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ECOLOGY CENTER SEMINAR SERIES

2016-2017 Seminar Series

Each Speaker Will Give Two Seminars:
Wednesday: 6:00-7:00 pm in BNR 102 (followed by a reception, location TBD)  and  Thursday: 4:00-5:00 pm in ENGR 101 (preceded by refreshments at 3:30)

January 18-19, 2017

Daniel Schindler  University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Professor, Department of Biology

Daniel SchindlerMy research takes an ecosystem approach to exploring how aquatic systems are organized and respond to changes in the broader environmental. In particular I am interested in how aquatic ecosystems respond to changing climate and land-use, and interact with fisheries. I pursue most of my current research in southwest Alaska as a principal investigator of the Alaska Salmon Program that has studied Pacific salmon, their ecosystems, and their fisheries in western Alaska since the 1940s. As part of this program, my research group seeks to understand how watersheds function in terms of: 1) capturing, storing and transporting water, 2) processing nutrients and carbon, 3) providing habitat for plankton, insects, fishes, birds and large predators such as bears, 4) supporting ecosystem services to people (e.g., commercial and recreational fisheries) and 5) how geomorphic attributes of watersheds regulate these processes and services. Of particular interest is in understanding how the physical and biological complexity of watersheds affects the resilience of their functions to changes in regional environmental changes such as shifting climate or changes in fisheries.




February 22-23, 2017

Nate Stephenson  USGS, Three Rivers, CA
Research Ecologist


Nate Stephenson

Earth’s vast forests provide us with irreplaceable goods and services such as carbon sequestration, hydrologic regulation, clean water, biodiversity, critical wildlife habitat, wood products, and recreational and spiritual opportunities.  An overarching goal of our research is to improve our ability to understand, forecast, and adapt to the effects of ongoing global changes – particularly changing climatic and disturbance regimes – on forests.  Accordingly, most of our research falls in three broad, complementary themes:  (1) improving mechanistic understanding of forest and carbon dynamics, (2) detection, attribution, and interpretation of forest changes, and (3) adaptations to rapid global changes.  The last theme extends well beyond forests, to natural areas in general.

March 1-2, 2017

Diana Wall  Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
Professor, Department of Biology
Director, School of Global Environmental Sustainability

Diana WallA soil ecologist and environmental scientist, Diana is actively engaged in research exploring how life in soil (microbial and invertebrate diversity) contributes to healthy, fertile and productive soils and thus to society, and the consequences of human activities on soil globally. Her research on soil biota, particularly soil nematodes, extends from agroecosystems to arid ecosystems. Diana has spent more than 25 seasons in the Antarctic Dry Valleys examining how global changes impact soil biodiversity, ecosystem processes and ecosystem services. She currently serves as Science Chair for the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative.

April 5-6, 2017

Doug McCauley  University of California, Santa Barbara, CA
Assistant Professor, Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology

Doug McCauleyThe goal of my research program is to better understand how ecological communities are constructed and how they operate - as well as to determine how these communities interact with one another at the ecosystem level. I am particularly interested in how body size shapes the ecology of communities and ecosystems. One of the most dramatic anthropogenic impacts on global ecosystems has been the selective reduction and elimination of large-bodied vertebrates. These losses have dramatically reshaped the size structure of many ecological communities – in both contemporary and historical ecological time. I am deeply interested in this phenomenon because it provides a powerful opportunity to examine how the body size of particular species and the size distributions of entire communities influence key properties of ecological function.

April 19-20, 2017

Michelle Marvier  Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA
Professor, Environmental Studies and Sciences

Michelle MarvierMy research program has coalesced around the theme of informing environmental policy and strategy. This entails endangered species management, conservation investment, and environmental risk assessment. Much of my research entails analyzing data collected by others, building databases from a variety of public sources and analyzing these data, or critically evaluating alternative recommendations for environmental action.






September 7-8, 2016

Carla Staver  Yale University, New Haven, CT
Assistant Professor, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Carla StaverOur work focuses on the dynamics and distribution of biomes, especially within and at the intersection of savanna and forest. We use a combination of empirical and modeling approaches to understand how local interactions of trees with their resource and disturbance environment scale up to predict landscape- and continental-scale patterns in tree cover and the distributions of biomes. I am especially interested in the idea that historical ecological patterns are fundamental drivers determining current and future distributions of ecological pattern. Hysteresis and historical contingencies are major, but relatively under-appreciated, determinants of ecological dynamics. The lab’s field work has focused primarily in savannas in South Africa, especially Kruger and Hluhluwe iMfolozi Parks, but we are also involved in field work in both savannas and forests of tropical Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia.

September 21-22, 2016

Sharon Strauss  University of California, Davis, CA
Professor, Department of Evolution & Ecology

Sharon StraussA long-term focus of my research has been the inextricable interrelationship between ecology and evolution, and its effect on the functioning of natural systems. My research, and that of my lab, focuses on how organisms are influenced both ecologically and evolutionarily by the complex communities in which they are embedded.







October 12-13, 2016

Thomas Dietz  Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Professor, Sociology & Environmental Science and Policy
Assistant Vice President for Environmental Research


Thomas DietzHis current research examines the human driving forces of environmental change, environmental values and the interplay between science and democracy in environmental issues. Dr. Dietz is an active participant in the Ecological and Cultural Change Studies Group at MSU and the Animal Studies Program.

November 16-17 2016

Bruce Hungate  Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ
Professor, Ecosystem Ecology; Director, Colorado Plateau Analytical Laboratory;
Director, US Dept of Energy's Western Regional Center of the National Institute
       for Climatic Change Research

Bruce HungateResearch focuses on the ecology and management of global change, and microbial ecology from humans to the globe. His research occurs in grasslands, woodlands, forests, and rivers in the temperate zone, boreal forests in Siberia, and tropical forests of the Amazon basin.

November 30-December 1, 2016

Nichole Barger  University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
Assistant Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Nichole BargerAs an ecosystem ecologist my research mission is to better understand the fundamental ecological processes that influence the structure and function of dryland ecosystems and the resilience of these ecosystems to anthropogenic and natural disturbance. Dryland ecosystems make up 40% of the global land surface and support one-sixth of world’s population. Over the past several decades, there has been widespread recognition that increasing human population pressures and land use intensification across dryland ecosystems has resulted in extensive degradation or “desertification” across many of these regions. In my lab group we work on two broad research themes which may be briefly described as: (1) understanding historical drivers and biogeochemical responses to woody plant encroachment and the ecological responses of these ecosystems to a broad range of restoration strategies and (2) evaluating the dominant nitrogen input pathways and their influence on ecosystem biogeochemical cycling and how anthropogenic disturbance may alter these cycles. In my research program, we employ a variety of techniques in the fields of soil biogeochemistry, terrestrial plant ecology, and dendrochronology to address questions that not only further our knowledge of the structure and function of dryland ecosystems, but also address contemporary issues in the management of these systems.