ESRM Seminar Series: Winter 2017 Schedule!

The SEFS Seminar Series will be on hiatus this quarter (returning in the spring), but we still have two other terrific series to keep you thoroughly engaged through our darkest months: the Wildlife Science Seminar and the ESRM 429 Seminar.

The latter is our subject today, and SEFS doctoral student Si Gao is running the show this quarter. She’s put together a terrific line-up of speakers around the theme of “Ecosystem Services,” and talk topics will range from deep soil carbon to plant remediation and oceanography.

The talks are held on Tuesdays from 8:30 to 9:20 a.m. in Anderson 223. They are always open to the public, and we encourage you to mark your calendars and join us for as many as you can!

2016_12_sefs-senior-seminar_winter-2017Week 1: January 3
“Diversity of ecosystem services: examples from plant community ecology”
Dr. Claire Wainwright, SEFS Research Associate

Week 2: January 10
Topic: Fire management in the Pacific Northwest
Professor Ernesto Alvarado, SEFS

Week 3: January 17
Topic: Life -cycle assessment of wood products
Dr. Francesca Pierobon, SEFS Research Associate, CINTRAFOR

Week 4: January 24
Topic: Social ecology
Professor Steve Harrell, SEFS and Department of Anthropology

Week 5: January 31
Topic: Disturbance ecology and entomology
Professor Patrick Tobin, SEFS

Week 6: February 7
Topic: Deep soil carbon
Cole Gross, SEFS graduate student

Week 7: February 14
Topic: Biological oceanography
Bryndan Durham & Ryan Groussman, School of Oceanography

Week 8: February 21
Topic: Biofuel and Bioenergy
Chang Dou, SEFS doctoral candidate

Week 9: February 28
Topic: Plant remediation
Robert Tournay, SEFS doctoral student

Week 10: March 7
Topic: Atmospheric reactive N cycling
Professor Joel Thornton, UW Department of Atmospheric Sciences

SEFS Researchers Partner with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and four researchers from SEFS—including Professors Josh Lawler (PI) and Aaron Wirsing, Affiliate Professor Peter Dunwiddie and postdoc Michael Case—have teamed up on a new research project, “Evaluating Flora and Fauna Diversity in the John Day/Willow Creek Project for Special Status Species Protection.”

2016_12_army-corps-of-engineersWith $284,968 in funding, the project in northwest Oregon aims to:

1)   Inventory and identify terrestrial animal and plant species and their habitats. This comprehensive inventory will include native and non-native and invasive, threatened and endangered, noxious and nuisance plants and wildlife on 13,600 acres of project lands;
2)   Delineate and identify dominant ecological communities, including abiotic components;
3)   Assess the status, health and viability of resident wildlife and plant populations and their habitats, including special status species, as well as biological diversity and environmental health of ecological communities;
4)   Provide qualitative and quantitative information about the identity, location and abundance of state and federal classified invasive and noxious species within dominant ecological communities;
5)   Develop an integrated pest management plan.

The relevant data will be entered into a GIS database and generate a series of maps to show a detailed, scaled overview of ecological communities, species habitats, and general habitat conditions.

Funding for the project is made available through a cooperative agreement (W912HZ-16-2-0031) under the Pacific Northwest Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (PNW CESU), a partnership for research, technical assistance and education to enhance understanding and management of natural and cultural resources.

Next Week (12/21): Solstice Garden Gathering at UW Botanic Gardens

This coming Wednesday, December 21, from 4 to 6 p.m., you are all invited to the Soest Garden at the Center for Urban Horticulture for a quiet gathering to celebrate community and embrace the peace of a night garden. We encourage community members to bring an electric candle or lantern to help light up the night, and also to bring friends or family members to enjoy the gardens at dusk.

There will not be a formal program; instead visitors will be welcome to share poems or reflections with those who are gathered. Warm beverages will be provided.


Director’s Message: Winter 2017

The hardest professional decision I’ve ever faced came last spring when I accepted an offer to take over as dean of the College of Forestry and Conservation at the University of Montana. I struggled enormously with knowing how much I loved my job here, yet also feeling an irresistible pull to return to the University of Montana—to be closer to family, closer to where I started my career, and closer to the mountains I learned to call home. I still feel, without contradiction or cliché, the tremendous fortune of moving from one dream job to another, and as I look back on my four years here, I can hardly process all of the incredible experiences with students, faculty, staff and friends. As I prepare to leave next week, I’ve tried to pinpoint a few poignant memories, and I’ve realized how many of them involve field trips—precisely the hands-on experiences that make this school and our programs so special.

Three trips in particular stand out in my mind. They capture what I’ve enjoyed so much about my time at SEFS, and also what I hope to accomplish at Montana.

2016_12_tomdeluca_winter-2017During my second year here, I asked Professor Susan Bolton to take over as the sole instructor for ESRM 201 (our intro ecosystems course), and in return I offered to help with the soils sections and the weekend field trip.  For that excursion, we headed out over Snoqualmie Pass in a caravan of six Suburbans, stopping at several locations along the way to highlight the diversity, sensitivity and complexity of everything from wet coniferous forests to desert. The students were responsive and engaged, and I’ll never forget the power of the natural laboratory we have here in the Pacific Northwest. It gives our students a nearly infinite range of ecosystems to study and explore, as well as the practical experiences—and inspiration—to continue on in their research and careers. I also never forgot that we had grad students and even undergrads drive some of the vehicles, which sparked my crusade to find a safer, more effective and sustainable way to get our students to the field. (The result, of course, was a small fleet of 30-passenger buses, each with a huge ‘W’ on the back and driven by professional drivers!).

The next year, in the autumn of 2014, I got to participate in a Yakama field course with Professor Emeritus Tom Hinckley and Professor Ernesto Alvarado. During this trip, we visited the Yakama Nation and were generously hosted by our friends and alumni on the reservation, including brothers Phil and Steve Rigdon. It was an amazing experience. The students explored some of the knowledge and traditions of Yakama tribal members, and they got a sense of their deep commitment to sustainable resource management—built on a combination of practical savvy, traditional knowledge and cultural devotion. I was struck by the close relationships between our faculty and tribal members, and the depth of knowledge, willingness to share, and the importance of such exposure to our students. I hope to create similar relationships with the many tribes that populate the inland Northwest, and to provide similar opportunities for students at UM.

Then, in 2015 I spent a day touring forest management sites at Pack Forest and with our friends at Port Blakely tree farms. At Pack, we focused on some of the alternative silvicultural practices that Professor Greg Ettl and his students were studying. We also spent time talking with John Hayes about the Mount Rainier Institute, and the crucial work they are doing to cultivate a love of science and the natural world in underrepresented middle school students across Washington. Court Stanley and his colleagues at Port Blakely proudly explained some of the innovative work they were doing on their lands, and the importance of planning 100 years ahead for when their kids’ kids might benefit from the efforts they implemented today. The goal of the trip had simply been to update one another and share ongoing efforts in sustainable forest management, yet I was again overwhelmed by the positive and supportive relationships between our faculty and our partners in industry. I left that day with a profound sense of optimism and pride in the work we were doing, and in our role training the next generation of environmental leaders and stewards. That feeling has thoroughly defined my time at SEFS.

So it’s been hard to take full stock of what I’m leaving behind, and I know many of my experiences at SEFS will continue to shape and influence me for the rest of my life. I’ve been hugely proud to be part of this school, from the Arboretum and Center for Urban Horticulture, to Pack Forest and the Olympic Natural Resources Center, to all of our wonderful students, alumni, staff and faculty, and everyone I’ve had the the privilege of meeting and working with since I arrived. To all of you, please know I’ll never forget my time in Washington, and that you will always have a friend in Montana.

Tom DeLuca
School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

This Week: Four Faculty Candidate Seminars!

This week, you are invited to join us for four seminars featuring faculty candidates for a position as unit leader of the Washington Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. Depending on the selected candidate, the position will be based either at SEFS or at the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences.

All seminars will run from 4 to 5 p.m., and please pay attention to room locations below, as they vary with each speaker. We hope you can come out to hear from and meet these candidates!

1. Tuesday, December 13, 4 to 5 p.m., FSH 203
Dr. Michelle McCLure
Division Director, NOAA Fisheries

“Science for Salmon Recovery: Building Foundations for Agency Action”
Twenty‐six Evolutionarily Significant Units in five west coast anadromous salmonid species were listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1999. Since that time, a wide range of scientific work to support the recovery of these ESUs has been conducted. I describe how we developed biological recovery goals for Interior Columbia species, as well as population modeling evaluating the impact of anthropogenic actions and environmental conditions on these species. Reintroductions and climate change will almost certainly factor into the long-term recovery of these and other species; I also provide an overview of guidance we developed to inform management and science efforts in both of these areas.

Michelle is currently the division director of the Fishery Resource Analysis and Monitoring Division at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NOAA Fisheries). In this capacity, in addition to sending lots of email, she oversees much of the scientific work that informs harvest management for the West Coast Groundfish fishery. Prior to this position, she worked for 13 years on salmon conservation efforts, including co-chairing the Interior Columbia Technical Recovery Team. Michelle received her Ph.D. from Cornell University, and her undergraduate degree from The Evergreen State College.

2. Wednesday, December 14, 4 to 5 p.m., AND 207 (Forest Club Room)
Dr. Dan Esler
USGS Alaska Science Center

“Conservation Research on Migratory Birds Throughout the Annual Cycle”
Migratory birds are challenging to manage, given their use of spatially discrete and ecologically variable habitats at different annual cycle stages. Identifying when and where constraints on populations are manifested can be very difficult under these circumstances. In this seminar, I lay out some of the challenges inherent in research and management of migratory animals, including (1) delineation of meaningful population units, (2) identification of demographic bottlenecks, and (3) determination of drivers of variation in demographic attributes, including cross-seasonal effects that originate in one annual cycle stage but are expressed in another. I give examples of how my research has addressed these challenges with conservation issues ranging from specific, local habitat alterations to continental-scale concerns about population status.

Dan is a research wildlife biologist with the Alaska Science Center of USGS, where he leads the Nearshore Marine Ecosystem Research Program. Prior to that, he was with the Centre for wildlife Ecology at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, where he directed an applied research program addressing sea ducks and other aquatic birds and their prey. Dan’s research utilizes a broad range of approaches and disciplines, with the overarching goal of providing research that is relevant for informed conservation of wildlife populations, habitats, and ecosystems.

3. Thursday, December 15, 4 to 5 p.m. FSH 203
Dr. Julien Martin
Wetland and Aquatic Research Center, U.S. Geological Survey

“Ecological Modeling for Decision Making”
Julien will discuss the role of ecological modeling for making decisions about natural resource management. First, I will describe the role of traditional approaches for conservation, such as population viability analyses, threat analyses and trend detection. Then I will present a more structured approach to decision making. I will consider the example of optimal design of protection zones for marine mammals. I will follow up with the application of an adaptive resource management framework for dealing with sequential decisions and model uncertainty. I will also contrast the role of surveillance and targeted monitoring programs in the context of conservation and management.

Julien is a research wildlife biologist at the US Geological Survey’s Wetland and Aquatic Research Center. He obtained a B.S. in ecology from the University of Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris, France), a M.S. in analysis and modeling of biological systems from the University of Lyon (France), and a Ph.D. in the department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida. As a research graduate assistant at the Florida Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit he was in charge of the Snail Kite monitoring program. He worked as postdoctoral researcher at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research center on statistical modeling and decision analysis. Before joining the USGS, he worked for 5 years as the lead research scientist in the marine mammal program of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation commission (the Florida state wildlife agency). He is a courtesy faculty member in: (1) the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida; and (2) the College of Marine Science at the University of South Florida. His expertise includes: wildlife ecology, estimation of demographic parameters, population dynamics, ecological forecasting and the application of decision theory to natural resource management.

4. Friday, December 16, 4 to 5 p.m., AND 207 (Forest Club Room)
Dr. Sarah Converse
USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

“The Interaction of Demographic Estimation, Modeling and Decision Analysis in Threatened Species Management”
Managers of threatened species are interested in identifying strategies to reduce the risk of extinction and to increase the ecological and socio-cultural benefits of these species. To identify optimal management strategies, we must predict how populations will respond to management. To do that, quantitative ecologists work with managers and species experts on two interrelated processes: estimating demographic parameters and relationships from existing data, and using this information to build population models. These two processes alone, however, will rarely be adequate to identify optimal management actions. When using information to make decisions, threatened species managers are often confronted with at least two additional complications: dealing with uncertainty, and negotiating tradeoffs between competing objectives. Therefore, the philosophy and tools of decision analysis are critical to the process of identifying optimal management strategies. Through a series of examples across a variety of threatened  taxa – including polar bears, boreal toads, and whooping cranes – the interrelationships between, and the methods for, demographic estimation, population  modeling, and decision analysis will be illustrated.

Sarah is a research ecologist in the Quantitative Methods Research Group at USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, where she has worked since 2007. Previously, she worked as a post-doctoral research associate in the Colorado Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, after receiving her Ph.D. from Colorado State University in 2005. Her research program is built around two themes: quantitative population ecology of endangered species, and decision analysis applications in endangered species management. Her work spans taxonomic boundaries, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and insects. She has published more than 50 research articles and book chapters. She regularly assists US Fish and Wildlife Service and state wildlife management agencies in the identification of management strategies for threatened species.

Next Thursday (12/8): IFSA to Host Forestry Panel

On Thursday, December 8, at 5 p.m. in the Forest Club Room, the UW local committee of the International Forestry Students’ Association (IFSA) is hosting a panel, “On the Comparison of American and European Forestry Methods.”

Featuring two SEFS undergrads who recently traveled to a forestry conference in Austria, as well as Professors Greg Ettl and Aaron Wirsing, the panel will explore aspects of forest management that lead to success across nations. The event is free and open to the public, and there will be a light reception afterward.

Visit the IFSA Facebook page or email for more information. Check it out!