Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources


Faculty and Student Newsletter

June 2005


Previous newsletters may be found at:





The Grabosky lab group continues to be busy.

The 81st Annual Conference for the International Society of Arboriculture will be held August 7-10, 2005 in Nashville. The Grabosky lab will be in attendance.


  • Dr. Jason Grabosky will be presenting "Defining the ability of roots to lift pavement.” using data from a mechanical root and pressure mapping system developed at Cook College, in the "Plant Health Care" general concurrent session.  

This is Jason’s last year as President of the Arboricultural Research and Education Academy, and his last year organizing and hosting the research and education sessions for the group, this year with delegates from Australia, Asia, Europe, and North America.

Jason will also be moderating one half-day general concurrent session of papers on "Planting the Urban Forest"  

  • Greg Dahle, a Ph.D. student in Jason’s lab, will be presenting "Decay patterns in Silver maple parent stems converted from round-over to V-trims during line clearance operations." during the half-day "Pruning" general concurrent session. 

Extension faculty Pedro Perdomo and Nick Polanin will be presenting a poster "Training Hispanics in New Jersey's tree care industry - bridging the language barrier".

  • Frank Gallagher, a Ph.D. candidate in Jason’s lab, was asked by the World Forestry Institute to co-lead a trip in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. Frank presented the eastern view of the old growth forest issue on June 4,5, and 6th.  The trip, which included stops at Mount Hood and Crater Lake, included representatives from the timber industry, NGO's, and government officials.


At the Project Learning Tree annual conference, a program of the American Forest Foundation, Frank presented a poster session on developing an evaluative rubric for environmental education program delivery.  


Matthew Kimball, a Ph.D. student, and his advisor Dr. Kenneth Able presented a talk titled “The long-term response of intertidal fish communities to restoration efforts at former salt hay farms. “ at the  American Fisheries Society Mid-Atlantic Chapter Spring Meeting, May 11, 2005, at Rider University


Jennifer Adams Krumins, a Ph.D. candidate in Peter Morin’s lab, is presenting a talk at the American Society for Limnology and Oceanography meeting in Santiago de Compostella Spain on June 23, 2005 titled: “ Effects of Food Web Diversity and Productivity on Bacterially Mediated Decomposition.”   Co-authors include: Zachary T. Long, Christopher F. Steiner and Peter J. Morin. 


Dr. Juan Jose Robledo Arnuncio and Dr. Eva Gonzales, Post-Doctoral Associates of the Smouse group, and Dr. Delphine Grivet – more loosely associated, will present papers at the Society for the Study of Evolution Meetings in Fairbanks, Alaska in June:


  • Robledo-Arnuncio JJ, Alía R and Gil L. 2005. Mating system variation in Pinus sylvestris L. populations of contrasting size: An empirical and modeling approach. Soc. Study Evol. Meet., Fairbanks, AL,
  • Gonzales E, Chang SM and Hamrick JL. 2005. Identification of glacial refugia by phylogeographic analyses of a forest understory species, Trillium cuneatum. Soc. Study Evol. Meet., Fairbanks, AL.
  • Grivet D, Smouse PE and Sork VL. 2005. Woodpecker-mediated seed movement in the California valley oak using a maternal-identity approach. Soc. Study Evol. Meet., Fairbanks, AL.




Dr. Julie Lockwood reports the following publications:

  • Marchetti, M.P., J.L. Lockwood and T. Light. Urbanization promotes invasion and extinction but not homogenization among California freshwater fishes. Biological Conservation. In Press
  • Lockwood, J.L. P. Cassey, and T.M. Blackburn.  2005.  The role of propagule pressure in explaining species invasion.  Trends in Ecology and Evolution 20(5): 223-228. 


There is continuing publication activity from the Smouse group:

·        Smouse PE and Robledo-Arnuncio JJ (2005) Measuring the genetic structure of the pollen pool as the probability of paternal identity. Heredity  :94, 640-649.

  • Mylecraine KA, Kuser JE, Zimmermann GL and Smouse PE. 2005. Rangewide provenance variation in Atlantic white-cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides): Early survival and growth in New Jersey and North Carolina plantations. For Ecol Manag (in press).
  • Gonzáles Martínez SC, Robledo-Arnuncio JJ and Smouse PE. 2005. The consequences and implications of introgression in the conservation of forest trees. In: Gene Flow and Germplasm Management. Issues in Genetic Resources, (de) Vicente, MC (Ed.). IPGRI, Rome. (in press)


  • Peakall R and Smouse PE. 2005. GenAlEx 6: Genetic Analysis in Excel. Population Genetic Software forTeaching and Research. Molec. Ecol. Notes (in press).
  • Peakall R and Smouse PE. 2005. GenAlEx 6: Genetic Analysis in Excel. Population Genetic Software for Teaching and Research ã Aust. Natl. Univ., Canberra, Australia.


Dr. Ming Xu has published the following:

  • Misson, L., Tang, J., Xu, M., McKay, M. and Goldstein, A. 2005. Influences of recovery from clear-cut, climate variability, and thinning on the carbon balance of a young ponderosa pine plantation, Agriculture and Forest Meteorology (in press).
  • Liu, B., Xu, M., Henderson M. 2005. Observed trends of precipitation amount, frequency, and intensity in China, 1960-2000, Journal of Geophysical Research (in press).


Grants and funding:


Dr.  Julie Lockwood  was awarded two grants: one a grant from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation for Conservation of threatened grassland birds within Duke Farms, $5450.00 and another from the Critical Ecosystems Science Initiative, National Park Service for fire effects on Cape Sable seaside sparrows, - $146,000.


Dr. Ming Xu was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant totaling $768,838 in collaboration with Drs. Daniel Murnick and Erik Hamerlynck. The proposal was titled “Development and Field Validation of Innovative Instrumentation for Measurement of Ecosystem Carbon Exchange using Isotopic Fluxes of CO2 Species.”


      Achievements and Activities:


Congratulations to Dr. Richard Lathrop and J. Hasse. *  The following paper was ranked Number 2 out of the Top 25 papers in the Journal of Applied Geography  (May 2005).

Hasse, J.* and R.G. Lathrop. 2003. Land Resource impact indicators of urban sprawl. Applied Geography. 23:159-175.


*J. Hasse is a RU Geography Ph.D. grad.


A delegation of Rutgers professors visited Southern Thailand this past May 14-21, 2005 to investigate the possibilities for greater academic interchange between Prince of  Songkla University (PSU) and Rutgers.  DEENR professor Rick Lathrop, IMCS professor John Dighton, Biotech professor Gerben Zylstra and Political Science professor Mike Shafer composed the delegation.

PSU's main campus in Hat Yai shares many of Cook College's interests with departments in natural resources, biology (ecology/marine science), environmental science, plant science and biotechnology.  We identified many possibilities for joint research and educational collaboration in the areas of ecology, coastal/watershed management and biotechnology.  Of special note is PSU's graduate program in Ecology with classes taught in English.   The delegation also toured some of southern Thailand's tsunami affected coastal areas, laying the groundwork for this summer's extended visit by a cadre of Rutgers undergraduates students.   A lengthier report detailing the delegation's findings will be ready later this summer.

Any faculty and students interested in learning more about research/educational possibilities at PSU and Southern Thailand are urged to talk to one of the professors listed above.



The Lockwood and Drake lab groups have been busy:

  • Ryan Sklar completed his George H. Cook Thesis, "Bias in estimating the population sizes of grassland birds" as a member of the Lockwood lab group.
  • Karen Mabb, and Julie Lockwood visited Gainesville, Florida to meet with Mike Avery of the USDA Wildlife Services group.  They settled on a collaborative research venture dealing with the population dynamics of Monk Parakeets in Florida. Karen is a  Ph.D. candidate in the Lockwood lab
  • Dr. David Drake, Tom Virzi* and Dr. Julie Lockwood successfully taught the second week of the Ecology Spring Field Camp at Sedge Island Environmental Education Center at Island Beach State Park, NJ.  This course is a two-week undergraduate field course.  Those interested in seeing pictures of the class should go to and look for the Rutgers photos links on the right side of the page.

*Tom is a Ph.D. student in the Lockwood/Drake labs.


The Smouse lab group reports the following activities:

·        Dr. Juan José Robledo-Arnuncio participated in a major field study of tropical dry forest Guanacaste (Enterolobium cyclocarpum) in April, contrasting levels of genetic connectedness across landscapes that are natural with those that are anthropogenically disturbed.

·        Dr. Peter Smouse spent two weeks in Bariloche, Argentina, presenting a workshop on Population Genetics in Excel, visiting field sites, and exploring future collaborative opportunities with the Instituto Nacional Tecnología y Agropecueria (INTA). The genera of forest tree species involved were Nothofagus (5 species), Auraucaria and Austrocedrus.

  • Mr. Pat Mulhall (2005), a Cook Biology major in his second year, has joined the Smouse group for Summer 2005, to obtain his first research experience. He will be working on paternity analysis in Enterolobium cyclocarpum, the Costa Rican Guanacaste tree.
  • Eva Gonzales (2005), recently finished her Ph.D. studies at the University of Georgia, and has joined the Smouse group as a Postdoctoral Associate. She will be working on the Costa Rican dry forest tree species Enterolobium cyclocarpum (Guanacaste).


Jay Kelly, a Ph.D. candidate in Andrew Vayda’s lab, led a tour through Helyar woods, on Edible and Medicinal Wild Plants, for the New Brunswick Middle School's After-School Program on June 1st. Jay also visited the second grade classes at Franklin Elementary School in Highland Park to teach them about rainforest ecology on June 8th.


Jeanmaire Molina, a graduate student in Dr. Lena Struwe’s lab, received a grant of $2700 from the J. and J. Ruinen Fellowship in Tropical Biology and the Center for Tropical Forest Science-Arnold Arboretum Asia Program of Harvard University. Jeanmaire will be conducting research in the Philippines this summer.


Working in her capacity as a Red Bank Environmental Commission member, Linda Rohleder organized a volunteer planting day on May 22 at the Bellhaven Nature Area in Red Bank, NJ. Volunteers from the local neighborhood, Monmouth County Master gardeners, and the Red Bank Borough government planted more than 300 native plants on this one-acre riverfront property. The event was covered by one of the local newspapers "The Hub". Linda is a Ph.D. student on the Joan Ehrenfeld lab.


Joe Paulin, a David Ehrenfeld Ph.D. student, taught a class of fifth graders in Mullica Hill, New Jersey about black bear biology, research, things to do around the home to decrease the chances of attracting bears, and how to react when encountering a black bear. Although there have been five bear sightings in the area this past year, none of the children had seen a black bear yet. However, a young male bear made his way through nearby townships the following week. Joe tells us that as black bears in the state increase, and continue to extend their range south and east, it is important to be proactive in educating the public about coexisting with bears. In 2004, black bears were sighted in all of New Jersey’s 21 counties.


Several graduate students received Summer Fellowships to conduct research at Hutcheson Memorial Forest.

  • Myla Aronson’s work is examining the influence of Microstegium vimineum, a non-indigenous invasive grass, on canopy seedling dynamics. Specifically, Myla is interested in the influence of M. vimineum on seed germination, seedling establishment, growth and survival of future canopy dominants such as Quercus rubra, Fraxinus americana and Acer rubrum. Myla is a Ph.D. candidate in Steven Handel’s lab.
  • Kenneth Elgersma, a Ph.D. student in the Joan Ehrenfeld lab, is setting up plots to monitor growth of Norway maple (Acer platanoides), a tree invasive in the U.S. and native in Germany, and Box elder (Acer negundo), a U.S. native that is invasive in Germany.  Kenneth is looking for evidence of feedback between the plant and the soil microbiota.  He hopes to do a mirror-image of this study in Germany, where Box elder is the invasive and Norway maple is the native species.  This, he hopes, will contribute to an understanding of which effects are species-specific and which effects are due to being either a native or a novel species.
  • Carrie Norin’s project is titledDensity Dependent and Primary Production Effects on Phytochrome-Mediated Shade Avoidance in Solidago.” Carrie is a Ph.D. student in the Steven Handel lab.
  • Linda Rohleder, a Joan Ehrenfeld Ph.D. student, is doing an exploratory study to obtain baseline data on forest seed banks in successional forests of know ages to compare natives and exotics. 
  • Maria Stanko, a Ph.D. student in Ted Stiles lab, will be repairing and refurbishing the aviary located in HMF in order to have a facility to perform feeding trial experiments with frugivorous Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum).  This research will examine the food choices and parental behavior of these birds in order to investigate how the relationship between fruiting plants and their avian dispersers is affected by the specific needs of caring for nestlings.  Her plans for the facility will not preclude its use by other students or faculty; in fact, she hopes the repairs will stimulate interest in using this resource for other research.




Daniel Hernandez, advisor David Drake, successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis titled “Conservation and foraging dynamics of migratory shorebirds” on June 13th.  Dan, you may remember from a previous letter, has accepted a tenure track position at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.


Kristi MacDonald-Beyers, a Ph.D. candidate in Dr. David Ehrenfeld’s lab, has accepted a position as the Conservation & Policy Associate at NY/NJ Baykeeper, the citizen steward for the Hudson-Raritan estuary.  Kristi will be working with them on habitat conservation, restoration and policy issues.  Check their website at  for more information on the Baykeepers.


Dr. Torsten Vor, a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Joan Ehrenfeld’s lab, is returning  to Germany to work in the Institute of Silviculture at the University of Goettingen on July, 15th .  We are sorry to see him leave and wish him all good things in the future.  Torsten is planning to work on a common project with the Ehrenfeld lab, so he will remain in touch.


J.C. Clement, a former Post-Doctoral Fellow in Joan Ehrenfeld’s lab, has accepted a tenured position at the University of Grenoble. He will be conducting research on landscape biogeochemistry and teach plant biology with a research team supervised by Sandra Lavorel.  J.C. and Gwen are happy to be returning to France at the end of July.


With this newsletter we say good-bye to two faculty who have accepted positions at other universities.

Dr. David Drake is moving to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. David will be a member of the Wildlife Ecology Dept.

Dr. Colleen Hatfield is moving to California. Colleen will be a member of the Biology Department at California State University-Chico.


 We will miss their scholarship and friendship and wish them all the best the future can hold.