Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources


Ecology and Evolution Graduate Program Newsletter








Previous newsletters may be found at:






Jeremy Feinberg, a Ph.D. student in Joanna Burgerís lab, presented a poster at the Eighth Conference of the Herpetological Association of Africa. North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa in November.

Feinberg, J.A., T.M. Green and K.E. Hoffmann.†† Using GIS to study habitat use and home range of rare herpetofauna at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

This fall Steven Handel presented lectures on restoration ecology at three universities:

  • University of Nevada, Reno, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science.
  • University of California at Irvine, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology .
  • The New School University, New York City, Environmental Sensitivity Program .


Kristen Ross, a Ph.D. candidate in Joan Ehrenfeldís lab, gave a presentation titled: "Effects of Soil Amendments on the Nitrogen Dynamics of Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii) and Japanese Stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) in New Jersey Forests" at the Soils and Restoration Ecology Conference at Depaul University, Chicago, IL, December 18-20, 2006. This is a conference to promote soil ecology in the practice of restoration ecology.


Tom Virzi, a Ph.D. candidate in the Julie Lockwood lab, gave a presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American Oystercatcher Working Group on December 4th in Cedar Key, FL entitled "Evaluating American Oystercatcher Productivity:A Comparison of Nest Success Estimation Methods."

After the meeting the participants went on an excursion to survey wintering oystercatchers in the area and Tom resighted four birds that he banded in NJ last summer. That's the farthest south a NJ breeding oystercatcher has been resighted so far.....the banding efforts have been very helpful in understanding the migratory patterns of these birds.





Myla Aronson, a Ph.D. candidate in the Steven Handel lab, reports a publication:

Aronson, M. F. J., S. N. Handel, and S. E. Clemants. 2006. Fruit type, life form and origin determine the success of woody plant invaders in an urban landscape.  Biological Invasions (in press).


 Ehrenfeld, J. G. 2006. A potential novel source of information for screening and

monitoring the impact of exotic plants on ecosystems. Biological Invasions. 8:1511-1521.


John Tedrow, Professor emeritus, presented an invitational report at the World Congress of Soil Science entitled: Latitudinal Zonation of Polar Soils. The report is scheduled for publication in Pochvovedenie.


John Tedrow, Professor emeritus, wrote a review of Dr. Daniel Hillelís latest book (his No. 22) entitled The Natural History of the Bible. The review is scheduled for publication in Soil Science in January 2007. You may recall that Dan gave a seminar at Rutgers a few years ago. Further, he was a graduate student in the Soils Dept during the late 1940ís.

Post-Doc Activities:


Mikael Forup in the Handel lab was recently invited to a workshop on environmental improvement in Shandung Providence, China.

Faculty Achievements and Activities:


Steven Handel and Steven Clemants of CURE are the restoration ecologists on the team that has won the national competition to redesign the Great Falls State Park in Paterson, NJ.  The project will completely re-do the landscape around the falls and the Passaic River in Paterson and add back much natural diversity to the slopes and woodlands around that reach of the river. 

The master plan for the new, 1,450 acre Orange County Great Park in California was approved in October.  Steven Handel leads the natural systems group for the master plan which includes restoring habitat to about 600 acres.  The plan and a short video of the plan are available online at

Student Awards, Achievements, and Activities:


Celine Santiago Bass and Jessica Reichmuth, both doctoral candidates from Judith Weis' lab, participated in a roundtable discussion with representatives from various federal and state agencies to provide feedback on the Draft Meadowlands Comprehensive Restoration Implementation Plan (MCRIP). 


Joe Pauliníswork on human-wildlife interactions, specifically deer-human interactions, has been covered by several newspapers nationwide. The Fort Wayne News Sentinel in Indiana and the Belleville News-Democrat in Illinois are two of the more recent. Joe is a Ph.D. candidate working with David Ehrenfeld.


Esther Leibovich, a Ph.D. candidate in Gary Taghonís lab, was awarded a Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) fellowship for 2007. A memo from Dean Barbara Bender on behalf of the Tap Project and the Center for the advancement of Teaching explained the CASTL fellowship as follows: ďRutgers has been designated a member of the Leadership Program of the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The primary focus of our efforts for the next three years will be on enhancing graduate students' pedagogical expertise as they prepare for the professoriate. As part of the project, (Rutgers) will name four graduate students as CASTL Fellows for calendar year 2007. These appointments will involve attending monthly meetings, presenting sessions on pedagogical issues for other graduate students, and participating, in a leadership capacity, in programs hosted by the project.Ē The fellowship stipend is to be used for scholarly expenses. Congratulations Esther!


Emilie Stander, a Ph.D. candidate in Joan Ehrenfeldís lab, attended a workshop called "Denitrification Modeling Across Terrestrial, Freshwater, and Marine Systems" at the Institute ofEcosystem Studies Nov. 28-30.The workshop was the first held by the newly formed Denitrification Research Coordination Network, organized in part by Peter Groffman.Emilie presented a poster titled "The Effects of Urbanization on Nitrate Retention and Loss in Wetlands."The workshop was attended by about 35 participants from all over the world.


Quals and Prelims:


Congratulations to the following on the successful defense of their Preliminary Proposals:

  • Alison Seigel, advisor Julie Lockwood, on December 11, 2006.
  • Sharron Hicks Crane, co-advisors Tamar Barkay and John Dighton, on December 14, 2006.

Congratulations to Linda Rohleder on the successful completion of her Qualifying Exam on December, 19, 2006.





Jerald Dosch (Ph.D. 1996, advisor Don Caccamise) reports from Macalester College in St. Paul MN that he and Chris Peterson (Ph.D. 1992, advisor, Steward T.A. Pickett) now at University of Georgia, have the following publication:

Dosch, J. J., C. J. Peterson, and B. Haines.  2007.  Seed rain during initial colonization of abandoned pastures in the premontane wet forest zone of southern Costa Rica.  Journal of Tropical Ecology 23:1-9.


Kathy Sedia (Ph.D. 2001, advisor Joan Ehrenfeld) has published the following paper:


Sedia, E. and J. G. Ehrenfeld. 2006. Differential effects of lichens and mosses on soil enzyme activity and litter decomposition. Biology and Fertility of Soils 43:177-189.