Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources


Ecology and Evolution Graduate Program Newsletter


July 2006


Previous newsletters may be found at:





Joan and David Ehrenfeld were guests of the Ford Foundation and the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment in India in June. While there, they both presented talks:

  • Joan gave a talk entitled “Exotic invasions in deciduous forests: a case study of impacts and restoration” at the Center for Ecological Sciences, Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, India.  
  • David delivered the third annual Khoshoo Memorial Lecture at the India International Centre in New Delhi on June 14th.  The lecture was supported in part by the Ford Foundation.
  • David lectured on “Energy and Conservation” to the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, in Bangalore, India on June 19th.


Emilie Stander, a Ph.D. candidate in Joan Ehrenfeld’s lab, gave a presentation at the Society of Wetlands Scientists Annual Meeting held in Cairns, Australia, from July 10-14.  Her talk was titled, "Do urban wetlands leak nitrogen?  The effects of urbanization on nitrate removal capacity of wetlands."



David Ehrenfeld.  2006.  Transgenics and vertebrate cloning as tools for species conservation.”

Conservation Biology 20(3): 723-732.


Meffe, Gary K., David Ehrenfeld, and Reed F. Noss.  2006. “Conservation biology at twenty.”

Conservation Biology 20(3): 595-596. 


Long, Z. T., C. F. Steiner,* J. A. Krumins, and P. J. Morin.  2006.  Species richness and allometric scaling jointly determine biomass in model aquatic food webs.  Journal of Animal Ecology 75: 1014-1023.

*Zac Long is a former Ph.D. student and Chris Steiner is a former post-doc in the Morin lab.


Lathrop, R.G., M. Cole, N. Senyk and B. Butman. 2006. Seafloor habitat mapping of the New York Bight incorporating sidescan sonar data.  Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 68:221-230.


Lathrop, R.G., D. Tulloch, C. Hatfield. 2006. Consequences of Land Use Change in the New York-New Jersey  Highlands, USA: Landscape Indicators of Forest and Watershed Integrity. Landscape and Urban Planning (Online First).


Lathrop, R.G., P. Montesano, and S. Haag. 2006. A multi-scale segmentation approach to mapping seagrass habitats using airborne digital camera imagery.  Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing 72(6):665-675.


Patricia Ramey, a Ph.D candidate in the labs of Fred and Judy Grassle. reports the following publication:

Leander and Ramey 2006. Cellular Identity of a Novel Small Subunit rDNA Sequence Clade of Apicomplexans: Description of the Marine Parasite Rhytidocystis polygordiae n. sp. (Host: Polygordius sp., Polychaeta). Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology, 53 (4): 225-313;jsessionid=c87zt0frgxi6xe_heX


In a few weeks, the new gentian species and genus Yanomamua araca will be described by Jason Grant, Paul Maas, and Lena Struwe in the July issue of Harvard Papers in Botany. This strange plant with violin-shaped leaves is only found on the mountain Serra Araca in northern Brazil, not far from the tabletop mountains of Venezuela, and represents another example of endemic, rare gentian species found by this research group. The genus is named after the Yanomami indian tribe, who inhabit this region and southern Venezuela.


     Faculty Achievements and Activities:

Two interviews with David Ehrenfeld were broadcast on Earthwatch Radio (UW Sea Grant Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison).  The broadcasts are syndicated to more than 130 stations worldwide. 


Rick Lathrop participated in the Pinelands Preservation Alliance Pinelands Summer Institute for Teachers on July 11, 2006.  Rick's subject was "Life on the Edge: Pinelands to Bay Transitions". After a morning on Barnegat Bay on Ocean's County's pontoon boat exploring salt marsh islands and seagrass beds, Rick led the group on walk around Cattus Island to investigate the transition from Pine Barrens forest through salt marshes to the bay's edge.


As a guest of the Sea Partnership Program of Hasanuddin University, Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia, Judy Weis spent two weeks in May running a Workshop on Marine Heavy Metal Pollution. Judy’s hosts had arranged for a series of talks to be given at various venues at the University and at the local environmental impact management agency (BAPEDALDA). She gave seven different talks. They also took field trips to three local sites to collect samples. There were about twenty people who attended all sessions, and were the participants of the “workshop,” and numerous others came to selected talks. The workshop participants were mostly junior faculty and graduate students of the School of Marine Science and Fisheries of Hasanuddin University, in addition there were faculty from the Biology Department, the School of Agriculture and Forestry, the Biotechnology Division, and the Center for Coral Reef Research. There was also a faculty member from another university in Makassar, and a faculty member from a university in Kendari (in Southeast Sulawesi).  All participants received signed certificates – Judy had to sign 150 of them.


Student Awards, Achievements, and Activities:

HMF Summer Research Grants:

  • Kenneth Elgersma received support for his proposal the “Novel Weapons Hypothesis of Biological Invasions and Plant-Microbe Feedback.”  Garlic mustard, an invasive species, has been shown to suppress the arbuscular mycorrhizae that are beneficial to the growth of native tree seedlings, thereby suppressing native tree growth.  The purpose of Kenneth’s research is to determine if this effect confers an advantage to non-native tree seedlings, or if it suppresses the growth of non-natives and natives alike.  In addition, in order to determine if co-occurring natives have adapted to deal with garlic mustard’s negative effects, he will be studying garlic mustard’s effect on native and non-native trees in garlic mustard’s native range, in collaboration with Dr. Torsten Vor at the Institute of Silviculture, University of Göttingen, Germany.
  • William Landesman, received support for his project titled: “Response of soil microbes to wet-dry cycles in dry and moist soils.” Global climate change could lead to an increase in the frequency of drought conditions followed by heavy rainfall events.  These dry-wet cycles can stress microbial communities and lead to changes in nitrogen cycling, carbon storage and other important processes.  The purpose of the project is to understand how soil microbes respond to these wet-dry cycles.  It is possible that in soils that dry rapidly (such as Pinelands soil) microbes might be adapted to frequent wet-dry cycles.  Soils in Hutcheson Memorial Forest do not dry as rapidly and therefore wet-dry events might stress the microbial communities there.
  • David LaPuma received support for “Where the Birds Are: Avian diversity and distribution across successional communities at the Hutcheson Memorial Forest.”

The proposed research will census the migratory and breeding bird assemblages across successional vegetation communities including actively cultivated land, old fields, conifer forest, and the old growth stand of woods at the Hutcheson Memorial Forest. Results will then be used with a historic database to detect changes in avian assemblages over the past fifty years.

  • Inga Parker LaPuma received support  for her proposal titled “Structure and diversity of landcover in Hutcheson Memorial Forest for comparison with avian breeding and diversity.” This proposal is concerned with characterizing the flora of all landcover types at found at HMF and ascertaining habitat variability within landcover types using the Forest Inventory Analysis protocol.  Along with providing a significant contribution to data on structure and composition of trees, shrubs and herbaceous layers for the entire property, this survey will also provide a characterization that can be utilized in concert with migratory and breeding bird surveys. 
  • Maria Stanko received also received support for her proposed study.


Students who receive summer research support from HMF must help with the annual Buell-Small Succession study. This long-term old-field sampling has been conducted every summer since in 1958. For more information on this study visit the website:


Domenic D’Amore, a Ph.D. candidate co-advised by George McGhee and Kathy Scott, received a $1,000 award from the Delaware Valley Paleontological Society-Paul Bond Scholarship Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation for his research on feeding in Komodo lizards.


Jeremy Feinberg’s research has been receiving quite a bit of press lately. Jeremy is a Ph.D. student in Joanna Burger’s lab.

This is a small article that appeared in Newsday in June:,0,1713316.story


Patricia Ramey, a Ph.D. candidate in the labs of Fred and Judy Grassle,  attended a workshop June 15 2006 at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)  for the purpose of planning proposals for Ocean Exploration (NOAA/OE) of the Hudson Canyon region.


Celine Santiago Bass, a Ph.D. candidate in the Judy Weis lab, participated as an invited panelist at the Research in Science & Engineering (RISE) at Rutgers/UMDNJ seminar on "Graduate School: An Inside Look" where she spoke to visiting undergraduates about life as a graduate student.


Celine Santiago Bass is also an invited participant in the  Faculty Horizons Workshop at University of Maryland Baltimore County (July 13-15).  The  workshop is an NSF grant funded workshop to help endow individuals (particularly women) with the skills to secure tenure-track faculty positions entering science, technology, engineering & math (STEM) fields.  Celine will be one of a select group of approximately 75 participants.


Emily Stander, a Ph.D. candidate in Joan Ehrenfeld’s lab, has been selected to receive an Outstanding Student Paper Award for her presentation at the 2006 Joint Assembly of the Biogeosciences Section of the American Geophysical Union. Her presentation titled “The effects of urbanization on nitrate removal capacity of urban wetlands” was recognized as among the best of a strong group of student presenters.


Tom Virzi, a Ph.D. candidate in Julie Lockwood’s lab, has been busy banding Osprey chicks at Island Beach State Park the past two weeks.  He has banded about 40 chicks and has been doing demonstrations for student groups at the Sedge Island Natural Resource Education Center.


Qualifying Exams:

Congratulations to Tavis Anderson, advisor Michael Sukhdeo, on the successful completion of his qualifying exam and his advancement to candidacy in the Ph.D program.



Mary Cadenasso, Ph.D. 1998, advisor Steward T.A. Pickett, has accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Urban Ecology in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of California, Davis.

Mary has spent the last two years at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies as lecturer and research scientist.  While there she developed two graduate courses one in urban ecosystems, and another in ecology and urban morphogenesis.

Mary writes that her research focus is still on landscape heterogeneity and ecosystem function. She is still working in Kruger National Park, South Africa looking at how the structure of riparian woodlands influences the flow of nutrients transported by animals from the upland savanna into the river systems.  In Baltimore, Maryland her focus is on developing a new land cover classification to describe and quantify the structure of an urban landscape as a first step in linking it to ecosystem functions such as biodiversity, carbon sequestration, nutrient and pollutant storage and export.  This classification integrates built and non-built components of the landscape.  Mary has also been collaborating with urban designers at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University providing ecological concepts and theory to the graduate students in the urban design studios each fall. This collaboration has expanded to include integrating urban design understanding and models with ecological understanding and models.