Director’s Message: Autumn 2016

The week before classes started this fall, I was at our new graduate student orientation in the Douglas Classroom at the Center for Urban Horticulture. It was a beautiful day, and I was absorbing the excitement and enthusiasm in the room; it was palpable and even more electric than usual on the eve of a new quarter. Afterwards, as I was leaving Douglas Hall, I remember thinking I might run into Professor Sarah Reichard in the parking area or over at Merrill Hall. Sarah always thrived on and reflected student energy and passion, and I was eager to share with her my impressions of this new crop of students.

I was struck with a deep sadness and emptiness, though, when I remembered we’ll never get a chance to bump into Sarah in these halls anymore, or among the plants and parks and gardens she loved so much. That’s been a fairly constant feeling, as I’ve thought about her nearly every day since she passed away at the end of August. When I’m out for a run in the Arboretum, walking under the big sequoia outside my office, or biking past the UW Farm, I can’t help thinking about Sarah and all she brought to the school, the UW Botanic Gardens, our students and the greater Seattle community.

2016_09_sarah-reichardI can vividly picture her leading her plant identification class in front of Anderson Hall, students buzzing around her as she showed them our giant rhododendron and quizzed me on an unusual cedar (which I didn’t properly identify, earning giggles from the students). I remember last year’s Earth Day event, when Sarah pulled me aside to see the then-fledgling progress on the Arboretum Loop Trail. She confided how much she cherished those stolen moments to walk, without purpose or haste, through an overlooked grove that housed a special shrub or tree she absolutely loved. She seemed to know every nook and knoll of the Arboretum and had a story to share around every turn.

There are so many different scenes and memories to sort through, yet all of them capture a sense of Sarah’s tremendous vitality and vision. She lived her passion every day and shared it with everyone around her. She was a consummate scholar and devoted teacher of plants and plant communities, and her travels and research touched scores of lives around the world. She loved working with students of all ages, and she brought that energy and advocacy to all of our meetings and discussions. You couldn’t help but learn from Sarah. She was brilliantly forthright in her approach and never shied from saying what was on her mind.

Sarah, in short, served as an inspiring model for the kind of educator, scientist and colleague we all aspire to be—and hope to cultivate in our students. We’ve lost a dear friend, and the loss feels even greater since we never had a chance to say goodbye. Yet if we take cues from the way Sarah lived her life and career, she will live on with us as a treasured mentor and guide for our community.

Tom DeLuca
School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

Photo © Wendy Gibble/UW Botanic Gardens.

2016 Distinguished Alumni Seminar: Professor Randy Dahlgren

On Wednesday, October 5, we are very pleased to welcome Professor Randy Dahlgren (’84, M.S.; ’87, Ph.D.) from the University of California – Davis to give our annual Distinguished Alumni Seminar: “From Subduction to Salmon: Geologic Subsidies Drive High Productivity of a Volcanic Spring-Fed River.” The talk is open to the public and will run from 3:30 to 4:20 p.m. in Anderson 223.

randy-dahlgrenAbout the Speaker
Randy is a Distinguished Professor of Soil Science and Biogeochemistry in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources at the University of California – Davis, where he holds the Russell L. Rustici Endowed Chair in Rangeland Watershed Sciences. Randy received his Ph.D. and M.S. in forest soils from SEFS (then the College of Forest Resources), and his B.S. in soil science from North Dakota State University. His research program in biogeochemistry examines the interaction of hydrological, geochemical and biological processes in regulating nutrient cycling in terrestrial ecosystems and surface and ground water chemistry. He is a fellow of the Soil Science Society of America, fellow of the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute, and has received several awards, including the UCD 2008 Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award, 2012 UC Davis Prize for Undergraduate Teaching and Scholarly Achievement (considered the UC-Davis Nobel Prize), and the West Lake Friendship Award from the Governor of Zhejiang Province, China.

About the Talk
Critical habitats necessary to support cold-water species in lotic ecosystems are anticipated to diminish as global climate change reduces summertime availability of cold water in streams. Volcanic spring-fed streams may prove an exception to this habitat loss as large aquifers with high residence times produce reliable stream flow for sustaining cold-water species. Here, we identify a hitherto overlooked exceptionally productive and resilient environment in which large groundwater springs located within volcanic arcs provide consistent cold-water stream flow and ecologically significant nitrogen and phosphorus inputs from geologic sources. In the spring-fed Shasta River of northern California, steelhead trout take advantage of abundant food and stable year-round flow and water temperature regimes to accrue a substantial growth advantage over individuals from an adjacent non-spring-fed stream, exhibiting a six-fold increase in mass and two-fold increase in length. Results demonstrate that geologically derived nutrients in spring-fed streams are driving aquatic ecosystem productivity and resiliency, making these habitats exceptionally important for conserving cold-water species impacted by global climate change.

We are thrilled to welcome Randy for the Distinguished Alumni Seminar, and we hope you’ll be able to join us!

Professor Sarah Reichard: A Celebration of Life (10/13)

The School of Environmental and Forest Sciences will be hosting a celebration of life in honor of Professor Sarah Hayden Reichard (1957-2016) on Thursday, October 13. The celebration will be a two-part event, and guests are invited to attend either or both parts.

2016_08_SarahReichardThe first part of the celebration will be at the Washington Park Arboretum from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Guests are asked to meet in Wisteria Hall at the Graham Visitor’s Center at 2 p.m. From there they will be given a map indicating three separate areas around the park where guest speakers will be sharing stories of Sarah. The speakers will remain at the areas and will be giving informal chats. Each chat will last approximately 15 minutes.

Later that afternoon, we will host a more formal celebration at the Don James Center in Husky Stadium. This program will begin with a reception from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., followed by a formal presentation featuring several speakers from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Please mark your calendars to join us in honoring Sarah, and we hope you’ll RSVP as soon as possible. We look forward to seeing you there.

Photo of Sarah Reichard © SEFS.

Rewilding a Rescued Ocelot in Peru

While doing field research in Peru a few months ago, SEFS doctoral student Samantha Zwicker helped rescue a young male ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) in the remote community of Lucerna along the Piedras River.

Khan, rescued at a little more than a month old.

Khan, rescued at a little more than a month old.

Ocelots, also known as dwarf leopards, are elusive wild cats that are found in the jungle throughout South America, and even up through Mexico and the southern edge of Texas. This particular ocelot, named Khan, is now about 4.5 months old. He had been removed from his mother at about one month and was living in a box, malnourished and dehydrated. Once rescued, he immediately bonded with one of Sam’s research partners, Harry Turner, a herpetologist and photographer from the United Kingdom (and also a former soldier who served in Afghanistan). Harry has since made the rather incredible decision to spend the next year rewilding Khan and getting him ready for reintroduction back into the Amazon ecosystem on his own.

That task is daunting on multiple levels. First, an ocelot has never before been successfully reintroduced to the wild. Then there’s the fact that ocelots are nocturnal, which means Harry will be living alone in the jungle for a year (or longer), walking every night with Khan without light, and sleeping during the day. It’s a huge commitment, which might explain why all of the other ocelot experts Sam contacted passed on the challenge. But it also presents a tremendous opportunity to expand our knowledge of ocelot behavior, as well as a chance to assist future efforts to reintroduce South American cats at a larger scale.

As Khan’s “mom” for the past couple months, Harry has been slowly teaching him about the jungle, and about being an ocelot. Khan is already navigating the jungle and streams, swimming, prowling and catching prey, and becoming aware of the dangers the jungle can pose—including humans. In the next year, he will become fierce and agile, taking on prey in the trees and on the ground his size and larger.

Khan, now 4.5 months old, already growing and developing skills quickly.

Khan, now 4.5 months old, already growing and developing skills quickly.

One of Sam’s advisors, Renata Pitman, is a cat specialist and veterinarian who has been working in the region since 2000. She is advising the reintroduction project along with Miryam Quevedo and Jesus Lescano, two veterinarians with San Marcos University who will be teaching students in the field and monitoring Khan’s health. They’ve already secured permits to reintroduce Khan, and the plan is to release him eventually at a location that will be surrounded by conservation lands and away from any settlements.

In order to cover the costs of this unprecedented rewilding project, Sam has launched a crowdfunding page to support Harry through his year with Khan, from permits, veterinary and basic food needs to other equipment and resources to assist his “mothering” (such as bite-resistant gloves and sleeves). The baseline goal of $13,490 is designed to cover essentials for Harry and Khan, and there are higher-end goals, as well, if they raise enough money.

It’s a fascinating project, with potential to impact conservation and reintroduction efforts across the region, and we’ll be following their progress closely.

So good luck, Harry, for what will certainly be an unforgettable year for you and Khan!

Photos of Khan © Harry Turner; photo of Harry and Khan © Sam Zwicker.

Khan with his "mother," Harry Turner.

Khan with his “mother,” Harry Turner.

John Tylczak to Host Third Photography Exhibition at SEFS

This October, we are excited that local photographer John Tylczak will be hosting his third exhibition in the Forest Club Room!

John grew up in Shelton, Wash., where four generations of his family have lived since 1885 (his grandfather, in fact, was the executor of Agnes Anderson’s estate). The black-and-white portraits he will be showcasing come from his broader collection, Views from the Northwoods: 1983-1995, which captures the faces of the Washington timber industry in the mid-1980s and early 1990s—from fallers and rigging crews, to loaders and transport workers, log scalers and mill workers. John’s collection includes more than 1,500 photographs, and the 10 images he’s sharing this year will focus on shots from shake and shingle mills that have all since closed.

The exhibition will kick off on Wednesday, October 5, and run through the end of the month. It will be open to the public during normal weekday business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

We heartily encourage you to come by and enjoy John’s powerful photographs!

Photo of Harold Posthmus, owner of the last shake mill in Whatcom County, 1985 © John Tylczak.

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2016 Pack Forest Summer Crew: Season Recap

For nine weeks this summer, five SEFS undergrads worked as interns down at Pack Forest getting immersive, hands-on field training in sustainable forest management. The students—Paul Albertine, Dana Chapman, Dana Reid, Chris Scelsa and Robert Swan—were part of the annual Pack Forest Summer Crew, and they recently wrapped up another successful season.

2016_09_summer-crew-recap2This year, the students got to work with several SEFS graduate students, as well as Jeff Kelly, the forester at Pack Forest. They participated in a wide range of activities, including a great amount of time measuring 85 permanent forest plots from the Continuous Forest Inventory (CFI) project. Doctoral student Emilio Vilanova says they became true field experts and were able to update vital information for the sustainable management of forests at Pack.

Other tasks for the students included assisting Matthew Aghai with his doctoral research, both at Pack Forest and at the Cedar River Watershed, and helping maintain a throughfall exclusion project led by Professor Greg Ettl and doctoral student Kiwoong Lee. They were critical in the upkeep of Pack Forest’s trail network, as well as the measurement of additional small-scale research projects, from regeneration surveys to the installation of other research plots. They also got to take three field trips, including official visits to Rainier Veneer and Silvaseed Company facilities, along with a two-day camping trip to the Cedar River Watershed.

In short, as always, the Pack Forest Summer Crew had an incredibly packed, productive and memorable internship. Take a look at a gallery of photos from their summer!

Photos © Emilio Vilanova.

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SEFS Seminar Series: Fall 2016 Schedule!

The schedule is set for the Fall 2016 SEFS Seminar Series, and this quarter’s talks are loosely organized around a spatial theme, “Ecosystems, Ecology and Management at Scales.” We’re excited to welcome a wide range of speakers, from new faculty hire Brian Harvey, to a research fellow from Tasmania, to Professor Randy Dahlgren, who will be visiting from UC Davis to give the Distinguished Alumni Seminar.

Held on Wednesdays from 3:30 to 4:20 p.m. in Anderson 223, the talks are always open to the public, and the first seminar of each month will be followed by a casual reception down the hall in the Forest Club Room (or the Salmon BBQ, in the case of the October 5 seminar!). Students can register for course credit under SEFS 529A.

Check out the schedule below and join us for as many talks as you can!

2016_09_fall-2016-posterWeek 1: September 28
“Carbon cycling in the global forest system”
Dr. Tom Crowther
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

Week 2: October 5*
“From subduction to salmon: Geologic subsidies drive high productivity of a volcanic spring-fed river”
Professor Randy Dahlgren
UC Davis

Week 3: October 12
“Putting PNW retention forestry practices into a global context”
Dr. Sue Baker
Research Fellow
University of Tasmania & Forestry Tasmania

Week 4: October 19
“A comparison of low-intensity management options for Douglas-fir dominated forests in western WA”
Professor Greg Ettl
SEFS

Week 5: October 26
“Bring on the heat: How climate change may protect eastern hemlock”
Dr. Angela Mech
Postdoctoral Research Associate
SEFS

Week 6: November 2*
“Avoided impacts on human health by recovering wood residues for bioenergy and bioproducts in the Pacific Northwest”
Professor Indroneil Ganguly
SEFS

Week 7: November 9
“Unlikely hero, or the next to fall? Causes and consequences of subalpine fir mortality in the wake of recent bark beetle outbreaks”
Dr. Brian Harvey
Smith Fellow (and future SEFS faculty member!)

Week 8: November 16
“California spotted owl habitat: New insights from a multiscale analysis from LiDAR data”
Professor Van Kane
SEFS

Week 9: November 30
“Changing fire regimes in eastern Washington: Recent large wildfire events and implications for dry forest management”
Dr. Susan Prichard
SEFS Research Scientist

Week 10: December 7*

“Exploring frequent fire forests at multiple scales”
Dr. Keala Hagmann
Postdoctoral Research Associate
SEFS

* Indicates reception after seminar

Annual Salmon BBQ: October 5!

For countless students around the country, the end of summer can trigger the cold Pavlovian sweats of a new school year. Around here, though, you’re far more likely to get the meat sweats this time of year thanks to our Annual Salmon BBQ, coming up on Wednesday, October 5, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Anderson Hall courtyard!

2016_08_Salmon BBQIn case you haven’t been to the Salmon BBQ before, we have this autumn feast down to a beautiful, mouth-watering science. Once again, SEFS alumnus Steve Rigdon (’02, B.S.) will be providing the salmon, caught using traditional Yakama fishing techniques. Luke Rogers (’99, B.S.; ’05, M.S.) will continue his long-running role of overseeing the grilling operation using fir and alder wood from Pack Forest, which forester Jeff Kelly will hew and haul up beforehand. Professor Emeritus Steve West will set up a few kegs from Big Time Brewery, and Professor Emeritus Bruce Lippke will have an assortment of wines on hand for you to sample. In addition to the salmon, we’ll be providing ample corn on the cob, chips and salad, but the rest of the meal is a potluck, so please bring a side dish, snack or dessert item to share!

All alumni, students, staff and faculty are invited, and we heartily encourage you to bring friends and family. The event is free—and awesome—and no RSVP is required, and we will have plenty of salmon for all.

Also, if you’re able to assist with set-up or clean-up, please contact Karl Wirsing to make sure we have enough help before and after the event. We’ll start getting ready around 3 p.m., and we’ll need even more hands to help clean up afterward from 6:30 to 7 (ish). If you can spare a few minutes at either end, that would be tremendously appreciated!

That’s Not All!
Come a little early to the Salmon BBQ and catch the Distinguished Alumni Seminar, which will feature Randy Dahlgren (’84, M.S.; ’87, Ph.D.), a professor of soil science and biogeochemistry in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources at the University of California – Davis. His talk, “From Subduction to Salmon: Geologic Subsidies Drive High Productivity of a Volcanic Spring-Fed River,” will run from 3:30 to 4:20 p.m. in Anderson 223 as part of the SEFS Seminar Series—ending just in time for the start of the festivities downstairs in the courtyard.

We invite you to take some time, as well, to browse through a wonderful photography exhibition in the Forest Club Room, where photographer John Tylczak has once again generously loaned 10 images from his collection, Views from the Northwoods: 1983-1995. These large, black-and-white photos capture the Washington timber industry in the 1980s and early ’90s, and this year his prints will focus on shots from area timber mills—including the beautiful image below. They will be on display throughout the month of October, so even if you can’t make the Salmon BBQ we encourage you to swing by Anderson Hall another time to enjoy these photographs.

It’s going to be a great kick-off for the fall quarter, and we sure hope to see you there!

Photo © John Tylczak.

Harold Posthmus, owner of the last shake mill in Whatcom County. C&H Cedar, Deming, Whatcom County; August 5, 1986.

Harold Posthmus, owner of the last shake mill in Whatcom County. C&H Cedar, Deming, Whatcom County; August 5, 1986.

SEFS Students Lead Doris Duke Scholars into the Field

This summer, a cohort of undergraduates from around the country spent two months at the University of Washington working on various research projects as part of the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program, an experiential learning program that aims to build more diversity and inclusion in the conservation community.

As part of the two-year program, Doris Duke Scholars spend their second summer working as interns with UW graduate students, and this year two SEFS doctoral students—Caitlin Littlefield and Clint Robins—served as mentors for five interns. They guided their students through eight weeks of rigorous hands-on field research, and then, on Wednesday, August 10, those interns joined others from their cohort and presented posters of their research at a culminating summit in the Fishery Sciences Building.

SEFS alumnus Brian Kertson (’01, B.S.; ’05, M.S.; ’10, Ph.D.), left, helped guide the project along with Niki, Clint and Kyle.

SEFS alumnus Brian Kertson (’01, B.S.; ’05, M.S.; ’10, Ph.D.), left, helped guide the project along with Niki, Clint and Kyle.

Caitlin mentored three interns—Alicia Juang from Harvard, Savannah Steinly from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Ethan Bott from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point—and she led them to the Methow Valley to study how terrain-driven climate variability influences patterns of forest recovery. Focusing on the 2006 Tripod fire, which burned more than 70,000 hectares north of Winthrop, Wash., their crew measured thousands of juvenile conifers, deployed temperature and relative humidity data loggers, and ate plenty of ice cream. The interns each carved out an independent research project, which they showcased at the final summit: Alicia assessed how erosion potential influences conifer recovery; Savannah processed dozens of soil samples to characterize how soil properties vary across the study area; and Ethan assessed how well indices derived from remotely sensed imagery can predict conifer recovery.

Near Issaquah, Clint was working with two other Doris Duke Scholars, Niki Love from Cornell, and Kyle Mabie from Colorado State. They spent their summer studying cougar (Puma concolor) foraging behavior under the auspices of the West Cascades Cougar Project. Niki’s project focused on edge effects, and the degree to which habitat transitions were correlated with successful cougar kills. Kyle compared kill site habitats between individual cougars to determine whether different cougars use different forest types when hunting prey. Due to the nature of data collection for their projects, as well, both interns were consistently able to work together in the field.

It’s great to see our students so involved in the Doris Duke program, helping train future scientists and expanding the voices and perspectives in the conservation movement!

Photo of Clint with interns © SEFS; photo of Caitlin in the field © Caitlin Littlefield.

Caitlin, left, with her interns Alicia, Ethan and Savannah.

Caitlin, left, with her interns Alicia, Ethan and Savannah.

 

Migrations in Motion: An Animated Map of Climate-Driven Species Movement

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) recently developed an incredibly cool animated map that depicts how more than 2,900 species of birds, mammals and amphibians might migrate in response to rising sea levels and temperatures. The flow model, called Migrations in Motion, draws from research published in Ecology Letters in 2013, “Projected climate-driven faunal movement routes,” which Professor Josh Lawler coauthored with Professor Julian Olden from the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, former SEFS grad student Aaron Ruesch (’11, M.S.), and Brad McRae, a senior landscape ecologist with TNC.

The map drew some immediate press coverage, including in Wired, which rightly calls the animation “mesmerizing, if unsettling” in its story, “Here’s Where Species Will Flee Because of Global Warming.”

Unlike the idle screengrab below, the actual map pulses with color and activity. Take a look!

Image of Migrations in Motion © The Nature Conservancy.

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