Seminars & Discussions

Spring & Summer 2024

SNR Graduate Student Seminar Series

Main Speaker: Jake Harvey & Tanessa Morris

Date: 2/28/2024
Time: 12:00 PM
Location: 901 South Hardin Hall

Jake Harvey & Tanessa Morris
Tanessa Morris (left) and Jake Harvey (right)


Jake Harvey

The Influence of Stalking Cover, Habitat Productivity, and Human Disturbance on Mountain Lion Resource Selection at Foraging Sites

Understanding the landscape features that facilitate successful predation by large carnivores has been limited because of the difficulty of accounting for variation in structural and functional characteristics within the broad vegetation classes typically included in resource selection models. This variation is particularly important for stalk and ambush predators occupying anthropogenic landscapes that rely on specific habitat features to kill prey because human landscape alteration may impact predation success. We quantified resource selection by 21 mountain lions (Puma concolor) at 492 black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) feeding sites along the urban edge in California’s San Francisco North Bay, USA. Mountain lions did not select higher primary productivity at feeding sites overall, but their selection of primary productivity increased as a function of increasing tree and shrub ground cover. This indicates that mountain lions prioritize structural habitat features that promote successfully killing prey, rather than productive areas that maximize encounters with prey. Density of cover influenced the probability of predation more strongly than the presence of forested areas alone and may also provide cover from human disturbance. Mountain lions did not strongly avoid buildings and fed on deer in close proximity to buildings (mean = 328m). Interestingly, mountain lions selected parcel boundaries lined with fencing at feeding sites, which could allow them to corner prey and highlight that humans can both negatively and positively influence mountain lion predation. Our results advance understanding of structural characteristics of natural and anthropogenic habitat features used by top predators to kill prey in fragmented, human-dominated landscapes.

Tanessa Morris

Effect of Biomass Water Dynamics in Cosmic-Ray Neutron Sensor Observations: A Long-Term Analysis of Maize-Soybean Rotation in Nebraska

The precise measurement of soil water content (SWC) is crucial for effective water resource management. This study utilizes the Cosmic Ray Neutron Sensor (CRNS) as a novel technique for area-averaged SWC measurements at an intermediate scale. However, accurate SWC measurements from CRNS require consideration of all hydrogen sources, including time-variable ones like plant biomass and plant water. Near Mead, Nebraska, three field sites (CSP1, CSP2, and CSP3) growing a maize-soybean rotation have been monitored for 5 (CSP1 and CSP2) and 13 years (CSP3), collecting data on biomass water equivalent (BWE) biweekly with destructive sampling, epithermal neutron counts, atmospheric variables, and point-scale SWC from a sparse Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR) network (4 locations and 5 depths). In 2023, dense gravimetric SWC surveys were collected a minimum of 8 times in each field over the growing season. The N0 parameter, derived from the Desilets Equation, exhibits a strong linear relationship with BWE, suggesting a straightforward vegetation correction factor (fb). Results from both the 2023 gravimetric surveys and long-term TDR data indicate a count rate reduction of 1% (+/- 0.5%) for every 1 kg/m2 (or mm of water) increase in biomass for all 3 sites and 2 crop types. This reduction factor aligns well with existing but shorter-term studies in croplands and forests. The higher count rate detector model #CRS 2000B model at CSP1 and CSP2 significantly reduced the uncertainty in the results (R2 of 0.8 vs. 0.3) compared to the CRS 1000B model at CSP3. This research strongly supports the idea that an fb correction should be applied for cropland sites. It is also likely the same fb correction can be applied to forest sites, but a long-term study is still needed. This long-term study contributes valuable insights into the vegetation correction factor for CRNS, helping resolve a long-standing issue within the CRNS community.


Kaleidoscopes of Resilience: Viewing Agriculture Sustainability through Reflection in an Everchanging World

Main Speaker: Jill Motschenbacher

Associate Professor of Practice in Soil Conservation , University of Nebraska-Lincoln | School of Natural Resources

Date: 4/19/2024
Time: 12:30 PM
Location: 162 North Hardin Hall

 Jill Motschenbacher
Jill M. D. Motschenbacher, MEd, PhD


Students can build an intellectual foundation for problem-solving and managing challenges by viewing contrasting ideas and perspectives as ‘stunning patterns of colorful transformation’. Increasing discipline knowledge in production agriculture by developing tangible connections between scientific principles, food and fiber system development, and events in human history is a necessary step for modern scientists as they strive to develop resilient systems. Building on students’ scientific knowledge to learn and reflect on the parallel influences of social, economic, and civil structures affecting ecological system functioning, food security, cultural sovereignty, and environmental health enables students to fully grasp the historical foundations, motivations, advances, and outcomes of global and local agricultural systems across time. In life, developing resilience in food production systems can be comparable to a ‘dynamically rotating mosaic’ of solutions, which should all be embraced as instinctive innovative strengths. Resilience, from a personal viewpoint, is a learned skill that centers on exposure and experience. The core highlight of my academic scholarship centers around teaching resilience in agriculture, exposing individuals to diverse facets that define the realities of communities across the world, and providing experiences for students to reflect on the cause-and-effects of their own problem-solving trials.

Speaker's Bio

My teaching and mentoring approaches are shaped by over 25 years of professional experience and academic study in the disciplines of agriculture, engineering, and education. Much of my agriculture-related work and experience has been in field-crop production systems located in and around the United States (Arkansas, Iowa, Tennessee, North Dakota, Minnesota), and locations in Kenya, Uganda, the Philippines, and, in the near future, Namibia. I have multi-year experience working and living with populations of adult learners, first-generation college students, active military personnel and Veterans, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), LGBTQIA+ communities, New Americans, academic scholars, domestic and international farmers, K-12 students, and college students from a range of rural-to-urban backgrounds. My collection of rich living experiences has strengthened my ability to explain balanced insights into situations which encompass diverse people, beliefs, economic structures, and food systems. I use these experiences as inspiration to investigate, analyze, and instruct students about practical methods towards creating resilient agricultural systems and food secure communities.

Speaker's Contact Information


Virtual fencing's impact on the beef industry and natural resource conservation

Main Speaker: Kaitlyn Dozler

Masters candidate in Natural Resource Sciences with a specialization in Applied Ecology , University of Nebraska-Lincoln | School of Natural Resources

Date: 4/24/2024
Time: 12:00 PM
Location: 901 South Hardin Hall

Kaitlyn Dozler
Kaitlyn Dozler


The Nebraska sandhills are a unique ecological landscape with various plant and wildlife species. The sandhills are also the home to Nebraska’s booming beef industry, housing the top 3 beef counties in the U.S. States like Nebraska face the challenge of managing both the needs of agriculturalists and the state's natural resources. Innovative precision livestock management (PLM) technologies can aid cattle producers in better-applying grazing management for key grazing land resource objectives.1 Virtual fencing (VF) is a relatively new PLM tool that utilizes individual animal collars and a global positioning system (GPS) to create an invisible barrier for cattle by emitting sensory cues via sound and electric stimuli, thus giving livestock managers the ability to manipulate animal movements remotely.2,3 This technology provides opportunities for grazing managers to create flexible grazing management boundaries that require less time, labor, and physical fencing while potentially improving grazing practices that benefit cattle utilization efficiency and targeted natural resource conservation. My study has two main focuses. The first is on the potential impact new PLM technologies, such as virtual fences, have on cattle welfare. By examining cattle heart rates, we can measure acute stress and show ranchers virtual fencing is an ethical option to provide new flexibility to their ranching operations. The second focus is to examine how agriculturalists can utilize virtual fences to create heterogeneity in the landscape and protect critical habitat areas such as game and songbird nesting areas.



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