Geography and Applied Ecology Seminars - Spring 2016

Using Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) Dating to Study the Evolution of the Platte River over the Past 100,000 Years

Speaker: Jake Bruihler

Graduate Student seeking a MA in Geography, School of Natural Resources, UNL

Date: 1/22/2016
Time: 2:30:00 PM
Location: 228 Hardin Hall

Abstract

The Platte River in Nebraska is a fantastic example of a braided river, heavily laden with sediment sourced in the Rocky Mountains and High Plains of Colorado and Wyoming. Transported sediments are eventually deposited, forming alluvial fills in the Platte River Valley. These fills record the geologic history and geomorphic evolution of the largest braided river system in North America. Using optically stimulated luminescence dating, an approximate age of these fills can be determined. This information provides us with the geologic record of these fills on a timescale dating back over 100,000 years. This study adds significant data to the investigation of fluvial responses to changing climatic conditions. In this talk, emphasis will be placed on the results of the study, painting a picture of how the Platte River has changed through time.
Jake Bruihler
Jake Bruihler

Speaker's Bio

Jake Bruihler is a current graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, working on his M.A. in Geography. He graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2013, with a bachelor's degree in both Geology and Environmental Studies.

Writing a Short Book on Plains Indians

Speaker: David Wishart

Historical Geographer, School of Natural Resources, UNL

Date: 2/5/2016
Time: 2:30:00 PM
Location: 228 Hardin Hall

Abstract

The Center for Great Plains Studies and Nebraska Press are collaborating on a "short book" series on topics dealing with the Great Plains. The first in the series, "Great Plains Indians", will be published in the fall of 2016. Compressing 13,000 years of Plains Indian life into 125 pages was a challenge. There is so much variation across space and time. I started in the present with Plains Indians in the 2010 census. I then dropped back in time to count changing Indian geographies from the earliest settlement, about 13,000 years ago, to the American takeover with the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. I followed this by presenting a cross-section of Plains Indian geographies in 1803. Then, there was a century of dispossession, which in some ways has continued, but also has been accompanied by a resurgence in Indian populations and power. After taking this long road, the short book ends where it had begun, in the present.
David Wishart
David Wishart

Speaker's Bio

David Wishart is a Professor of Geography in his forty-second year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is a historical geographer, specializing in the Great Plains, especially Indian dispossession and American resettlement. His books include An Unspeakable Sadness: The Dispossession of the Nebraska Indians, which won the J.B. Jackson Prize in 1994 for the best book in North American Geography.

E-mail: dwishart1@unl.edu
Phone: 402-472-3576

The Spatial Organization of Pre-Colonial African Kingdoms: A Comparison of the Empires of Ethiopia and Mali

Speaker: Victoria Alapo

Graduate Student seeking a PhD in Geography, School of Natural Resources, UNL

Date: 2/19/2016
Time: 2:30:00 PM
Location: 228 Hardin Hall

Abstract

Pre-Colonial kingdoms in Sub-Saharan Africa were many, and were organized in unique ways. The old Empires of Ethiopia and Mali were selected for this research because of their antiquity and for their unique contrasts: Ethiopia was an official Christian Empire for about two millennia, while Mali was the quintessential Sub-Saharan Islamic kingdom. Also, both empires possessed documentation written by traditional Africans, in the form of ancient indigenous manuscripts, which predate the colonial period (i.e. the coming of Europeans) by several centuries. In addition, the proposed research will analyze work that has been done by historians and other academics, and an effort will be made to show how the existing body of work can be done from a Geographer's point of view. Not only that, but the research will include the very important and unique perspective of an African academic's vantage point. That is, the viewpoint of a Historical Geographer, as it were, "From the Inside Looking Out". This research is important because until fairly recently, historical accounts given by Europeans or Westerners of non-European societies have been tainted with a Western bias; this research will show that Sub-Saharan Africa did indeed have great civilizations during the Pre-Colonial Era (i.e. the period prior to European colonization in 1884).
Victoria Alapo
Victoria Alapo

Speaker's Bio

Victoria Alapo is a Ph.D. Candidate in the SNR Graduate Program in Geography. Victoria is a Historical Geographer, whose research concentrates on Pre-Colonial Africa. She received her M.S. in Geography from Western Kentucky University in 1996, and a B.Sc. in Geography from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Victoria is also a Geography Instructor at the Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Nebraska, a position she has held for 10 years. In addition, she teaches our Geography of Africa class. Victoria is also currently the Secretary of the Association of American Geographer's (AAG) Bible Geography Specialty Group (BGSG) and is a Student Director with the AAG's Africa Specialty Group (ASG).

Research Presentation

Speaker: Christian Cruz and Zach Olson

Gradaute Students seeking an MA in Geography, School of Natural Resources, UNL

Date: 3/4/2016
Time: 2:30:00 PM
Location: 228 Hardin Hall

Abstract

Christian Cruz: Title- Assessing Landslide Susceptibility Using LiDAR in Knox County, Nebraska
Landslides in northeastern Nebraska are a fairly common occurrence. Analysis of landslide susceptibility was conducted using elevation data from LiDAR, land cover data, and soils data. Data were assessed using qualitative and quantitative approaches within a geographic information system. Data for logistic regression analysis was extracted from randomly selected points along landslide scarps. Factors though to contribute to landslides were classified to identify areas that are least likely and most likely to experience landslides. The resultant map locates and distinguishes areas that are more likely to incur landslide activity or areas that have already experienced a significant amount of landslides. The factors considered to have the most influence on landslide formation were high slope angles, different soil series, land cover, and Cretaceous shale bedrock. In this talk, the methods used and results of the study will be presented.
 
Zachary Olson: Formation of Sand Ridges in the eastern Platte River valley, Nebraska
Sand ridges on the floodplain in the eastern Platte River valley are elongate features that range from approximately 150-1600 meters in length and 20-40 meters in width. They are fairly dramatic features as they lie approximately 3-4 meters above the low relief landscape of the surrounding floodplain. The ridges are preferentially found on the southern and eastern banks of abandoned channels of the Platte River. Historically, there has been abundant research that focused on the active Platte River channel bed, its sediment load, and the morphology of the river's sand bars, however no studies have addressed the formation of these ridges which is the objective of this investigation. Thirteen cores were collected for the project, seven near the town of Silver Creek, and three from Two Rivers State Recreational Area. The ridges were cored using three inch aluminum pipes that are vibrated into the ground by way of a backpack-mounted vibracore apparatus. Cores penetrated to depths of up to 3.8 meters. Particle size analysis was conducted using laser diffraction on samples taken at 10 cm intervals in each core. The ridge fills are predominantly very fine to medium sand with zones of coarse sand. The upper portions of each sand ridge core showed no apparent bedding, but prominent lamination is present in all cores below a meter of the soil surface. OSL dating was used to determine the time of deposition for individual sediment packages within the cores and estimate the depositional ages for all of the sampled sand ridges and adjacent alluvial plain. Nine Preliminary OSL ages suggest the ridges sampled were deposited approximately 500-1,500 years ago. Ongoing investigations are being conducted to investigate whether the sand ridges were deposited by eolian or alluvial processes.
Christian Cruz (top) | Zachary Olson (bottom)
Christian Cruz (top) | Zachary Olson (bottom)

Speaker's Bio

Christian Cruz: Christian graduated from Pittsburg State University with a B.S. in Geography in May of 2013. He is currently pursuing a M.A. in Geography.
 
Zachary Olson: Zachary is a current graduate student at the University of Nebraska, working on his M.A. in Geography. He graduated from University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2014 with a bachelo'r's degree in Physical and Environmental Geography.

Fish and Flows: Linking Patterns and Processes in the Lower Platte River, NE

Speaker: Jonathan Spurgeon

Graduate Student seeking a PhD in Natural Resources, School of Natural Resources, UNL

Date: 3/11/2016
Time: 2:30:00 PM
Location: 228 Hardin Hall
Announcement: Download a copy

Abstract

The flow regime is considered a master variable in structuring lotic systems across multiple scales. Research has focused on quantifying flow characteristics across large spatial scales and also integrating such measures of flow variation with biological responses (e.g., fish survival and somatic growth). However, the scale at which quantitative measures of flow are derived may alter the interpretation of fish population response to changing flow conditions, and thus alter prescription of conservation and management activities. We quantify flow conditions in the Lower Platte River (LPR), NE at two different scales (i.e., annual and sub-daily) and show how flow variables derived at the annual time step may "average-over" important sub-daily flow structure within the LPR. Flow variables at the annual time-step responded well to large changes in climatic patterns (i.e., wet vs. dry cycles), whereas, flow variables derived at the sub-daily time-step were more sensitive to anthropogenic alteration (i.e., hydropeaking). We provide a case study where we link LPR flow characteristics derived at the annual time-step to changes in channel catfish Icatalurus punctatus annual somatic growth. Channel catfish annual somatic growth responded to the magnitude, duration, and timing of seasonal flows within the LPR. The model results reverberate calls that multiple components of a river's flow regime likely interact to drive system productivity and should be considered during river management planning.
Jonathan Spurgeon with catch of the day.
Jonathan Spurgeon with catch of the day.

Speaker's Bio

Jonathan Spurgeon is a graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln working on his PhD in Applied Ecology. Jonathan's research is focused on integrating theoretical models of river production with population dynamics of large-river fishes.

GIS & 3D Technologies for Explorations of Archaeological Landscapes

Speaker: Heather Richards-Rissetto

Assistant Professor, Anthropology, UNL

Date: 4/1/2016
Time: 2:30:00 PM
Location: 228 Hardin Hall

Abstract

Since the 1980s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have increasingly become a mainstay of the archaeologist's geospatial toolkit. While 3D technologies such as laser scanning and photogrammetry are relatively recent additions to this toolkit, they are quickly becoming integral to archaeological research. As a landscape archaeologist, I use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and 3D technologies to study how the ancient Maya engaged with their physical environment and how this engagement influenced cultural processes and practices. In this talk, I will discuss how the MayaArch3D and MayaCityBuilder Projects are working to develop tools to bring together GIS and 3D technologies to study ancient Maya architecture and landscapes. The research focuses on the archaeological site of Copan-today a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Honduras - but from the 5th to 9th centuries CE, it was a cultural and commercial crossroads at the southeast periphery of the Maya world. In regard to 3D technology, we are using airborne LiDAR, terrestrial laser scanning, and photogrammetry to create 3D models of what exists today. We are currently in the process of integrating these 3D models along with georeferenced CAD models into Unity - a game development engine-to allow people to interact with different types of models and explore 3D simulations of Copan's

Heather Richards-Rissetto
Heather Richards-Rissetto

Speaker's Bio

Heather Richards-Rissetto is an archaeologist specializing in the ancient Maya of Central America. She is Assistant Professor in Anthropology and a Faculty Fellow in the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities. She uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and 3D visualization to investigate how the accessibility and visibility of architecture communicated information and structured social experience in past societies. Her current interests involve using gesture-based and immersive technologies such as Microsoft Kinect, Leap Motion, and Oculus Rift.

E-mail: richards-rissetto@unl.edu
Phone: 402-472-7975

Sound Ecology of a Wind-energy Development in the Nebraska Sandhills

Speaker: E.J. Raynor

Post Doctoral Research Associate, School of Natural Resources, UNL

Date: 4/8/2016
Time: 2:30:00 PM
Location: 228 Hardin Hall

Abstract

Soundscape ecology is founded on understanding the collection of sounds that emanate from landscapes. The conceptual framework of soundscape ecology is based on the causes and consequences of biological (biophony), geophysical (geophony), and human-produced (anthrophony) sounds. Using spatially- and temporally-explicit recordings of sounds along a noise gradient in the Nebraska Sandhills the effects of human-produced sounds on grassland bird communities can be determined. This information can allow us to document how sound sources including wind turbines and roads create a noise footprint across a pristine grassland faced with future human development. In this talk, emphasis will be placed on the methodology of sound analysis and preliminary results assessing anthropogenic influences on grassland bird communities.

E.J. Raynor
E.J. Raynor

Speaker's Bio

E.J. Raynor is a post-doctoral research associate with Drs. Mary Bomberger Brown and Larkin Powell. He graduated from Kansas State University in 2015, with a doctorate in grassland ecology.

E-mail: eraynor2@unl.edu
Phone: 402-472-8741

Lavin Memorial Lecture: Geography and Cartography in an Era of American Exceptionalism

Speaker: Michael Peterson

Professor, University of Nebraska Omaha

Date: 4/15/2016
Time: 2:30:00 PM
Location: 163 Hardin Hall

Abstract

Dr. Peterson is a geographer/cartographer with research interests in maps and the Internet. He has traveled and worked in many parts of the world. In this talk, he contrasts his travels and interactions with people in different parts of the world with the concept of American Exceptionalism.

Complete Event Schedule

Thursday, April 14th
  • 5:00 to 7:00pm -- Peace Corps OpenStreet "Mapathon" Hardin 2nd Floor Lobby (First ever UNL mapathon!)
Friday, April 15th
  • 8:15 to 9:00 am --Open "meet and greet" with SNR and A&S faculty, staff, and students, Hardin 163 Lobby
  • 9:00 am to 12:30 pm - "Mapping in the Cloud" workshop, Hardin 141
  • 12:30 to 1:30 pm -- Student lunch with Peterson, TBA
  • 2 to 2:30 pm-- Gamma Theta Upsilon (GTU) International Geography Honorary Society reception (lobby)
  • 2:30 to 3:20 pm-- Lavin Memorial Lecture: "Geography and Cartography in an Era of American Exceptionalism"
  • 3:30 to 4 pm-- GTU induction ceremony
  • 4 to 5 pm--Individual meetings with students, staff, and faculty
  • 6:00 to 8:00 pm --Social, Ploughshare Brewing Company, 1630 P St.
Michael Peterson
Michael Peterson

Speaker's Bio

Michael P. Peterson is a Professor in the Department of Geography / Geology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha where he has taught courses in world regional geography, cartography, computer mapping, remote sensing and geographic information systems. He joined the faculty in 1982.

Dr. Peterson has served as visiting professor at the following universities: University of Washington, Seattle; Free University Berlin, Germany (Fulbright); University of Hawaii-Manoa; Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University in Australia; Technical University of Vienna in Austria (Fulbright); University of Applied Technology in Munich, Germany; Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada; University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand and; Wuhan University, Wuhan, China. He is past-President of the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) and former editor of Cartographic Perspectives. He chaired the Maps and the Internet commission of the International Cartographic Association (ICA) from 1999-2011.

His book publications include Interactive and Animated Cartography (1995), Multimedia Cartography (1999), Maps and the Internet (2003), Animated Atlas of Air Traffic over North America(2006), International Perspectives on Maps and the Internet (2007), Online Maps with APIs and Webservices (2012), and Mapping in the Cloud (2014).

Frequent Fliers: New Discoveries in Bird Migration

Speaker: Bridget Stutchbury

Professor, York University, Ontario

Date: 4/22/2016
Time: 2:30:00 PM
Location: 228 Hardin Hall
Announcement: Download a copy

Abstract

Each fall, billions of songbirds leave North America on an epic journey to their far-away wintering grounds in Central and South America where many live in tropical forests shared by toucans, howler monkeys and jaguars. Dozens of species have experienced serious, long-term population declines that are driven in part by the threats that these birds face during migration and while in the tropics or on their northern breeding grounds. Only recently has it been possible to track the entire migration of individual songbirds to find out how they accomplish their amazing 10,000 km (or more!) round trip and to map out critical habitats used during migration. Dr. Stutchbury will reveal her surprising migration tracking results for Purple Martins and Wood Thrushes and discuss how this research can help us save songbirds.

Producer JoAnne Jackson will co-present starting at 3:15 p.m. and will give insight into the research behind the film, as well as what went into filming to make the documentary possible. As migratory birds usually fly at night, the production team had to find creative ways to tell the story.

Bridget Stutchbury
Bridget Stutchbury

Speaker's Bio

Bridget Stutchbury completed her PhD at Yale, and was a fellow and research associate at the Smithsonian Institution. She is currently a professor of biology at York University and is affiliated with more than a dozen organizations.

Video

Partnering with Tribal Communities for Local Climate Assessments: Sharing Success Stories from the Missouri River Basin

Speaker: Martha Shulski

Director, Nebraska State Climate Office and Nebraska State Climatologist, School of Natural Resources, UNL

Date: 4/29/2016
Time: 2:30:00 PM
Location: 228 Hardin Hall
Announcement: Download a copy

Abstract

The Northern Plains region of the U.S. experiences rapid swings in extreme climate events. These high impact events have deleterious effects on communities and livelihoods. The area is especially susceptible to drought given the semi-arid climate conditions and competition for water resources. The adaptive capacity for tribal communities is challenged as much, if not more, than other rural populations. Efforts are underway to support tribal leadership, natural resource managers, and associated communities to better prepare for and respond to extreme climatic events, with a particular focus on drought and water resources management. This seminar will share success stories from tribal community-led interdisciplinary collaborative efforts.

Martha Shulski
Martha Shulski

Speaker's Bio

Dr. Shulski received her B.S. in Meteorology from North Carolina State University and her M.S. in Agricultural Meteorology from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. She attained her Ph.D. in Soil Science and Climatology from the University of Minnesota.

E-mail: mshulski3@unl.edu
Phone: 402-472-6711