Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources


Faculty and Student Newsletter

December 2005


Previous newsletters may be found at:






Julie Lockwood and her lab have been busy:

  • Julie, David LaPuma and Ben Baiser participated in the 3rd Annual Fire Ecology and Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow Recovery meeting in Homestead from December 4th to 7thDavid LaPuma’s talk was titled *Fire, who needs it?* Fire effects on the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow in Everglades National Park.” Ben presented his work titled “The effects of water on the nesting success of the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow.” Beyond presenting their research, they also participated in setting fire management goals for the coming year (2006) for Everglades National Park.
  • Tom Virzi gave a  presentation at the American Oystercatcher Working Group's annual meeting which was held in Cape May, NJ (Dec 6-7).  His talk was titled: "American Oystercatchers Breeding in New Jersey: Evidence of a Habitat Shift in Response to Human Disturbance on Coastal Barrier Beaches".


Peter Morin gave an invited lecture on Nov. 30 in the Biocomplexity Seminar Series at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM. The title of Peter's seminar was: "Small Worlds: Using Microbes to Answer Big Questions in Ecology".




Alex Felson, a Ph.D. student in Steward T.A. Pickett’s lab, reports the following publication:

Felson AF and Pickett STA. 2005. Designed experiments: new approaches to understanding urban ecosystems. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment: 3 (10) 549-556.


Ming Xu reports the following publication:

Qian, Y., Kaiser, D.P., Leung, L.R., Xu, M. More frequent cloud-free sky and less surface solar radiation in China from 1955-2000, Geophysical Research Letters.


Student Awards, Achievements, and Activities:


Alex Felson was promoted to Director of Ecological Design at EDAW, the landscape architecture firm.




Nan Shao, advisor Colleen Hatfield, successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation on November 21, 2005. Her dissertation was titled “Invasibility and Vulnerability of Plant Communities to Biological Invasions: A Spatially Explicit Stochastic Modeling Approach.” Dr. Shao will be moving to Atlanta at the end of December.


Kevin Flesher, advisor Andrew Vayda, successfully defended Ph.D. dissertation titled “Explaining the Biogeography of the Medium and Large Mammals in a Human-dominated Landscape in the Atlantic Forest of Bahia, Brazil: Evidence for the Role of Agroforestry Systems as Wildlife Habitat,” on December 9, 2005. Dr. Flesher is moving to Brazil at the end of this month where he intends to continue his work in conservation.


Qualifying Exams

The Qualifying Exam is the first official “rite of passage” for Ph.D. students. This exam marks the official transition to Ph.D. candidacy. Typically, the Ecology and Evolution Graduate Program requires this to be an oral exam testing the students overall scientific knowledge with an emphasis on ecology and evolution.

This has been a busy month as several graduate students successfully completed their Qualifying Exams and are now Ph.D. candidates.

Congratulations to:

  • Patricia Ramey, co advisors Fred Grassle and Judy Grassle, Nov. 14th
  • Thomas Virzi, advisor Julie Lockwood, November 29th


Preliminary Exam

The ‘prelim” in Ecology and Evolution is the presentation and defense of a written Ph.D. research proposal to the student’s committee.

Congratulations to:

  • Jennifer Krumins, a Ph.D. candidate in Peter Morin’s lab, successfully defended her preliminary proposal on November 2, 2005
  • Frank Gallagher, a Ph.D. candidate in Jason Grabosky’s lab, successfully defended his preliminary proposal on November 23, 2005.





John Brzorad, Ph.D. 1994, in the Biotechnology Department, Forsyth Technical College, Winston-Salem, NC  reported the following publication:

J. N. Brzorad, A.D. Maccarone and K.J. Conley. 2004 "Foraging energetics of Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets" J. Field Ornith. 75(3): 266-280.