This opinion piece is a timely and critical perspective on the role of museums in preserving their specimens in the multi-omics era. Here, LaShanda and the other authors provide new guidelines currently implemented at the Smithsonian to protect the rich biomolecular resources maintained in museum collections worldwide. Read more here.
It all started with a happy accident. When cleaning out a basement lab at Hutcheson Memorial Forest (HMF), the Lockwood Lab discovered several boxes of old bird banding records. These records provided an in depth look at what birds were present in the forest during the 1960s and 1970s.
With this information in hand, the Lockwood Lab re-established the bird banding efforts to investigate how the modern bird community compared with the historic records. Starting in 2009, members of the Lockwood Lab spent their summer weekends inside Hutcheson Memorial Forest setting out mist nets to capture and band birds. This banding effort continued until 2015 at which point Jeff Brown begun comparing the bird communities from the two time periods.
Analysis confirmed what many visitors to the forest anecdotally knew. Birds were missing. Many species that were once common such as ovenbirds (Seiurus aurocapilla) and american redstarts (Setophaga ruticlla) were no longer present. However, other species such as the common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) have hairy woodpeckers (Leuconotopicus villosus) are more common than they previously were. To better understand why species were disappearing, Brown and his collaborators looked to the life history of the species within the forest as well as how the forest itself has changed.
Many of the species that are no longer present at HMF are migratory and ground nesting species. It is unsurprising migratory species are having a more difficult time establishing in HMF. Regional trends show HMF has become increasingly isolated as the surrounding areas have become more developed. Additionally, within HMF the understory has been taken over by non-native species such as Japanese stilt grass (Microstegium vimineum). The invasion of non-native plant species combined with increased herbivory from white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) create an understory that is inhospitable to many ground nesting species. For a complete version of this story please see the journal article in Biodiversity and Conservation
Despite this bleak news, there is hope for the future of HMF. The current state of the forest is largely due to a hands-off management approach that was taken over the last few decades. However, current HMF managers have implemented a more proactive approach by installing a deer fence around the forest. While it is still early in this management process, native plants have started to return, and the first record of an ovenbird was observed in June of 2018.
Here are some of the highlights in these lovely papers:
Divergence in Alewife Alosa pseudoharengus (Actinopterygii, Clupeidae), life history alters parasite communities:
The article is open-access which mean that it’s free and available to anyone interested in learning best practices for culturing this native and delicious bivalve species!
Some highlights from the paper include:
"1. Juvenile surfclam survival and growth were optimized at 20C.
2. Colder water increases survival but slows growth; warmer water causes mortality.
3. Variation across clam cohorts suggests parentage influences temperature tolerance.
4. Commercial surfclam seed production is readable in the Northeast US."
The full paper can be found at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352513418301078
Show your support for the Rutgers University EcoGSA by pre-ordering one of our new T-shirts! The colors will come in black, red, navy and forest green, and the lettering will be in white. We can order any size (including youth) as long as it's part of this pre-order. Final cost will depend on how many shirts are ordered, but we will try to keep the cost between $12 and $20.
Head to this link to see the design and place your order.
Congratulations to Rutgers E&E doctoral student Johnny Quispe on being named a 2018 Katherine S. McCarter Graduate Student Policy Award winner! The award comes from the Ecological Society of America. As part of being named a 2018 recipient Jonny will travel to Washington D.C. and learn about obtaining federal funding in science, meet with legislators, will discuss environmental policy with legislators on behalf of science researchers! Johnny's research focuses on sea level rise and how it may impact coastal communities and wetlands. Congrats Johnny!
Join us to congratulate Rutgers LA and Ecology and Evolution Graduate Professor JeanMarie Hartman and her Lab: Both of her Ph.D. students – Kate Douthat and Johnny Quispe - received highly competitive scholarships.
Kate’s comes from the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and names her a Botany In Action Fellow. Kate’s project is titled “The Plant Communities of Stormwater Detention Basins in New Jersey: Types, Landscapes, and Local Drivers”
Johnny’s comes from the Garden Club of America and Center for Coastal Resources Management, Virginia Institute of Marine Science. He has been awarded the 2018 GCA Award in Coastal Wetlands Studies. Johnny’s project is titled “ Submergence or Survival? The Role ofPhragmites australis and Spartina alterniflora in the Survival of Tidal Marshes”
Awesome work you two!!
Head over to the Washington Post to catch up on Jennifer Blake-Mahmud's latest research! The paper, originally published in the journal Trees: Structure and Function, explores trees that change sex expression over the course of their lives.
Congrats to Alexandrea Safiq, PhD candidate in Rutgers E&E! Alex's new article in Scientific American discusses the federal proposal to eliminate the Marine Mammal Commission.
Read the full article here: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/zero-dollars-for-marine-mammals/
The Ecology and Evolution Graduate Student Association is accepting donations of used books for our Book Sale fundraiser which is held annually at Ag Field Day/Rutgers Day on Cook Campus! The funds raised are used to support graduate student research awards, activities, science outreach, and professional development with our department.
We accept books year-round in any condition and amount (especially children's books!) but are not in need of magazines, journals, or VHS tapes.
UPDATED FOR THIS YEAR: We have changed the drop-off location! Please drop off your books at the Plant Physiology Building, Cook Campus, located on College Farm Road near Foran Hall and Lipman Hall. The main door of Plant Phys is open 9-5, M-F. Please leave the books on the first floor in the room just to the right of the front door.
See the attached map for location of the building (outlined in blue), the nearest potential parking spots (red dashed line; beware! some spots are for visitors with day-passes, others are just for Faculty/Staff), and the path to the front door from those spots (black dashed line and arrow).
Please contact Lauren Frazee directly at lauren.frazee at rutgers.edu if you have any questions or concerns.
Thank you again for your support,
We seek to further the social, cultural, academic and research interests of the students in the graduate program in Ecology and Evolution and act as an link between the graduate students and the faculty.