

on his election to

The National Academy of Sciences!


This is an important recognition for his many contributions to evolutionary biology, ecology, and the study of photosynthesis. Dr. Falkowski is a Board of Governors Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences and in the Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences.


For more information, see the press release at


Lifetime Achievement Celebration

On April 15th DEENR celebrated the Lifetime Achievements of Dr. John Tedrow in his 90th year. Family, friends and colleagues joined in the lunchtime gala. Dr. Tedrow, although retired since 1982, can be found in his office most mornings writing papers, book chapters and working on forensic soil science with local and federal law enforcement authorities.


For an overview of Dr. Tedrow’s many accomplishments and activities please visit:



Zac Freedman, a Ph.D. student in Tamar Barkay’s lab, will be presenting a poster at the American Society for Microbiology conference(May 21-25) in Toronto titled "Is the Mercury(mer) System of Thermus thermophilus HB 27 an Ancestor to the Broadly Distributed mer System Among the Bacteria?" Zac was awarded the Karl C. Ivarson award ($800) through the Dept of Microbiology and Biochemistry to attend the conference.  


 Frank Gallagher, a Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Jason Grabosky’s Urban Forestry lab, gave two presentations this month:

·        On May 9th  he gave a talk entitled Changing Paradigms for Changing Environments in Kansas City at the annual Project Learning Tree’s (PLT) International Conference. PLT is an environmental education program sponsored by the American Forest Foundation. 

·        On May 16th, Frank gave a poster presentation entitled “Soil Metal Concentrations and Vegetative Assemblage Structure in an Urban Brownfield” at the Meadowlands Symposia, sponsored by the Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute.


Jennifer Adams Krumins, a Ph.D. candidate in Peter Morin’s lab, gave a talk at the 11th biennial Soil Ecology Society Meeting in Moab, Utah on May 2, 2007.  Talk titled: “Microbial Community and Soil Nutrient Response to a Gypsy Moth Outbreak in the New Jersey Pinelands” Authors: Jennifer Adams Krumins, Dennis Gray and John Dighton


William Landesman, a Ph.D. candidate in the John Dighton lab, also gave a presentation at the 11th biennial Soil Ecology Society Meeting in Moab, Utah. Bill’s talk was titled: Response of soil microbial communities to manipulations of soil moisture and dry-wet cycles in two New Jersey forests. Co-authors: William Landesman and John Dighton.


Richard Lathrop, Director of CRSSA, visited CEMAGREF Institute in Grenoble France from March 27-31, 2007.  CEMAGREF is the leading government institute in France devoted to agricultural and environmental engineering research. While visiting France, Lathrop presented a seminar on landscape change and bio-regional conservation planning in the Highlands of New York and New Jersey.


Richard Lathrop presented two papers at the US Landscape Ecology Meeting in Tucson Arizona April 10-14, 2007: "Integrating Landscape Change and Ecosystem Modeling of the Wildland/Urban Interface of the New Jersey Pinelands" (co-authors - Zewei Miao, Ming Xu, Inga LaPuma) as part of the NASA-MSU Golley-Odum Symposium on Integrating Remote Sensing of Forest Disturbances with Models at Broad Scales; and, A Landscape Ecological Perspective as the basis for Land Use Planning in the New York-New Jersey Highlands" as part of a special session on Putting theory into Practice: Application of Landscape Ecology Principles into Environmental Decision-Making.


Karen Mabb, a Ph.D. candidate in Julie Lockwood’s lab, attended the Parrots International Symposium 2007 sponsored by Parrots International, UCLA Institute of the Environment, and UCLA Center for Tropical Research on April 28 & 29 at UCLA- University of California, Los Angeles. Karen presented the following two posters:

California: A case study. Mabb, K.T. and K.L. Garrett


David Moskowitz, a Ph.D. student in the Mike May lab, gave the following presentations:


Andrew “Pete” Vayda, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Ecology, gave a presentation  at The Columbia University Earth Institute's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory division of Biology and Paleo Environment (BPE) Spring 2007 Seminar Series. The talk was titled: "Causal Explanation of Indonesian Forest Fires: Concepts, Applications, and Research Priorities," on Friday, May 04, 2007.




Galbraith-Kent, S.L. and S.N. Handel. 2007. Lessons from an urban lakeshore restoration project in New York CityEcological Restoration 25(2): in press


Cassey, P., J.L. Lockwood, T.M. Blackburn, and J.D. Olden.  Spatial scale and evolutionary history determine the degree of taxonomic homogenization across island bird assemblages.  Diversity and Distributions.  (in press).


Lockwood, J.L.  2007 Learning to converse at the big table.  Book review of Key Topics in Conservation Biology.  Ecology 88(3): 804-805.


David Moskowitz, a Ph.D. student in Mike May’s lab, had an article in the NJ\NY Trailwalker May\June 2007: Butterflies Along the Trail   


Skowronski, N. S., Clark, K. L.,  Nelson, R., Hom, J. and Patterson, M. (2007). Remotely sensed measurements of forest structure and fuel loads in the Pinelands of New Jersey. Remote Sensing of Environment, 108, 123-129.


Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis (CRSSA):

CRSSA assists Duke Farms in implementing GIS

Farm property in Hillsborough, New Jersey.  This project is part of a larger effort between Rutgers University School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and Duke Farms in promoting basic and applied research in ecological restoration and management of open space lands.


CRSSA releases report on Impact of Sea Level Rise on NJ coastal habitats

level rise in New Jersey on coastal habitats. We have produced a report, as well as a series of GIS based data bases and maps. We have recommended to the state DEP that they take measures to protect coastal habitats – primarily tidal wetland areas – through the creation of wetland “retreat zones” – areas that would allow the wetlands to “migrate” in response to rising sea level.  The link below will show you the report, as well as several others that Rutgers CRSSA did in partnership with ALS: identifying coastal conservation and restoration opportunities, and mapping the critical horseshoe crabs habitats of Delaware Bay to identify protection and restoration priorities. The NJ

coastal assessment reports and graphics are available at


CRSSA releases Report on New Jersey Land Use Change Update


The preliminary results of this study confirm that development pressure has continued at a remarkably robust rate during the 1995 – 2002 time period with urban development increasing statewide by 105,988 acres.  A corresponding amount of open space was lost consisting of farmland, forest and wetlands. The data also show that some regions of the state increased the rate of development faster than others and that in some areas there has been an especially significant increase in the rate of upland forest conversion. The increase in the rate of forest loss is especially critical due to all the attendant ecosystem services that forests provide such as watershed protection, carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat, and recreation, to name just a few.  For more information go to:


CRSSA to provide the New Jersey Forest Fire Service Digital Mapping Services


     Faculty Achievements and Activities:

Joan Ehrenfeld attended a meeting of the Water Science and Technology Board of the National Research Council in April.


Rebecca Jordan and Steven Gray, a graduate student in her lab, hosted a 3 part in-service teacher professional development workshop supported by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation's Teacher as Scholars program.  Rebecca Jordan, Peter Morin, and Andrew Pleasant were featured speakers.


Richard Lathrop was invited to serve as a member of a 5 person Listening Panel to attend the U.S. Forest Service Forest Stewardship Program's Spatial Analysis National Summit held in Interlocken Colorado April 17-19, 2007.

Terry McGuire received the the 2007 SAS Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Education in the category of Associate Professor.

Judy Weis spent the first week of May in Denver at a meeting of the National Research Council Committee on Advancing Desalination Technologies. Judy was the only ecologist on the committee.


Peter Morin was one of 25 invited participants at a NSF-sponsored workshop titled “Really Big Biogeographically-Based Integrative Historical and Ecological Science”. The workshop was hosted by the University of Nevada - Las Vegas near the Mount Charleston Wilderness Area on 19-20 May 2007. 





Julie Lockwood reports two new grants:



Hutcheson Memorial Forest Fellowships:


Six students were awarded funds from HMF for studies located there.


David A. La Puma, advisor Julie Lockwood - $1500.00. - Where the Birds Are Year II: Continued study of avian diversity and distribution across a successional gradient at the Hutcheson Memorial Forest

Inga P. La Puma, advisor Richard Lathrop - $1000.00. - Continued sampling of varied landcover types to assess the vegetation structure and diversity of Hutcheson Memorial Forest .

Maria Lee Stanko, interim advisor Peter Morin- $1500.00. - Research into mutualistic plant-animal networks. 

Aabir Banerji, advisor Peter Morin- $1500.00. - Pollen-Mediated Predator-Prey Dynamics on Pepper Plants and Their Conspecific Neighbors

Ben Baiser, advisor Julie Lockwood- $1500.00. - In an effort to determine where and what forest interior species are breeding at HMF Ben will use the spot mapping technique to determine the species richness and territories of breeding birds in the old and secondary growth portions of HMF. 

Charles Hofer, advisor Claus Holzapfel- $1500.00. - Trophic Transfer of Heavy Metals at an Abandoned Urban Brownfield Site: The Effects of Heavy Metals on Nest Success of Resident Avifauna


Student Awards, Achievements, and Activities:


Jonathon Schramm, a Ph.D. candidate in the Joan Ehrenfeld lab, was in Santa Barbara, CA the week of May 14th participating in a workshop sponsored by The National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) on "Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Agricultural Landscapes." The workshop was the capstone to a seminar course that students from eight different institutions around North America took part in this semester at Columbia University. The workshop participants were preparing their research from the course for potential publication.


Holly Vuong, a Ph.D. student co-advised by Peter Morin and Richard Ostfeld, was accepted into the DIMACS/AIMS/SACEMA US-Africa Advanced Studies Institute on Mathematical Modeling of Infectious Diseases in Africa. This is a two week workshop for graduate students from the United States and Africa to learn mathematical epidemiology and control of emerging or re-emerging infectious diseases. The workshop will be followed by a three day capstone workshop to allow the students to interact and collaborate with American and African researchers who are already established in the field of mathematical disease modeling. The workshops take place near Cape Town, South Africa from June 11th through June 27, 2007. The acceptance into the program covers flight, and room and board.



Congratulations to Kenneth Elgersma, advisor Joan Ehrenfeld,  on the successful defense of his Preliminary Proposal on April 30, 2007.




James Vasslides, advisor Ken Able, successfully defended his Master’s thesis on May 3, 2007.  Congratulations James!






Myla Aronson (Ph.D. 2007, advisor Steven Handel) has finished her first year teaching at Luther College.  Myla will be teaching at Luther next year also.  She has accepted a post-doc position for this summer through the fall with Sue Galatowitsch at the University of Minnesota.  The  main project will be examining vegetation change of restored prairie wetlands 19 years after restoration.  Myla will also be working this summer with Peter Reich examining invasions at the BioCON project.


As part of the Sundance Channel's new channel "The Green," Dr. Mark Laska, (Ph.D.1996, advisor Peter Morin) founder and president of Great Eastern Ecology, was featured May 1st on a segment on Eco Biz. To see the segment click on this link:  


Celine Santiago Bass (Ph.D. May 2007, advisor Judy Weis) has accepted the position with Mark Laska's company Great Eastern Ecology as their Senior Managing Scientist  in charge of office and field operations throughout the Mid-Atlantic states and New England. Great Eastern Ecology is a multidisciplinary consulting firm that specializes in restoring and enhancing natural habitats in and around cities throughout North America. “Celine will play a key role in managing many of our projects at a time Great Eastern is experiencing rapid growth,” said Mark S. Laska, Ph.D., the firm’s founder and president.


 Celine also reports a publication:



The baby boom here in E&E continues with the arrival of Agatha Helen Dahle.

Greg Dahle and his wife Iwonna welcomed daughter Agatha Helen on April 23rd.  Agatha weighed 7 lbs 9 oz and 19 inches long. Mom and daughter are both doing well.  Greg is a Ph.D candidate in the Jason Grabosky Urban Forestry lab.