Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources


Ecology and Evolution Graduate Program Newsletter



November - December




Previous newsletters may be found at:






Joan Ehrenfeld gave an invited seminar at Fordham University on “Exotic Plants and the Soil: Pathways of Interaction.”


Rebecca Jordan gave an invited seminar titled “Biodiversity, Cichlid Mate Choices, and People” at the Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Graduate Program Seminar Series, UMASS Amherst.  October 12, 2007. 


Rebecca Jordan gave a paper at the NAAEE (North American Association of Environmental Educators) annual research symposium (November 13-14) in Virginia Beach, VA.  The presentation was titled: "Documenting Learning through a Citizen Science Project..”


Matthew Kimball, a  Ph.D. candidate in Ken Able’s lab, gave a presentation at the Estuarine Research Federation 19th Biennial Conference in Providence, RI, November 4-8, 2007.  The authors and title were:

Kimball ME, Able KW.  “Intertidal creek nekton response to Phragmites removal: Evaluating traditional sampling gears versus underwater video.”


David La Puma, a Julie Lockwood Ph.D. candidate, presented “Come hell or high water: managing the Cape Sable seaside sparrow within the dynamic Everglades ecosystem.” to the Florida Ornithological Society at their annual meeting in Sebring, Florida on October 27, 2007.                                                        


Peter Morin presented an invited seminar in the University of Notre Dame Environmental Research Center (UNDERC) Seminar Series on November 7. The title of Peter's seminar was "Small Worlds: Using Experiments with Microbes to Explore Patterns in Community Ecology".

Joe Paulin, a Ph.D. candidate in David Ehrenfeld’s lab, was invited to give a talk at the Rutgers Fruit & Ornamental Research Extension Center entitled “Evaluating New Jersey’s Supplemental Deer-Fencing Program,” for participants of the NJ Department of Agriculture 2007 Program.

Steven N. Handel was selected to receive the "Members Award," given for the outstanding poster presentation at the annual meeting of the Society for Ecological Restoration of California, in San Diego this October.  The poster was titled "Orange County Great Park: A model for large-scale ecological restoration in an urban setting." 


Jaclyn Taylor, a Master’s student in David Bushek’s lab, gave a talk titled "Nekton utilization of constructed intertidal oyster reefs and aquaculture structures in Delaware Bay, USA at the 2007 Biennial Conference of the Estuarine Research Federation in Providence, RI (November 4-8).


Ming Xu was invited to give a talk titled "Spatially-explicit modeling of ecosystem processes in northwest of China", and chaired a session at the joint China-Swiss Workshop on "Modeling Land Use Change and Ecosystem Functions in the Loess Plateau in Northwest China" (Oct. 22-27, 2007, Qingyang, China).




Patricia Alvarez, a Ph.D. candidate in James White’s lab, reports the following publication:


Frank Gallagher and Jason Grabosky have the following publication:

  • Frank J. Gallagher, Ildiko Pechmann, John D. Bogden, Jason Grabosky and Peddrick Weis, Soil metal concentrations and vegetative assemblage structure in an urban brownfield, Environmental  Pollution. (2007), doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2007.08.011


Steven Gray, Rebecca Jordan and David Howe report two publications:

  • Gray, Steven, Rebecca Jordan, and David Howe: "Atlantic Ocean".  Encyclopedia of Climate Change and Global Warming.
  • Gray, Steven, Rebecca Jordan, and David Howe: "Oceanic Changes".  Encyclopedia of Climate Change and Global Warming.




Brad Hillman and his lab report the following publications:

  • Crouch JA, Glasheen BM, Giunta MA, Clarke BB, Hillman BI. (2007). The evolution of transposon repeat-induced point mutation in the genome of Colletotrichum cereale: Reconciling sex, recombination and homoplasy in an ''asexual" pathogen. Fungal Genet. Biol. in press doi:10.1016/j.fgb.2007.08.004.
  • Deng F, Allen TD, Hillman BI, Nuss DL.  (2007) Comparative analysis of alterations in host phenotype and transcript accumulation following hypovirus and mycoreovirus infections of the chestnut blight fungus Cryphonectria parasitica.  Eukaryot. Cell. 6(8):1286-98.   
  • Liu YC, Dynek JN, Hillman BI, Milgroom MG. (2007)  Diversity of viruses in Cryphonectria parasitica and C. nitschkei in Japan and China, and partial characterization of a new chrysovirus species.  Mycol. Res. 111(4): 433-42     
  • Supyani S, Hillman BI, Suzuki N. (2007) Baculovirus expression of the 11 mycoreovirus-1 genome segments and identification of the guanylyltransferase-encoding segment. J. Gen. Virol. 88(1): 342-50.


     Faculty Achievements and Activities:


Joan Ehrenfeld was invited to serve as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Hydrology.


Steven Handel has been elected an "Honorary Member" of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).  He will receive this award at their annual meeting next fall, in Philadelphia.

The ASLA is the national professional association for landscape architects, with some 18,000 members.  Honorary Membership is awarded to "individuals whose achievements are of national or international significance or influence" to the professional of landscape architecture.  Steven was cited for his work meshing modern ecological restoration science with landscape design.


This year thirteen people were cited for Honorary Membership.  In addition to Steven, the list includes Mayor Michael Bloomberg, William McDonough, and Robert Redford, all whose work has advanced significant landscape improvement or conservation.  Past winners include the Nobel Laureates Wangari Maathai and Albert Gore, Lady Bird Johnson, President Jimmy Carter, Mayor Richard M. Daley, Bruce Babbitt, Laurence Rockefeller, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., William K. Reilly, Peter H. Raven, and William H. Whyte.


Rick Lathrop, Director of the Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis (CRSSA) has reported the following activities:

  • CRSSA released report on Barnegat Bay land use change as part of their ongoing monitoring efforts, the Rutgers University Grant F. Walton Center for Remote Sensing & Spatial Analysis (CRSSA) undertook to map and assess recent land use change in the Barnegat Bay watershed. The updated mapping revealed that urban land use increased from approximately 25% in 1995 to approximately 30% of the watershed in 2006.  Including all altered land uses (i.e., agriculture and barren lands) puts the percentage of altered land in the watershed at over 33% in 2006. The Barnegat Bay estuary system continues to experience a significant conversion of forested and wetland habitats to urban land cover and thereby exacerbating nutrient loading to the estuary. Protected riparian buffer zones adjacent to water bodies and streams, where human development and agriculture is excluded or minimized is advocated as a "best management practice" to reduce the impact of human developed land uses on adjacent aquatic ecosystems and downstream water quality.  Unfortunately, CRSSA's assessment shows that between 1995 and 2006, approximately 1,920 acres of riparian habitat were developed.

To access a copy of the full report go to>http://crssa.rutger  

  • CRSSA completed an inventory of New Jersey's Delaware Bayshore region.  Rutgers' Grant F. Walton Center for Remote Sensing & Spatial Analysis (CRSSA), working in conjunction with the South Jersey Bayshore Coalition (SJBC), has recently completed a natural and cultural resources inventory for New Jersey's Delaware Bayshore region.  CRSSA and the SJBC undertook the geographically-based inventory to identify, characterize and map important natural and cultural resources for the region. The primary objectives of the project were to increase education and awareness of the natural resources within the Bayshore communities and to provide the region with fundamental planning tools and relevant data.  The mapped data are stored in a geographic information system (GIS) and are available for public use and download through the CRSSA web mapping service.   A series of 20 full-color poster-sized maps were designed and are available for public use and display.  For more information and access to the maps go to:>

  • CRSSA hosted the  NJ LiDAR Remote Sensing Workshop. The Rutgers University Center for Remote Sensing & Spatial Analysis (CRSSA) and New Jersey Office of Information Technology (NJOIT) hosted a one day workshop on October 17 at Rutgers University, New Brunswick and at the Jacques Cousteau Education Center in Tuckerton, New Jersey. The objective of the workshop was to introduce public sector personnel to LiDAR remote sensing as an up-and-coming technology and to inform them of the different types of LiDAR data, LiDAR processing software and its practical applications for coastal, floodplain, and urban land use mapping.  Nearly one hundred people participated.  Funding for the free workshop was provided by NASA. For more information on the workshop and to download pdfs of the presentations go to


NJN News interviewed Lena Struwe and Jason Grabosky about their Metasequoia work
for the evening news program of October 27th.


Advisory Panels:


Joan Ehrenfeld attended a meeting in Florida as a member of the Committee on Independent Scientific Review of Everglades Restoration of the National Research Council (Nov 14-16).


Student Awards, Achievements, and Activities:


Patricia Alvarez, a Ph.D. candidate in Jim White’s lab, was a participant in the Third Tropical Ecology, Assessment, and Monitoring (TEAM) Network Science Meeting at Panama City, Panama, November 4-7, 2007.


The Tropical Ecology, Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) network, led by Conservation International, with long-term funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, develops a global network of sites and scientists to monitor quantitative trends in biodiversity using standardized methods, to make this data publicly available, and to forecast changes in biodiversity.

The Network Science Meeting was co-hosted by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute's Center for Tropical Forest Science (CTFS), one of the most important tropical forest networks in the world.


Patricia represented Peru-Manu National Park-Cocha Cashu Biological Station, future site for TEAM and CTFS. I participated in the development of the Plant Phenology and Functional Traits protocols, and was one of the judges for the poster session.

Inga La Puma, a Ph.D. candidate in Rick Lathrop’s lab, attended the LANDIS-II workshop in Rhinelander, WI.  Inga is using the LANDIS-II, a spatial forest succession and disturbance model, to help predict how the Pinelands will change with differing rates of land-use and fire disturbances.

At the workshop, LANDIS-II users from the US and Canada came together to present research using LANDIS-II at the Kemp forestry field camp.  Inga presented her work in the NJ Pinelands, highlighting the recent large fires and the unique resprouting abilities of the pitch pine after fire. Inga also attended a developer's workshop to become more familiar with the C# programming language and learn how to program LANDIS-II disturbance modules for her specific needs.

The research group developing around this model is exciting and dynamic.  The collaborations created at these annual meetings will be lasting and productive.


The research of Inga La Puma and Jason Turnure, a Master’s student working with Ken Able was featured in the 10th anniversary publication of the program for Graduate Research Fellowships for the National Estuarine Research Reserve.  Inga’s three-year fellowship is to study the effects of fire and other disturbance in estuary watersheds. Jay has a two year fellowship to tag and track the movements of weakfish.


Esther Leibovich, a Ph.D. candidate in Gary Taghon’s lab, taught a 3-week "Microteaching" certificate program for the teaching assistant project and CASTL program. Esther also gave a lecture/training session on grading and assessment for the Introduction to College Teaching II course.




November and December have been busy months with many Qualifying Exams, Preliminary Proposal Defenses and M.S. and Ph.D. defenses.


Congratulations to the following:


On the successful completion of the Qualifying Exam:

  • Maria Stanko, advisor Peter Morin, on Oct. 26th.
  • Patricia Alvarez, advisor James White, Oct. 31st.
  • Monica Palta, advisor Joan Ehrenfeld, on Dec 10th.


On the successful defense of their Preliminary Proposal:

  • David La Puma, advisor Julie Lockwood, on Nov.6th.
  • Stacey Lettini, advisor Michael Sukhdeo, on Nov. 27th.
  • Inga La Puma, advisor Rick Lathrop, on Nov. 30th
  • Aabir Banerji, advisor Peter Morin, on Dec. 5th.
  • Patricia Alvarez, advisor James White, on Dec. 17th.
  • Joann Harvey, advisor Ed Green, on Dec. 18th.


On the successful completion of their Master’s Degree:

  • Sean Boyd, advisor David Bushek, on Nov. 2nd.
  • Thomas Almendinger, advisor Julie Lockwood, on Nov. 21st.
  • Ishaani Sen, advisor David Ehrenfeld, on Nov. 27th.
  • Jennifer Dore Terhar, advisor David Ehrenfeld, on Dec. 17th


On the successful defense of their Ph.D. Dissertation:

  • Shannon Galbraith-Kent, advisor Steven Handel, on Nov 12th.
  • Kristi Mac Donald-Beyers, advisor David Ehrenfeld, on Nov 28th.
  • Patricia Ramey, advisors Fred and Judy Grassle, on Nov. 29th.


Shannon Galbraith-Kent has accepted a tenure-track assistant professor position at her alma mater, Thomas More College. Congratulations Shannon!




Several alumni, including Kathy Parsons, Dave Shealer, and Jorge Saliva and their former advisor Joanna Burger "re-convened" during the 31st meeting of the Waterbird Society in Barcelona, Spain, Oct 28- Nov 3, 2007.  All gave oral presentations on their respective research on waterbird ecology or avian contaminants. Jorge reports that as always, it was great to spend time together and remember their times at Rutgers.