Distinguished Ecologist Lecture Series

The Ecosystem Science Center welcomes distinguished ecologists each fall to the Distinguished Ecologist Lecture Series (DELS). The Series is co-sponsored by the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, Department of Biological Sciences, Center for Water and Society, Copper Country Audubon Club, and Visiting Women & Minority Lecturer/Scholar Series (funded by the President's Office and the Office for Institutional Diversity for the States of Michigan's King-Chavez-Parks Initiative).

Graduate students enrolled in FW5000 receive one credit for attending the series. They have the opportunity to meet guest ecologists in pre- and post-lecture meetings to review their research and discuss its impact on the field of ecology.  For more information, please contact  Research Assistant Professor Amber Roth.

The Fall 2013 schedule of distinguished ecologists is as follows:

Why do grasslands differ in their response to nutrient addition? Insights from long-term experiments.

Thursday, September 19, 12:30pm G002 Noblet Building, (Faculty host: Casey Huckins)

Dr. Katherine Gross
University Distinguished Professor of Plant Biology
Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) Director
Michigan State University


Kay is broadly interested in the causes and consequences of species diversity in plant communities. Her current research focuses on how nutrient input and management impacts the diversity, productivity and composition of grasslands. Kay and colleagues established several longterm experiments to test hypotheses about how nutrient enrichment (fertilization) impacts grasslands. In one experiment they followed community response to fertilization and disturbance for over 25 years. Kay is also interested in the consequences of diversity in managed agricultural ecosystems. On the KBS LTER project they monitor the long-term effects of different crop management systems on the composition of weed communities in different crops. Experiments and field studies established as part of the Great Lakes BioEnergy Research Center at KBS are used to test hypotheses relating diversity, productivity and management practices to the sustainability of alternative biofuel crops.


Biodiversity patterns from the large to the small.

Friday, September 20, 2:00pm in DOW 642, (Faculty host: Casey Huckins)

Dr. Gary Mittelbach
Professor of Zoology
Michigan State University



As an ecologist, Gary is interested in the evolution and maintenance of biodiversity (the variety of life), and in particular, what determines species diversity at different spatial scales. At the local scale, the number and type of species found in a community depends on biotic and abiotic interactions, species sorting, and dispersal of colonists from a regional species pool. At broad spatial scales (regions, continents), we need to consider the factors that drive rates of diversification (speciation and extinction), as well as the dispersal of species between regions. Studying biodiversity at these different spatial scales requires different tools and different approaches. Local communities often lend themselves to experimental manipulation and my current research in this area includes experimental studies in freshwater communities (working with fish and aquatic invertebrates), and a long-term, collaborative study on the effects of resource heterogeneity on species diversity in a terrestrial grassland.

Anthropogenic inputs in urbanizing landscapes and consequences to bird-plant-predator interactions. 

Thursday, September 26, 12:30pm G002 Noblet Building, (Faculty host: Amber Roth) 

Dr. Amanda Rodewald
Director of Conservation Science, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Associate Professor, Department of Natural Resources
Robert F. Schumann Faculty Fellow
Cornell University


Dr. Rodewald’s research program seeks to understand the behavioral and demographic mechanisms guiding population, community, and landscape-scale responses of birds to land use change and human activity in the eastern US and Latin America. Most of her current projects focus on understanding how land use change, agroforestry practices, and invasive species affect (1) species interactions, including predator-prey and food web dynamics, (2) population demography and behavioral ecology of forest birds, (3) patterns of avian distribution and diversity at the landscape scale, and (4) selective environments for behavioral and morphological traits.

Terrestrial support of aquatic consumers in a large river, the Hudson.

Thursday, October 17, 12:30pm G002 Noblet Building, (Faculty host: Amy Marcarelli)

Dr. Jonathan Cole
Distinguished Senior Scientist and G. E. Hutchinson Chair in Ecology
Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies





Dr. Cole's research focuses on the interface between microbiology and biogeochemistry in aquatic ecosystems. In almost any system, microorganisms are responsible for most of the aerobic respiration and all of the anaerobic respiration. Thus, the production of carbon dioxide, methane, sulfide as well as the regeneration of other inorganic nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus) is largely due to the activities of these microorganisms. Cole is particularly interested in the biotic and abiotic regulation of microbial metabolism, energy flow and carbon cycles in lakes, rivers and marine systems. He has been focusing his attention more recently on the fates of terrestrial C in aquatic systems and the role that inland waters have on the global carbon). It turns out that inland waters are quite significant in both the global and regional balances of C both in terms of the storage of organic C in lake and reservoir sediments and in the oxidation of terrestrially derived organic materials.


 Bonus Seminar sponsored by Copper County Audubon Club (everyone is welcome to attend):

Dr. Amanda Rodewald, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Cornell University (Faculty Host: Amber Roth)

Wednesday, September 25, 7:00pm G002 Noblet Building

Seminar Title: A bird of two worlds: the challenge of conserving the Cerulean Warbler



Please see past years' information at: 

More News Past visiting ecologists