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Last update: 7/7/08

[University of Wisconsin-Green Bay News Release]

For Immediate Release:

July 7, 2008

Grants help UW-Green Bay students study Northeastern Wisconsin natural areas

GREEN BAY - Four University of Wisconsin-Green Bay students will receive grants from the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity to support research projects — from earthworms to owls — on UW-Green Bay’s managed natural areas.

This year’s grant recipients include undergraduates Meagan Davis, sophomore, Green Bay; Matthew Flentje, senior, Manitowoc; Ethan Kaiser, senior, Boyceville, Wis.; and graduate student Linda Filo, Green Bay.

The students will conduct field projects in collaboration with a UW-Green Bay faculty member and will present their results at an annual research symposium.

The grants are competitive and must contribute to improving the understanding of ecology on one or more of the five UW-Green Bay natural areas including: the Cofrin Memorial Arboretum on the UW-Green Bay campus; Point au Sauble, located just north of campus on the bay of Green Bay; Peninsula Center and Toft Point, in Door County; and Kingfisher Farm, in Manitowoc County. These grants are made possible by an endowment from the family of Green Bay natives and philanthropists David Cofrin and the late John Cofrin. Since 1989, the grants have supported more than 80 graduate and undergraduate researchers at UW-Green Bay.

Davis, an Environmental Science major, will conduct research started by her parents more than a decade ago. Her research on cliff swallows in the Cofrin Memorial Arboretum will help identify critical feeding areas and sources of nest-building materials. It will also describe important interactions between the campus cliff swallow population and other species, including humans. Research on the University’s cliff swallow colony was started in 1997 by her parents, UW-Green Bay Prof. Gregory Davis and UW-Green Bay research associate Jennifer Davis.

Flentje will conduct surveys of owls at all five natural areas managed by the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity. Because owls are difficult to observe, Flentje will play recordings of owl calls and listen for responses to the calls by resident owls, providing information about owl activity and biodiversity on UW-Green Bay’s natural areas. Flentje is pursuing majors in biology and Environmental Science.

Kaiser will get his hands dirty by measuring the differences in earthworm abundance in burned vs. unburned grasslands in the UW-Green Bay Cofrin Memorial Arboretum. Earthworms are not native to northeastern Wisconsin and recent studies have shown that areas with the greatest earthworm diversity have relatively low diversity of native plants. Kaiser will collect earthworms in burned and unburned areas of the Keith White Prairie in order to investigate the impacts of earthworms on native prairie plants. Kaiser is seeking a degree in Environmental Policy and Planning.

Filo will investigate the ecological effects of timing of removal treatments of the invasive plant Phragmites australis (the common reed) at Point au Sauble Nature Preserve in Brown County. Understanding the importance of timing of treatments of this ecologically and economically important invasive plant may lead to more cost-effective methods and, more importantly, might provide meaningful insights into the causes and consequences of the how the plant invades new habitat. Filo is a graduate student in Environmental Science and Policy.

For more information visit or contact Prof. Vicki Medland at or by phone at (920) 465-2342.

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The primary purpose of the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity is to promote education, research, and community services that contribute to conservation of the western Great Lakes fauna and flora. The Center for Biodiversity enhances educational programs at UW-Green Bay by providing hands-on resources for undergraduate and graduate courses, by establishing student internship opportunities, and by attracting visiting scientists and speakers. Research at UW-Green Bay is promoted by a student grants program and by quality research facilities and staff support. The Center aims to become a regional clearinghouse of information resources for professional biologists, naturalists, educators, and local private enterprises. Collectively, these activities contribute to quality of life in the western Great Lakes region and help strengthen the connection between UW-Green Bay and the people of this area.

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08-162 | Contact: Mike Heine, (920) 465-2526

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