Working with the Nature Conservancy, I am developing a statistical ecological indicator model that will evaluate the ecological condition of managed northern hardwood forests through the use of observed bird assemblages. Ultimately, this model will provide ecologists, conservationists, and timber managers with a tool that will assist in monitoring and managing these forests in an ecologically sustainable manner. Recently, I have also performed bird surveys for the Nicolet National Forest Bird Survey and the UWGB natural area, Point au Sable.
Joshua A. Martinez
My thesis examines the potential use of inter-specific facilitation to restore native woodland herbaceous communities in urban preserves facing strong biotic resistance. I am examining the potential use of a native woodland grass (Elymus virginicus) to facilitate the establishment of palatable native woodland species. This experiment is established within a Northeastern Wisconsin urban preserve that carries high whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus) densities and extensive invasion by the exotic biennial herb, garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata). I am quantifying local whitetail activity using fecal group counts. Facilitation experiments are established in 6 replicated blocks, with E. virginicus planted at three different densities. Deer exclosures prevent browsing in half of all treatments plots within each block, with seedlings from the palatable-forb target species planted at a constant density within each facilitation plot. I am also examining the differential effects of Elymus virginicus density on the survivorship of a suite of seeded native species and the natural establishment of non-seeded species and garlic mustard.
My background consists of teaching economics and I did not have a strong background in environmental studies when I started graduate school. Since the start of the Environmental Science and Policy program, I have grown immensely in my environmental knowledge and I am currently working on my thesis. My research involves comparing cap-and-trade with pollution tax to determine which of the two policies would be better for implementation, for all players involved.
Adam von Haden
My thesis examines Carbon sequestration potential in upland and lowland row crop and restored tall grass prairie ecosystems. Biofuels are likely to play a significant role in the impending shift from fossil fuel to renewable energy sources. Conversion of marginal agricultural lands to biofuel grasslands may provide additional ecological services such as erosion control, nutrient retention, and carbon sequestration. I am comparing aboveground biomass yields, soil carbon, and fine-root production between upland and lowland areas in crop fields and restored prairies to identify marginal cropland and quantify nutrient retention and carbon sequestration potential. Within the restored prairies, I am examining fine-root production and decomposition along a soil moisture gradient using root ingrowth and intact core methods, respectively. The results of the study will provide important data for future local carbon mitigation policy and will illustrate the dynamics between soil moisture and net carbon flux in tall grass prairie soils.
Mandy K. Peter
My thesis examines the effects of garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) invasion, control, and native plant restoration on the ecosystem services of a Northeast Wisconsin forest herbaceous layer with focus on the soil invertebrate community. Invasive plants significantly impact the ecosystems in which they invade by altering plant production and elemental cycling, native plant abundance and diversity, and ecosystem food web structure. All of these changes have direct or indirect implications for the ecosystem services benefiting human society. Among these, invertebrate communities appear particularly sensitive to exotic plant invasion, with documented decreases to arthropod biomass and diversity following invasion. A. petiolata is known to significantly alter mycorrhizal abundance, and its biennial life-cycle likely alters patterns on belowground production, relative to perennial native species. I will utilize a four-year old experiment manipulating A. petiolata presence, native plant restoration, and access by white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) to evaluate the effects of altered plant community composition and A. petiolata abundance on the less mobile, and experimentally more amenable soil arthropod community. My research will improve our understanding of the ways by which A. petiolata invasion, A. petiolata management, and native plant restoration alter the ecosystem services provided by the forest herbaceous layer.