Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources


Ecology and Evolution Graduate Program Newsletter



August 2010



Previous newsletters may be found at:


In memoriam:

Bert Murray, Professor emeritus, passed away after a long battle with lung cancer on August 7, 2010. Bert was an integral and valued member of the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources and the Ecology and Evolution Graduate Program. Even in retirement Bert attended program seminars frequently. He will be missed by all who knew him.

Our thoughts and sympathies are with his wife, Patti, at this difficult time. 

A memorial service will be held at a date to be announced later.

Donations in Bert’s memory may be made to the NJ Audubon Cape May Bird Observatory.


Welcome to the fall 2010 incoming graduate students:

The fall 2009 semester brings us twelve new and one transferring graduate student. They come from diverse backgrounds and will be doing their graduate work in many different areas.

  • Kevin Aagaard comes to E&E from SUNY Geneseo where he received a B.A. in biology. Kevin will join either the Lockwood or the Morin lab to work towards his Ph.D.
  • Curtis Burkhalter is joining the Lockwood lab to pursue his Ph.D. Curtis has a B.A. in Biology and MS in Ecology from the University of North Florida.
  • Jamie Caridad will be working towards her M.S. in Ken Able’s lab. Jamie holds a B.S. in Marine Science from Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
  • Colleen Conover is a Rutgers Douglass College undergrad with a B.A. in biology. Colleen will be working towards her Ph.D. with Joanna Burger.
  • Margaret Doyle will join the Rick Lathrop lab group. Margaret has a B.S. in math and German from Notre Dame University and an MS in applied mathematics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Margaret is a Ph.D. student.
  • Natalie Howe has her B.S. from Yale University in molecular biophysics and biochemistry and her MS in environmental studies from the University of Pennsylvania. Natalie will be working with John Dighton towards her Ph.D.
  • Molly MacLeod attended Marlboro College where she received her B.A. in biology and ecology. She is joining the Rae Winfree lab to pursue her Ph.D.
  • Amy Manning, a Rutgers Cook College graduate with a BS in ecology, will be working toward her M.S. with Lena Struwe.


  • Julia Perzley has her B.A. in biology from the University of Pennsylvania. Julia is pursuing her Ph.D. with Claus Holzapfel.
  • Kimberley Thomas is coming to work with Bonnie McCay. Kim has her B.S. in biology from the University of Victoria, B.C. and her M.S. from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in oceanography. Kim is studying towards her Ph.D.
  • Amanda Wenczel, who will be working towards her Ph.D with David Bushek at the Haskins Shellfish Research Lab, has her B.A. in biology from Smith College and her M.S. in Marine Policy from the University of Delaware.
  • Talia Young has her B.A. in biology from Swarthmore College. Talia is pursuing her Ph.D. in the Olaf Jensen lab.  
  • Ashley DeNegre transferred into E&E in the spring 2010 to work with Nina Fefferman towards her Ph.D. Ashley has a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Mary Washington.


The E&E family continues to grow with the arrival of:

·        Violet Jordan-Weis, third granddaughter of Pete and Judy Weis.

·        Alexander Noah Stone Norin born to Carrie Norin and husband Andy on August 4th.  Alexander, who is joining older brother Nathaniel, weighed 7 lbs., 4 oz and was 20 inches long. Everyone is reported to be doing wonderfully.



Ecological Society of America; August 2-6 Pittsburgh PA.

  • Wes Brooks, a Ph.D. candidate in Rebecca Jordan’s lab, presented a talk titled “Testing the biotic resistance hypothesis across spatial scales: Evidence from tropical dry forests.”
  • Curtis Burkhalter, an incoming Ph.D. student in the Julie Lockwood lab, gave a presentation titled “Diversity, similarity and resilience of arthropods in response to the restoration of the former pine plantations”
  • Josh Caplan, a post-doctoral associate in Joan Ehrenfeld lab, gave the following talk  “Morphology, water relations, and the invasive success of Rubus armeniacus in the Pacific Northwest
  • Kenneth Elgersma, a Joan Ehrenfeld October 2010 Ph.D. student, presented  "Plant invasion density has linear and nonlinear impacts on the soil ecosystem"
  • Rebecca Jordan presented a paper titled “Laboratory materials: constraints or affordances?” and chaired a Special Session: Public Participation in Research (e.g., Citizen Science) and Ecological Literacy: Meeting the Challenges in Times of Rapid Climate Change and accompanying workshop: Promoting Ecological Literacy and Climate Literacy: Successful Strategies for Public Participation in Scientific Research. 
  • Julia Perzley, an incoming Ph.D. student working with Claus Holzapfel, gave a poster at titled "Characterization of the ecotone between taiga forest and steppe grassland in northern Mongolia" This was co-authored with Peter Petraitis
  • Maria Stanko, a Ph.D. candidate in the Peter Morin lab, gave a talk titled “Seasonal variation in the role of non-native plants in an old field plant-pollinator interaction network”


  • Tom Virzi, a Post-doctoral Associate in the Julie Lockwood lab, gave a talk titled: Conspecific Attraction and Population Recovery of the Endangered Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow in the Florida Everglades.  Co-authored with  J. L. Lockwood.
  • Ai Wen, a David and Joan Ehrenfeld October 2010 Ph.D. student, presented  Anuran's habitat selection in active and abandoned cranberry farms in the Pine Barrens, New Jersey."
  • Rachael Winfree (Department of Entomology) co-authored a poster with Neal William of UC Davis titled “Landscape change does not drive disassembly of pollinator communities or pollination of spring wildflowers.”


Siobain Duffy gave an invited presentation titled “How do geminiviruses evolve as quickly as RNA viruses?” in the Advances in Plant Virus Evolution Symposium, American Phytopathological Society annual meeting Charlotte, NC August 8, 2010.


Steven Handel gave a presentation in June at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library, Garden and Landscape Studies Center, Washington, D.C., for the Symposium on Designing Wildlife Habitats. The talk was titled “Restoring habitats to degraded urban areas - dreams and nightmares.”


Marci Meixler gave the following presentation:

  • Meixler, M. S. 2010.  Streamside health and vulnerability mapping program and application.  New Jersey Geospatial Forum, Trenton, NJ. 11 June.


Rachael Winfree (Department of Entomology) was an invited speaker in a symposium on "Plant-pollinator interactions in fragmented landscapes"



Josh Caplan, a post-doctoral associate in the Joan Ehrenfeld lab, reports the following publication: 

  • Caplan JS, Yeakley JA (2010) Water relations advantages for invasive Rubus armeniacus over two native ruderal congeners. Plant Ecology 210:169-179


Joan Ehrenfeld and two of her former E&E Ph.D. students have co-authored papers:

  • Cutway, H. B. and J. G. Ehrenfeld. 2010.  The influence of urban land use on seed dispersal and wetland invasibility. Plant Ecology. 210:153-167.
  • Schramm, J. and J. G. Ehrenfeld. 2010. Leaf litter and understory canopy shade limit the establishment, growth and reproduction of Microstegium vimineum. Biological Invasions. Online first DOI 10.1007/s10530-010-9711-1


Heather Bowman-Cutway received her Ph.D. in 2004 and Jonathon Schramm received his Ph.D. in 2008.


Heidi Fuchs (Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences) reports the following feature article:

  • H. L. Fuchs, P. J. S. Franks. 2010. Plankton community properties determined by nutrients and size-selective feeding. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 413:1-15


Rebecca Jordan reports the following co-authored publication. Lead author Peter Groffman is a member of the E&E Graduate Program as well. He is located at the Cary Institute for Ecosystems Studies in Millbrook NY.

  • Groffman, P., C. Duarte, M. Nisbet, C. Stylinski, G. Woodwell, A. Burgin, R. Jordan, G. Coloso, and J. Previtali. Restarting the Conversation:  Challenges at the interface between ecology and society. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 8: 284-291.


Oscar Schofield (Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences) reports the following publication:

  • Kahl, A., Fraser, W., Schofield, O. 2010. Autonomous gliders reveal water column features associated with Adélie penguin foraging. Integrative and Comparative Biology doi: 10.1093/icb/icq098


Kimberly Weersing Thomas, an incoming Ph.D. student working with Bonnie McCay reports the following publication:

  • Weersing, Kimberley, Jacqueline Padilla-Gamiño, Barbara C. Bruno.  2010.  What microbe are you?  The Science Teacher.  77(6):40-44.


Faculty Achievements and Activities:

Joan Ehrenfeld, Ph.D. student Laura Shappell and Rick Ostfeld (Rick is located at  the Cary Institute of Ecosystems Studies) were featured in the August September issue of National Wildlife in the article A Dose of Diversity. See the link below.


Rebecca Jordan recorded a segment for the upcoming Water exhibit at the JV Zimmerli Art Museum


Rick Lathrop was interviewed by Editor-in-chief Joe Francica of 'All Points Blog' @ Directions Magazine about his study on land use and land cover classification of the entire State of New Jersey entitled “Changing Landscapes in the Garden State: Urban Growth and Open Space Loss in NJ 1986 thru 2007." The interview highlights the specifics about the GIS technology and techniques he used and the implications for New Jersey's communities and legislature to act upon his findings for smart growth initiatives within the state.


Terry McGuire (Department of Genetics) reports that his new course Evolutionary Medicine (447:356) was one of three National Model Courses for 2010 for SENCER (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities) an NSF funded national dissemination project.  The selection of this course reflects SENCER’s new direction in providing innovative science teaching in courses for science majors.  

The course can be seen at 

More information on the SENCER models can be found at:




Greg Dahle and Jason Grabosky, Rutgers Urban & Community Forestry Program, were awarded $25,000 by the International Society of Arboriculture to conduct a literature review on tree biomechanics.

Ed Green and Co-PI’s Rick Lathrop and Joan Ehrenfeld received $60,000 from McIntire-Stennis and $100,000 from the USDA Forest Service to map soil carbon in the NJ Coastal Plain using hierarchical Bayesian spatial models. The grant duration is for three years.

Student Awards, Achievements, and Activities:

Emma Green-Beach, a master’s student advised by David Bushek (Haskins Shellfish Research Lab) and her research on the oyster disease Dermo were featured in the August 6th edition of the Martha’s Vineyard Gazette article “Oysters Galore Prompt More Study to Ensure Healthy Ponds.”


Inga La Puma, a Ph.D. candidate in Rick Lathrop’s lab, been selected as the next recipient of the William H. Greenberg Fellowship.



Robert Cox, Ph.D. 200 , advisor Henry John-Alder, reports the following publications:

  • Cox, R.M., and R. Calsbeek. 2010. Cryptic sex-ratio bias provides indirect genetic benefits despite sexual conflict. Science 328: 92-94.
  • Cox, R.M., and R. Calsbeek. 2010. Sex-specific selection and intraspecific variation in sexual size dimorphism. Evolution 64: 798-809.
  • Cox, R.M., and R. Calsbeek. 2010. Severe costs of reproduction persist in Anolis lizards despite the evolution of a single-egg clutch. Evolution 64: 1321-1330.
  • Cox, R.M., E.U. Parker, D.M. Cheney, A.L. Liebl, L.B. Martin, and R. Calsbeek. In press. Experimental evidence for physiological costs underlying the trade-off between reproduction and survival. Functional Ecology doi 10.1111/j.1365-2435.2010.01756.x
  • Cox, R.M. 2010. Body size and sexual dimorphism. Pp. 220-225 in: The Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior. Edited by M. Breed and J. Moore. Academic Press, Oxford.
  • Calsbeek, R., L.A. Bonvini and R.M. Cox. 2010. Geographic variation, frequency-dependent selection, and the maintenance of a female-limited polymorphism. Evolution 64: 116-124.
  • Connallon, T., R.M. Cox and R. Calsbeek. 2010. Fitness consequences of sex-specific selection. Evolution 64: 1671-1682.
  • Gasc, A., M.C. Duryea, R.M. Cox, A. Kern and R. Calsbeek. 2010. Invasive predators deplete genetic diversity of island lizards. PLoS ONE (in press)


Chris Martine (MS 2001, advisor John Kuser) and his award winning research were reported in the Press Republican. E&E  and Natural Resource Management get a mention.


Carl Safina,  (Ph.D. 1987, advisor Joanna Burger) founder of the Blue Ocean Institute, will receive this year's Sylvia Earle Award at the BLUE Ocean Film Festival in Monterey CA.  The press release information about the award reads “Award guidelines specified the nominees should be individuals whose work has made important contributions in one or more of the following categories: ocean science, issue awareness, educational outreach, conservation advocacy, effective policy implementation, public engagement in ocean conservation and sustainability, grass roots action and tangible results in preserving ocean health.


Alison Seigel (Ph.D 2009, advisor Julie Lockwood) has accepted a position as an Associate in Science Instruction at Middlebury College in Vermont to teach Ecology and Evolution Laboratory.  


Brad Walters (Ph.D. 2000, advisor Andrew Vayda), received his promotion on July 1 to Full Professor at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, Canada.