Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources


Ecology and Evolution Graduate Program Newsletter


October 2008



Previous newsletters may be found at:


The format of this newsletter has changed. We will now be listing the home department of graduate program faculty who are not members of DEENR to alleviate any confusion. The home department will be listed in parenthesis following the faculty member’s name.



Tavis Anderson, a Ph.D. candidate in Michael Sukhdeo’s lab, presented “Core-periphery structure in food webs drives parasite community assembly in naïve fish hosts” at the 83rd meeting of The American Society of Parasitologists in Arlington, Texas. The presentation was coauthored with Michael Sukhdeo. Tavis received a Marc Dresden Travel Award of $200.00 to attend the meeting.


Joan Bennett (Department of Plant Biology and Pathology) gave lectures on "Fungi and New Developments in Fungal Genomics" at: 1) the Institute for Microbiology (CAS), 2) Beijing University of Agriculture, 3) Northwestern Agricultural and 4) Forestry University and Yunnan University between Oct 8th  and the 22nd.


Dom D’Amore, a Ph.D. candidate co-advised by Kathy Scott and George McGhee, presented his work at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology 68th annual meeting in Cleveland Ohio. His poster was titled "Komodo monitor (Varanus komodoensis) feeding behavior and dental function reflected through tooth marks on bone surfaces, and the application to ziphodont paleobiology."  Dom was awarded the Jackson School of Geosciences Student Member Travel Grant for $300.00.



Joan Ehrenfeld has the following papers in press:

  • Jeffrey S. Dukes, Jennifer Pontius, David A. Orwig, Jeffrey R. Garnas, Vikki L. Rodgers, Nicholas J. Brazee, Barry J. Cooke, Kathleen A. Theoharides, Erik E. Stange, Robin A. Harrington, Joan G. Ehrenfeld, Jessica Gurevitch, Manuel Lerdau, Kristina Stinson, Robert Wick, and Matthew P. Ayres. Responses of insect pests, pathogens and invasive species to climate change in the forests of northeastern North America: What can we predict? In Canadian Journal of Forest Research
  • Gerald Kauffman, Andrew Belden, Andrew Homsey, Jonathan Farrell, Sabrina Stanwood, David DeWalle, Joan Ehrenfeld, Mary Jane Porter, Robert Tudor, and Jessica Rittler Sanchez. Water quality trends in the Delaware River Basin from 1970 to 2005. In Journal of the American Water Resources Association
  • Emilie Stander and Joan G. Ehrenfeld.  Rapid assessment of urban wetlands: functional assessment model development and evaluation. In Wetlands.
  • Emilie Stander and Joan G. Ehrenfeld. Rapid assessment of urban wetlands: do hydrogeomorphic classification and reference criteria work? In  Environmental Management.
  • Junu Shresta, J. R. Rich, Joan G. Ehrenfeld and Peter R. Jaffe. Oxidation of Ammonium to Nitrite under Iron Reducing Conditions in Wetland Soils; Laboratory, Field Demonstrations and Push Pull Rate Determination. In  Soil Science.
  • Joan G. Ehrenfeld. Extensive Defoliation of Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii DC.) in New Jersey by a Native Moth, Coryphista meadii. In Natural Areas Journal.


Nina Fefferman reports the following invited talks:

  • Fefferman, N.H. 2008. Possible Selective Mechanisms for the Evolution of Disease-defensive Social Organizations. Ecology and Evolution Seminar, Boston Univ.
  • Fefferman, N.H. 2008. Behavioral Epidemiology in Virtual Worlds: Exploiting the virtual experience. Advanced Technology Applications for Combat Casualty Care 08; Telemedicine and Advanced Technologies Research Center Medical Simulation & Training Technology
  • Fefferman, N.H. 2008. Recent Advances in the What, How and When of Network Models in Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics 2008
  • Fefferman, N.H. 2008. World of Warcraft Corrupted Blood Disease: Epidemiological Observations and Findings. Games for Health
  • Fefferman, N.H. 2008. Computational Ecology: The Evolution of Sociality. Frontiers in Applied and Computational Mathematics, New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Fefferman, N.H. 2008. Self-organizing social behavior and disease-defensive organizational strategies in social species. Complexity 2008, Univ. Illinois Urbana


And the following presentations of her work:

  • Lofgren, E. Epidemic models in online computer games: Applications and lessons learned. American Public Health Association. 2008.  (Presented by her student).
  • Fefferman, N.H. and A.D. Jaggard. 2008. An Interdisciplinary Framework for Defining and Distinguishing Security Desiderata for Personally Sensitive Information. DIMACS/DyDAn Workshop on Internet Privacy: Facilitating Seamless Data Movement with Appropriate Controls


Jason Grabosky gave two presentations this month:

·        NJ Shade Tree Federation Meeting, October 24th Cherry Hill, NJ:  "How to kill your client's tree and not even know it"

·        The Landscape Below Ground III:  A series of international conferences on tree root development in urban soils.  Morton Arboretum October 7, 2008;  "Efforts in Model Development for Root Growth Load Interception by Pavement-Wearing Surfaces" 


Denise Hewitt, a Ph.D. student working with Cesar Rodriguez-Saona, presented a poster titled "Effect of Prescribed Fire on Native Bee Populations in the New Jersey Pine Barrens and Neighboring Cranberries" at a regional Pollinator Conference held Oct 3rd and 4th in Amherst, MA. The conference was sponsored by the Millers River Environmental Center.


Rebecca Jordan gave or coauthored the following presentations:

  • "A characterization of ecology and ecosystem understanding: a call for targeted instruction," at the North American Association of Environmental Educators Annual Research Symposium.  Wichita, KS, October 15, 2008. This presentation was coauthored by Steven Gray, a Ph.D. candidate in Rebecca’s lab.
  • Cindy Hmelo-Silver, Rebecca Jordan, Steven Gray, and Marylee Demeter presented an invited lecture entitled "Thinking below the surface: using aquaria to teach about systems." Hosted by NJ Biology Teacher's Association at the New Jersey Science Teacher's Convention.  Somerset, NJ, October 15, 2008.  
  • "Promoting ecological understanding in different audiences," at the Cary Institute.  Millbrook, NY, October 30, 2008. 


Rick Lathrop presented two invited talks:

  • "Land Use Change in the Barnegat Bay Watershed" as part of a scientific panel at the Barnegat Bay National Estuary Program's 2008 State-of-the-bay Conference held at Georgian Court University, Lakewood, NJ Oct 16, 2008.
  • "Coastal Application of LiDAR" at the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Urban and Regional Information System (MAC URISA) Fall Meeting/LiDAR Symposium held at the Rutgers EcoComplex Center, Bordentown, NJ Oct 21, 2008.


Julie Lockwood gave an invited seminar in the Columbia University Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology Seminar Series in New York. The seminar was titled “Propagule madness: definitions and null hypotheses in invasion ecology.”


Kirsten Schwarz, a Ph.D. candidate in Steward Pickett’s lab, attended the 2008 Baltimore Ecosystem Study annual meeting in Baltimore, October 14-16.  Kirsten presented one talk and co-authored two other presentations: 

  • Zhou, W., K. Schwarz, and M.L. Cadenasso.  2008.  Agreement Assessment of Visual Interpretation and Digital Classification for Mapping Urban Landscape Heterogeneity. BES Annual Meeting.  October 15-16.  Baltimore, MD.
  • Yesilonis, I., R. V. Pouyat, K. Schwarz, and K. Szlavecz.  2008.  Fate and transport of soil metals at different spatial scales: a synthesis of prior research.  BES Annual Meeting.  October 15-16.  Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Schwarz, K., S.T.A. Pickett, M.L. Cadenasso, K. Weathers, R.V. Pouyat, and I.D. Yesilonis.  2008.  Lead in urban residential soils: first steps toward a predictive model.  BES Annual Meeting.  October 15-16.  Baltimore, Maryland.


Andrew “Pete” Vayda, (professor emeritus in Department of Human Ecology), sent in the following information:

  • Presented a seminar on “Causal Explanation as a Research Goal” at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Oct. 13, 2008. 
  • Was one of four invited speakers and participants in a workshop entitled "Contingency and Complexity:  Explanation in Human-Environment Research" at the University of Arizona, Oct. 23-24, 2008. 

Brad Walters, Ph.D. 2000, advisor Pete Vayda, was another of the invited speakers and participants.



An article by Aabir Banerji and Peter Morin, titled "Phenotypic Plasticity, Intraguild Predation, and Anti-Cannibal Defenses in an Enigmatic Polymorphic Ciliate," is in press in Functional Ecology. Aabir is a Ph.D. candidate in Peter Morin’s lab.


Nina Fefferman reports the following two publications:

  • Fefferman. N.H. 2008. .Biological Experimentation in silico. Annales Zoologici Fennici, 45: 367-368.
  • Lofgren, E., M. Senese, J. Rogers and N.H. Fefferman. 2008. Pandemic Preparedness Strategies for School Systems: Is Closure Really the Only Way? Annales Zoologici Fennici, 45: 449-458.


Peter Morin has the following publication:

  • Morin, P. J. 2008. Sex as an antiviral strategy. PNAS 105: 15639-15640.


Lena Struwe reports two non-refereed publications:

  • Dushenkov, V., J. Akimaliev, K. C. Buriev, M. A. Lila, Y. Nuraliev,  G. Pichkhadz, L. Struwe, J. F. White, G. J. Zylstra, & I. Raskin. 2008. The role of the ICBG program in building new pharmaceutical capabilities in Central Asia. Proceedings of the 1st Congress of Phytotherapists of Tajikistan. Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
  • Novy, A., J. M. Hartman, L. Struwe, P. Smouse, J. Honig, C. Miller, & S. Bonos. 2008. Patterns of genetic variation of Spartina alterniflora in marshes of the New York metropolitan area and significance for marsh restoration. Report to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


Judy Weis, (Department of Biology, Newark) reports the following publication:

  • Learning in an invasive and a native predatory crab. Ross J. Roudez, Terry Glover, and Judith S. Weis Biol. Invasions 10: 1191-1196. Ross Roudez was an undergraduate honors student.


Rachael Winfree (Department of Entomology) has the following publication:

  • Winfree, R. Pollinator-dependent crops: an increasingly risky business.

2008. Current Biology R968-R969

And the following popular media articles about her work:

  • The Scientist, “A bee’s life,” October 2008
  • American Bee Journal, “Ecologists assess the impact of people on pollinators,” September 2008


     Faculty Achievements and Activities:

Joan Bennett (Department of Plant Biology and Pathology) has been made an honorary professor at the Institute for Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. 


Joan Ehrenfeld attended a meeting of the Water Science and Technology Board of the National Research Council, Oct 6-7, 2008.


Nina Fefferman was the organizer of a Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) mini-symposium on Network Models of Infectious Disease.


Nina Fefferman also edited a special issue of the journal Annales Zoologici Fennici.


Rick Lathrop has been elected to serve as President of the Board of Trustees of the American Littoral Society, a coastal conservation and education organization.


The School of Environmental and Biological Sciences website is currently highlighting Rick Lathrop’s  spring 2008 Advanced Geomatics class work on the RU Eco Preserve.

  • Spotlight on Mapping Our Natural Resources The Advanced Environmental Geomatics Class Studies the Rutgers Ecological Preserve on Livingston Campus


Jim Quinn, Professor emeritus, participated in the Eastern Native Grasses Symposium in Columbia, SC (Oct. 7-10).


Jim Quinn, Professor emeritus, was recently elected, unanimously, to the category of Life Member by the Council of the Torrey Botanical Society "because of your long and dedicated service to the Society."  


Lena Struwe led a workshop at the Hutcheson Memorial Forest on Sept 28 called 'Flattened flora: How to press plants without crushing them".  Four participants of the nine that had enrolled showed up despite the stormy and rainy weather. 

Lena Struwe gave a workshop on Good Botanical Practices in “An International Training Program on Botanicals, Nutraceuticals and Medicinal and Aromatic Plants”, New Use Agriculture & Natural Plant Products Program, Rutgers University, Aug 11-15, 2008.



Nina Fefferman received an internal grant from Rutgers Climate and Environmental Change Initiative (CECI) to fund a Workshop On The Use Of Mathematical Models In Mosquito Population Control jointly with the Center for Vector Biology.


Advisory Boards:

The Hutcheson Memorial Forest Advisory Board Committee has been formed:

Troy Ettel, NJ Audubon

Frank Gallagher, State of NJ Parks Dept. Liberty State Park

Gene Huntington, Duke Farms

Scott Meiners, Eastern Illinois University

Jim Quinn, Professor emeritus

Joe Smith, Nature Conservancy New Jersey


Student Awards, Achievements, and Activities:

Aresty Undergraduate Research Grants:

  • Laura Chen received a $750.00 Aresty scholarship to work with Peter Morin on predator-prey population dynamics in continuous culture (chemostat) systems.
  • Ramya Raviram has received a $1000 Aresty scholarship to work with dawn redwood (Metasequoia) population genetics together with Lena Struwe, Stacy Bonos, and  Jason Grabosky. Plant Biology graduate students Sasha Eisenman and Ari Novy are also involved in this work, which evaluated the genetic diversity of the seed collections made by John Kuser.
  • Berta Yurkovsky received an Aresty Research Award to study disruptive endocrine effects of a common agrochemical in developing frogs.  Specifically, Berta will be working with Dr. Marisol Gutierrez in Henry John-Alder’s laboratory to optimize the extraction of stress hormones following chronic exposure to atrazine in tadpoles.


Eminent Ecologist Lecture:

  • On Thursday October 23rd, the E&E graduate students, in conjunction the Rutgers Graduate Student Association, hosted the Sixth Annual Eminent Ecologist Lecture. This year’s invited speaker was Dr. Robert Paine. Professor Emeritus from the University of Washington, Seattle. Dr. Paine is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the recipient of Ecological Society of America’s MacArthur and Eminent Ecologist Awards. Dr. Paine’s seminar was titled, "Experimental explorations of the relationships between competitive monodominance, trophic cascades and alternative states". He also met with the graduate students and faculty at a well-attended open house that evening at the home of Peter & Marsha Morin.


Tavis Anderson, a Ph.D. candidate in Michael Sukhdeo’s lab, received partial scholarship from the New England Complex Systems Institute to attend course on "Complex Physical, Biological and Social Systems."


Greg Dahle, a Ph.D. candidate in Jason Grabosky’s lab, received first prize in the Graduate Student Oral Competition during the 84th Annual International Conference held by the International Society of Arboriculture on July 30th. The title of Greg’s presentation was “Relationship of vessel to fiber ratio and the trade-off between hydraulics and mechanics in Norway maple (Acer platanoides).”

Kirsten Schwarz, a Ph.D. candidate in Steward Pickett’s lab, attended the 2nd US-France Urban Ecology Workshop in Baltimore, October 16-18.


Alicia Shenko, a Ph.D. candidate advised by Ravit Golan Duncan and Rebecca Jordan, has accepted a position at "Penn State - Abington College" as a part-time lecturer for Bio 220W: Biology of Communities & Populations.


Alicia Shenko was also selected to receive a scholarship from the Wildlife Habitat Council for participation at their annual symposium being held in Baltimore. The corporate members of the council “sponsored 8 students from environmental and science related disciplines, to showcase their studies, and introduce themselves to the national environmental platform. Over 400 government, corporate, and conservation leaders will attend. Ground-breaking sessions will give new insights about economic benefits of environmental responsibility, volunteerism, invasive species, educational resources, and much more.”



Congratulations to Monica Palta, advisor Joan Ehrenfeld, on the successful defense of her Preliminary Proposal on Oct. 24th.



Jeremy Fox, Ph.D. 2000, advisor Peter Morin, has the following publication:

  • Fox, Jeremy W., and Vasseur, David A. 2008. Character convergence under competition for nutritionally-essential resources. American Naturalist 172:667-680.


John H. Graham, Ph.D. 1986, advisor Robert Vrijenhoek, Reid Professor of Biology at Berry College, Mount Berry, Georgia, has the following publications and presentations:


  • Graham, J. H., A. J. Krzysik, D. A. Kovacic, J. J. Duda, D. C. Freeman, J. M. Emlen, J. C. Zak, W. R. Long, M.P. Wallace, C. Chamberlin-Graham, J. Nutter, and H. Balbach.  2008.  Ant community composition across a gradient of disturbed military landscapes at Fort Benning, Georgia.  Southeastern Naturalist 7: 429-448. 
  • Graham, J. H., A. J. Krzysik, D. A. Kovacic, J. J. Duda, D. C. Freeman, J. M. Emlen, J. C. Zak, W. R. Long, M.P. Wallace, C. Chamberlin-Graham, J. Nutter, and H. Balbach.  Species richness, equitability, and abundance of ants in disturbed landscapes.  Ecological Indicators (in press).
  • Graham, J.H., J.J. Duda, C. Ostberg, S. Zhang, K.P. Haywood III, and B. Miller. Growth, Morphology, and Developmental Instability of Hybrid Trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss and O. clarki bouvieri. Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Evolution, Minneapolis, MN. 21-25 June 2008 (Oral by Graham).