Seminars & Discussions

Academic Year 2020-2021

Modeling groundwater in the High Plains (Ogallala) Aquifer: Past, present, and future

Main Speaker: Erin Haacker

Assistant Professor, UNL | Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Date: 8/26/2020
Time: 3:30 PM
Location: Zoom Webinar

Erin Haacker
Dr. Erin Haacker

Abstract

Scientists rely more and more on models to answer questions about natural resources, but how are these models made, and how are they related to data, let alone reality? This talk will cover some of the advances in computational methods for groundwater research, and give an overview of the trajectory of the High Plains (Ogallala) Aquifer, the largest freshwater aquifer in North America.

Speaker's Bio

As a doctoral student, Haacker participated in a large, interdisciplinary collaboration studying the High Plains Aquifer in Texas. She used models linking groundwater, surface-water, economics, atmosphere and other factors. Haacker combines the modeling of groundwater and surface-water interactions with statistical data analysis. Her skills include integrating tools such as GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and Python, a cross-platform, open-source programming language, to improve models. She is interested in groundwater management, especially in terms of profit and risk. Haacker likes to ask thought-provoking questions such as how people adapt to natural resources and how that can be represented in physical and statistical models.

A Nebraska native, Haacker was raised in Washington State and moved to Montana. In early 2019, Haacker accepted a faculty position in UNL’s Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, where she plans to capitalize on the skills and knowledge she gained at NWC.

Speaker's Contact Information

phone icon402-472-2626

mail iconehaacker2@unl.edu

Digging deeper: persistence and climate sensitivity of deep soil organic matter.

Main Speaker: Asmeret Asefaw Berhe

Professor, Univeristy of California-Merced | Department of Life and Environmental Sciences

Date: 9/9/2020
Time: 3:30 PM
Location: Zoom Webinar

Asmeret Asefaw Berhe
Dr. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe

Abstract

Deep soil layers (below 30cm or A-horizon) account for up to 70% of the carbon (C) stored in soils. Decomposition of deep soil organic matter (SOM) contributes to surface carbon dioxide efflux, and is controlled by climate, soil physico-chemical properties, and geomorphology of the landscapes and associated hydrology. This presentation will include synthesis of our past and ongoing projects on deep SOM dynamics, including SOM in weathered bedrock and how climate regulates SOM storage, chemical composition, persistence, and stabilization mechanisms using results from the NSF funded Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory, and agricultural systems in California. Our work contributes to improve our understanding of mechanisms that control deep SOM persistence and ability to predict the vulnerability of soil carbon to climate change.

Speaker's Bio

Asmeret Asefaw Berhe is a Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry at the Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of California, Merced. Asmeret does research in Soil Science, Biogeochemistry, Global Change Science, and Political Ecology. Currently Asmeret and her research team are studying the role of erosion in biogeochemical cycling of essential elements; effect of fire on soil organic matter transport and overall dynamics; deep soil organic matter dynamics; and coupled hydrologic and biogeochemical responses to climate change.

Speaker's Contact Information

mail iconaaberhe@ucmerced.edu

Video

Black Environmentalists Matter: Culturally Relevant Approaches to Environmental Programming and Curricula

Main Speaker: Tatiana Height

Program Director, Partners for Environmental Justice and
Doctoral Candidate, Agricultural and Extension Education, North Carolina State University

Date: 9/16/2020
Time: 3:30 PM
Location: Zoom Webinar

Tatiana Height
Tatiana Height

Abstract

For many years, scholars have commented on the whiteness of the environmental education sphere and the natural resources profession more broadly. However, many approaches to address this have focused on program availability more than cultural relevance. This talk will cover the ways in which this problem has surfaced in recent years and approaches that can be taken to address it.

Speaker's Bio

Tatiana Height is a Chicago native and two-time Cornhusker alumna. Tatiana received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Great Plains Studies with minors in Environmental Studies, Community and Regional Planning, and Agribusiness Entrepreneurship. As an undergraduate student, Tatiana was a member of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program for 4 years. Tatiana later returned to pursue a Master of Community and Regional Planning degree focusing on community engagement and environmental justice (EJ). At the doctoral level, Tatiana has continued this work and more, at NC State University. Tatiana has also been an Integrated Water Management Planner for the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, a Community Development Planner for the City of Kinston, NC, and currently serves as the Program Director of Partners for Environmental Justice. Beyond this, Tatiana has several years of experience as an environmental educator and launched Height Environmental Justice & Planning in 2018 to provide public speaking, EJ, environmental education, and planning services to interested audiences.

Speaker's Contact Information

mail icontcheight@ncsu.edu

Video

Great White Sharks - ocean tracking technologies reveal deep mysteries about one of earth’s most ancient and successful predators.

Main Speaker: Sal Jorgensen

Marine Ecologist, Research Associate, University of California - Santa Cruz

Date: 9/23/2020
Time: 3:30 PM
Location: Zoom Webinar

Sal Jorgensen
Dr. Sal Jorgensen

Abstract

As members of one of the most ancient vertebrate lineages, sharks have roamed the oceans for some 500 Million years persisting through multiple global mass extinction events. Great white sharks, one of the largest predatory shark species, are vast ocean travelers and can be found worldwide. Yet the western coast of North America is home to a unique and genetically isolated population of these feared and often misunderstood predators. Today, these ancient creatures concentrate around key areas at the doorstep of California’s most populated metropolitan areas. What they do, below the surface of the opaque waters has been seldom observed, and has largely remained a mystery. This void of knowledge is often colored by our primal fears, and the enduring narrative of Jaws. In this seminar we will look at some of the discoveries and myths dispelled about great white sharks that have resulted from over a decade and half of research and exploration.

Speaker's Bio

Dr. Salvador Jorgensen is a marine ecologist and former Senior Research Scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and recently joined UC Santa Cruz as a Research Associate. Jorgensen’s research focuses on the ecology, migration and population dynamics of pelagic fishes and elasmobranchs. He has conducted research in a range of systems from kelp forests, to seamounts, to the open ocean. Jorgensen holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Sonoma State University and a Ph.D. in Ecology from U.C. Davis where he worked on the design of California’s Marine Protected Areas with the Science Advisory Team under the California Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). During his Ph.D., Jorgensen was also a Fulbright Scholar in Baja California, Mexico, where he studied the ecological processes of fish species assembly around shallow seamounts, and the use of deep hypoxic habitat by hammerhead sharks. Jorgensen completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University, where he first became a member of the Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP) program as lead researcher on white shark tagging and ecology. Over the past decade, Dr. Jorgensen has continued his work on white sharks and other shark and ray species around the world including South Africa and most recently the Galapagos Islands.

Social Science Perspectives on Ethno-racial Diversity in wildlife Viewing and Conservation

Main Speaker: Jonathan Rutter & Dr. Ashley Dayer

Date: 9/30/2020
Time: 3:30 PM
Location: Zoom Webinar

Jonathan Rutter & Dr. Ashley Dayer
Jonathan Rutter and Dr. Ashely Dayer

Abstract

At a time when ethno-racial justice has taken center stage in the national conversation, it is increasingly important to consider how themes of diversity, equity, and inclusion apply to wildlife recreation and conservation. In this seminar, we review the importance of ethno-racial diversity in these fields, and the barriers that exist to minorities' participation in outdoor recreation. We then discuss our own research into ethno-racial patterns in the recreation specialization of birdwatchers, based on a study of United States eBird registrants. Finally, we provide a short list of best practices for wildlife organizations, agencies, and academics as they seek to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion through their work.

Speaker's Bio

Jonathan Rutter
Human Dimensions Technician
Jonathan Rutter is a human dimensions research technician in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech. He joined the Dayer Lab in October 2018 to study ethno-racial diversity in birdwatching using a large, bi-national dataset. He additionally contributed to the Lab’s effort to produce a wildlife viewing plan for the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources. His current research focuses on predictors of the public’s engagement in wetland conservation in Missouri. Jonathan graduated from Yale University in 2018 with a B.S. in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, and he will pursue a Master's degree in Biodiversity, Conservation, and Management at the University of Oxford starting in September 2021.

Ashley Dayer
Assistant Professor, Virginia Tech | Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Dr. Ashley Dayer is also affiliated with the Global Change Center and Coastal@VT. She is the Past President of the Social Science Working Group of the Society for Conservation Biology, a global network of 2000 conservation social scientists. Her applied conservation research aims to understand what drives people’s natural resources-related behaviors and how they are influenced by programs and policies. She has extensive experience studying wildlife recreationists, in particular viewers. Her research is well-known for informing agencies’ and organizations’ policies and programs due to her investment in working closely with those who will be applying research. Dr. Dayer holds a Ph.D. in Natural Resources from Cornell University, a M.S. in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources from Colorado State University, and a B.A. in Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard University.

Speaker's Contact Information

phone icon(540) 231-8847

mail icondayer@vt.edu

Video

Prioritizing Private Lands to Optimize Biodiversity Conservation

Main Speaker: Andrew Little

Landscape and Habitat Management Ecologist, UNL | School of Natural Resources

Date: 10/7/2020
Time: 3:30 PM
Location: Zoom Webinar

Andrew Little
Dr. Andrew Little

Abstract

Agriculture intensification in the Midwest has resulted in the simplification of agricultural systems (e.g., corn and soybean rotation compared to multi-crop diversity, cover crops, and/or integrated crop-livestock systems), increased field sizes, and removal of non-crop habitat to maximize production. Despite increased farm productivity, rural and urban residents are becoming increasingly affected by multiple emerging and continuing challenges including environmental concerns (e.g., climate variability, soil erosion, water pollution, etc.), economic uncertainties, and declines in rural community vitality. These challenges for increased food production, environmental protection, and economic uncertainties require innovative solutions to achieve resilient agricultural systems. To address these challenges, new local (or field) scale, precision technologies and strategic conservation planning frameworks have been developed to offer opportunities for agricultural producers to maximize whole-field profitability by strategically identifying marginal (or low yielding) acres for cropland diversification, while simultaneously reducing negative environmental impacts. These new precision technologies and strategic conservation planning frameworks also offer natural resource agencies and organizations innovative ways to prioritize enrollment of private lands in conservation programs (e.g., State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement, Conservation Program 33-Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds) with the goal of increasing available wildlife habitat. Implementing these innovative precision technologies and strategic conservation planning frameworks throughout the Midwest will require a collaborative effort among farmers, farmland owners, industry, and local/state/federal/NGO partners to achieve resilient agricultural systems in the 21st century.

Speaker's Bio

Dr. Andrew Little is an Assistant Professor of Landscape and Habitat Management, and Extension Wildlife Specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). Dr. Little received his B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from The Pennsylvania State University, M.S. in Wildlife Ecology from Mississippi State University, and Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Georgia. He is a wildlife spatial ecologist focused on creating innovative solutions to the growing wildlife conservation and management needs in multi-functional landscapes where there are competing interests for agricultural production, wildlife conservation, and ecosystem services.

Speaker's Contact Information

phone icon402-219-1913

mail iconalittle6@unl.edu

Video

Reservoir Fisheries

Main Speaker: Cecil Jennings

Unit Leader and Adjunct Professor, University of Georgia | Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources | USGS Georgia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit

Date: 10/14/2020
Time: 3:30 PM
Location: Zoom Webinar

Cecil Jennings
Dr. Cecil Jennings

Abstract

As the earth’s climate warms, the persistence of trout in the cool-water regions of Georgia may be threatened. This study focused on how warming stream temperatures from May to September could affect both trout-based recreational opportunities and future suitable thermal habitat availability for trout within the state. We evaluated the potential effects of three hypothetical temperature increases (1°, 2°, and 2.6° Celsius) to predict how each would affect future trout habitat availability and recreational opportunities for trout in Georgia. The amount of stream miles with temperatures cool enough for trout to survive was then overlain with angler preference data to determine where habitat and loss of angling opportunities would be the greatest across northern Georgia. Our results predict that suitable cool water habitat will decline by 33-70% for brook trout and a 30- 68% for brown trout and rainbow trout. Such a decline would result in a loss of angling opportunities for anglers during the summer months. Such a decline in suitable cool water for all three species will be increasingly restricted to higher elevations during summer, where refuge from lethal temperatures is available. These results suggest shifting trout angling seasons to earlier in the year to avoid losing trout fish opportunities during the warmest months of the year.

Speaker's Bio

BA (’81) Biology/Natural Science/Conservation – Carthage Coll. (WI)

MS (’85) Fisheries and Wildlife Ecology – Miss State University

PhD (’90) University of Florida – Fisheries Science

Speaker's Contact Information

phone icon706-542-4837

mail iconjennings@warnell.uga.edu

Video

Assessing the Role of Trust and Values in Social Conflict Over Invasive Species Management: A Case Study on Guam

Main Speaker: Dara M. Wald

Assistant Professor of Environmental Communication, Iowa State University | Greenlee School of Journalism

Date: 10/21/2020
Time: 3:30 PM
Location: Zoom Webinar

Dara M. Wald
Dr. Dara M. Wald

Abstract

Within the past century, military action, development and the introduction of multiple invasive species have dramatically transformed the natural landscape and forests on the island of Guam. Changes to the forest, including the introduction of invasive species, have contributed to the dramatic loss of forest birds and the sterilization of palm trees, an iconic and culturally important species featured on the island’s flag. Invasive species management on Guam will require widespread public support. Thus, greater understanding of local attitudes, beliefs and values could identify policies with widespread public support and pathways for public engagement, outreach and communication. Yet to date, research has largely ignored the social and cultural aspects of invasion and environmental management on Guam. To address this gap, we explored residents’ perceptions of and support for species control and removal efforts, as well as their attitudes about changes in place, species and access to natural spaces due to the spread of invasive species. Drawing on results from small group interviews, our findings highlight the important role of trust and engagement for invasive species management and have important implications for global environmental change and conservation efforts on Guam and beyond.

Speaker's Bio

Dr. Dara Wald's research is in environmental communication, focusing on the causes and consequences of public debate over the management of natural resources. Dr. Wald's research has been published in leading journals in the field of sustainability and funded by the National Science Foundation, the Morris Animal Foundation and the USDA. One broad stream of her scholarship focuses on how contextual and psychological factors (e.g., emotions, values, risk perceptions, trust and power) drive policy resistance and socio-political conflict over environmental management. The second stream of Dr. Wald's work focuses on public engagement and communication to promote effective and sustainable decision making and collaborative governance over land, wildlife and water.

Speaker's Contact Information

mail icondwald@iastate.edu

Video

Ecotourism

Main Speaker: Robin Nunkoo

Associate Professor of Management, University of Mauritius

Date: 10/28/2020
Time: 3:30 PM
Location: Zoom Webinar

Robin Nunkoo
Dr. Robin Nunkoo

Abstract

Dr. Robin Nunkoo's seminar has been canceled. No other seminar will be substituted for this time slot.

Wealth, race, and wildlife: The impacts of structural inequality on urban wildlife

Main Speaker: Christopher Schell

Assistant Professor of Urban Ecology, University of Washington | Sciences and Mathematics Division

Date: 11/4/2020
Time: 3:30 PM
Location: Zoom Webinar

Christopher Schell
Dr. Christopher Schell

Abstract

Urban ecosystems are intrinsically heterogenous, characterized by dynamic biotic and abiotic interactions that are not witnessed in non-urban environments. Urban flora and fauna experience a suite of novel disturbances and stressors that have led to remarkable phenotypic strategies and adaptations to cope with urban living. Despite recent groundbreaking discoveries and innovation in the fields of urban ecology and evolution, the drivers of urban heterogeneity that induce biological change are seldom articulated. The spatiotemporal distributions of urban organisms are directly affected by the uneven distribution of resources (e.g., refugia, food, water) across cities, all of which are connected to societal function and governance. Hence, to build a comprehensive understanding of urban systems and wildlife adaptation, we must integrate and reconcile how structural inequality – especially racism and classism – shape urban environmental mosaics. In this seminar talk, Dr. Chris Schell will discuss how structural and systemic inequalities, especially economic and racial inequality, shape ecological and evolutionary outcomes of wildlife. In addition, he will discuss how certain species (e.g. coyotes and raccoons) may serve as ecosystem sentinels or bioindicators of environmental health and inequity. In doing so, we will discuss how leading with an environmental justice and activism framework in the natural sciences can promote conversation, sustainability, and resilience in a human-dominated world.

Speaker's Bio

Dr. Chris Schell is an urban ecologist whose research integrates evolutionary theory with ecological application to disentangle the processes accentuating human-carnivore conflict. Specifically, Chris’ interests lie in understanding the physiological mechanisms and anthropogenic drivers that bolster may contribute to fearless behavior in urban carnivores. His research is uniquely tied to the community: urban ecology is inherently a synergy of anthropogenic forces and natural processes. Hence, he often works closely with nondominant communities (e.g. ethnic and racial minorities), wildlife managers, cultural institutions, and philanthropic organizations to help foster mutually enriching relationships among people and wildlife. Concurrently, he strives to increase representation and affect positive change in STEM. Chris received his B.A. in Psychology from Columbia University (2009) and his masters and Ph.D in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Chicago (2015). Since joining the faculty in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington, Tacoma, Chris has launched the Grit City Carnivore Project, a research collaborative among the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Metro Parks Tacoma to uncovering the patterns and processes by which wildlife are adapting to cities. Together with his collaborators, Chris works to connect local and national communities with wildlife while simultaneously working to uncover the mechanisms that drive urban adaptation in wildlife.

Speaker's Contact Information

phone icon253-692-5838

mail iconcjschell@uw.edu

Video

Ecology and conservation of ungulate movement and migration

Main Speaker: Jerod Merkle

Assistant Professor, Knobloch Professor in Migration Ecology and Conservation, University of Wyoming | Department of Zoology and Physiology

Date: 11/11/2020
Time: 3:30 PM
Location: Zoom Webinar

Jerod Merkle
Dr. Jerod Merkle

Abstract

Our understanding of how wildlife move within their environment generally stems from ecological concepts and theory related to habitat. As a result, many studies assume that wildlife behavior can be explained and predicted through habitat characteristics such as elevation, temperature, land cover type, and/or plant biomass. Yet, wildlife behaviors such as site fidelity (i.e., returning to the same location over and over again) are not well explained by habitat characteristics alone. There is mounting evidence that wildlife have strong memory capabilities and use their memorized information to guide how they move through their landscape and choose where to spend time. In this talk, I draw upon my research, in collaboration with colleagues and students, to assess the relative role of habitat versus memory in determining wildlife movement and migration. By monitoring individual animals for multiple years of their life and analyzing how they behave relative to their previous experience, our research clearly shows that habitat characteristics alone cannot explain wildlife use of the landscape. Without understanding an animal’s past experience and how they use that information to make future decisions, our ability to understand and predict animal behavior is limited. I then assess how an animal’s memory plays a strong role in how they respond to anthropogenic change such as energy development. Memory plays a pervasive role in wildlife behavior, and studying how animals use their memory, and its consequences, will shape our understanding of wildlife ecology into the future.

Speaker's Bio

Jerod is an Assistant Professor and the Knobloch Professor of Migration Ecology and Conservation within the Department of Zoology and Physiology at University of Wyoming. He is also a research associate with the Wyoming Migration Initiative. Jerod is a quantitative wildlife ecologist with broad interests in understanding how the movement of animals relates to environmental heterogeneity and change, and how these interactions scale to population- and landscape-level ecological processes. Jerod's specific research foci include movement and migration ecology, how cognition and innovation influence foraging behavior, and conservation and management of large mammals.

Speaker's Contact Information

phone icon 307-766-5448

mail iconjmerkle@uwyo.edu

Video

How did a small UK NGO help shape European Union Agriculture Policy?

Main Speaker: John Carroll

Director of the School of Natural Resources, SNR | UNL

Date: 11/12/2020
Time: 2:00 PM
Location: Zoom Webinar (Check with Andy Little, alittle6@unl.edu for information)

John Carroll

Speaker's Bio

SNR Profile
Coffee and Conservation

Speaker's Contact Information

phone icon402-472-8368

mail iconjcarroll2@unl.edu

Video

Social behavior, spatial ecology, and population dynamics of top predators

Main Speaker: John Benson

Vertebrate Ecologist - Assistant Professor, UNL | School of Natural Resources

Date: 11/18/2020
Time: 3:30 PM
Location: Zoom Webinar

John Benson
Dr. John Benson

Abstract

Top predators are important components of ecological communities, and yet their populations are declining globally in response to a variety of human-caused stressors. My colleagues and I have been studying large carnivores across the world to understand their basic ecology, inform local management, and provide broader insight for conservation. I will begin by sharing some results from a global collaboration investigating drivers of cohesion, or the time that individuals spend together, within Canis (wolves, coyotes, dingoes, and jackals) social groups. Social cohesion in canids was strongly influenced by species, breeding status, season, and by interactions with other species – including humans. Second, I will discuss behavioral responses of mountain lions in greater Los Angeles to dramatic reductions in human activity associated with the California stay-at-home order during the Covid-19 pandemic. We found that mountain lions moved more efficiently with fewer humans on the landscape and relaxed avoidance of human infrastructure like trails and development. Our findings highlight that large carnivores likely suffer indirect costs associated with avoiding human activity during 'normal' periods. Finally, I share results from population modeling with mountain lions in two isolated, inbred populations in southern California where we simulated potential strategies for conserving small, isolated populations. Specifically, we evaluated the relative demographic and genetic benefits of a) immigration provided by highway crossing structures, b) translocation of animals, and c) artificial insemination. Collectively, our work highlights the many challenges facing top predators in a human-dominated world and provides potential solutions for their successful conservation.

Speaker's Bio

I have conducted research on wildlife populations across North America studying wolves, mountain lions, black bears, coyotes, moose, mule deer, bighorn sheep, white sharks, and many other species. I am motivated by a desire to inform conservation and management of wildlife populations and wild places – and by a fascination with the natural world. My work combines population, behavioral, molecular, and landscape ecology as I attempt to understand factors influencing individuals, populations, communities, and ecosystems. As a lab we conduct intensive field studies around the world, asking questions grounded in theoretical ecology and using quantitative approaches to achieve practical outcomes and contribute to greater understanding of basic ecology.

Speaker's Contact Information

phone icon402-472-8012

mail iconjbenson22@unl.edu

Video

Risk and capacity: conservation delivery to people whose primary goal is not conservation

Main Speaker: Larkin Powell

Professor of Conservation Biology/Animal Ecology, SNR \ UNL

Date: 12/9/2020
Time: 2:00 PM
Location: Zoom Webinar (Check with Andy Little, alittle6@unl.edu for information)

Larkin Powell

Speaker's Bio

SNR Profile
Coffee and Conservation

Speaker's Contact Information

phone icon402-472-6825

mail iconlpowell3@unl.edu

 

Seminar & Discussions Archives

The School of Natural Resources, its faculty and affiliated programs sponsor various seminar and discussion series. Unless otherwise indicated, all are open to the public.

Seminar & Discussion Archive
  • Text Search