Fall 2017 Graduate Ecology Seminar: Ecological and Social Dimensions of Changing Fire Regimes

posted May 12, 2017

Instructor: Monica Turner
Course number: ZOO 956
Credit hours: 1 credit
Class meeting: Fridays 9:30-10:45am
Location: 447 Birge Hall

Course description and objectives: Fire frequency, size, and severity are increasing in the US and worldwide as climate warms. In turn, changing fire regimes are having profound effects on ecosystems and society, and receiving substantial attention from scientists and policy makers. For example, the US released an interagency National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy in 2014; the National Academy of Sciences hosted an interdisciplinary workshop on A Century of Wildland Fire Research in March 2017; and numerous conferences and workshops have been addressed the topic. However, responding to increasing fire activity is considered a “wicked problem” that cannot be easily addressed with current science and policy paradigms. This seminar will provide students with an overview of the current literature, concepts, and research directions associated with detecting and predicting changes in fire regimes, and anticipating effects and responses of social-ecological systems. We will follow a journal-club format that emphasizes reading and discussion of primary literature drawn from ecological and social sciences.

Summer Short Course in Teaching Socio-Environmental Synthesis

posted April 4, 2017

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center invites applications for the short course, Teaching about Socio-Environmental Synthesis with Case Studies to be held at SESYNC in Annapolis, MD on July 25-28, 2017.

Preparing students to tackle urgent and complex environmental problems is a critical challenge. Problems such as global climate change, water resource management, and sustainable development are dynamic, multi-faceted issues that require interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches to solve.

Socio-environmental synthesis is a problem-solving approach that considers the integrated nature of the environment and human society, and combines insights, methods, and data from the natural and social sciences to produce knowledge and inform solutions. SESYNC is dedicated to educating about this approach and its broad relevance, and to teaching the core concepts and competencies necessary to understand, research, and address socio-environmental problems.

Through the short course, participants will engage in discussions about teaching the concepts and competencies students need to understand and address complex, socio-environmental problems. Participants will also design and create a case study for teaching; each individual or team will commit to producing one case that will be shared via the SESYNC website.The short course is open to faculty, postdocs, graduate students, and other professionals, and all cases must focus on a socio-environmental issue. For more information, please visit our website.

The deadline to apply is April 18, 2017. Please share with colleagues!

Fall 2017 course: ENT 875 - Genome Evolution Seminar

posted March 28, 2017

Instructor: Sean Schoville
Course number: ENT 875
Class meeting: Fridays 2:00-3:00pm
Location: 243 Russell Labs

Course description: “Genome Evolution” is an emerging field that attempts to link genome-scale genetic variation and structural analysis of the genome to evolutionary processes. Prominent areas of research include comparative genomics, gene family evolution and genome duplication events, the study of transposable elements, host-microbe interactions, and epigenetics. A major challenge in this field is developing experimental and analytical approaches to test competing mechanisms of genome evolution. Students in this seminar will participate in a focused review of recent and foundational literature on genome evolution.

Spring 2017 Graduate Ecology Seminar: Forest Resilience in a Changing World

posted December 5, 2016

Instructor: Monica Turner
Course number: ZOO 956
Credit hours: 1 credit
Class meeting: Fridays 9:30-10:45am
Location: 447 Birge Hall

Course description and objectives: Managing for resilience has become a priority for forest management in the US and in other countries. Resilience is well developed conceptually, but how to operationalize these concepts in real-world landscape remains a challenge. There is little consensus about how forest resilience should be defined and measured at different spatial and temporal scales and for multiple responses; mechanisms that confer or erode resilience; effects of interacting drivers, such as climate, disturbance and land use; how to anticipate and detect abrupt changes; and how forest resilience should be assessed in social-ecological systems. This seminar will provide students with an overview of the literature, concepts and current research directions that apply resilience concepts to real-world forest landscapes. We will follow a journal-club format that emphasizes reading and discussion of primary literature.

Spring course: Ento/Agro 875 - Big Data and Ecoinformatics in Agriculture

posted December 5, 2016

Instructors: Claudio Gratton and Chris Kucharik
Class meeting: Mondays 12:00-1:30pm
Location: 594 Russell Labs

Structure: Weekly, 90 min class with student-lead discussions based on readings or guest lectures. Grades will be based on participation, leading a class presentation, and writing a short summary of a session topic. Syllabus forthcoming in early January here.

Description: The era of “Big Data” is here and it is rapidly transforming many fields of research, not the least of which is the study of agriculture and the environment. This seminar is for graduate students and post-docs interested in learning more about this rapidly expanding field and the diversity of approaches that are being taken. We welcome students from all backgrounds and disciplines, and anticipate that some discussion topics will not be strictly focused on agriculture (broadly speaking), and will include topics or examples from social media, business, medicine, and environmental/ecology more broadly.

Topics will include: the nature of big data; privacy concerns; novel data sources including remotely sensed data, social media, or citizen science; philosophical considerations in big data including problems and pitfalls; computation and informatics; applications of big data to animal production, crop and pest management, or breeding; decision-making based on big data.

Contacts: Claudio Gratton and Chris Kucharik.

Spring course: Zoology 725 - Ecosystem Concepts

posted November 22, 2016

Instructors: Steve Carpenter
Class meeting: Mondays 1:20-4:20pm
Location:Hasler Laboratory Conference Room

Ecosystem Concepts is a critical survey of the current literature of ecosystem science. Topics include How to read and write a scientific paper; Origins of ecosystem science; Ecosystem metabolism; Nutrient cycling and limitation; Resource flows among ecosystems; Climate change; Land-use change; Chemical changes; Biotic changes and species invasions; Food webs; Stability; and Ecosystem services.

Students will be responsible all assigned readings, for leadership of selected discussions, and for a term project intended to produce a publishable review or synthesis paper.

Required readings will be journal articles from the current literature. For background we will refer to the textbook: Weathers, K.C., D.L. Strayer, and G.E. Likens (eds.). 2013. Fundamentals of Ecosystem Science. Academic Press, Waltham, MA.

Enrollment is limited and audits will not be permitted. Prerequisites: Graduate standing or permission of instructor.

Questions? Contact Steve Carpenter.

Spring course: SOIL SCI/MICROBIO 523 - Soil Microbiology and Biochemistry

posted November 22, 2016

Instructors: Thea Whitman
Class meeting: Tuesdays & Thursdays 11:00am-12:15pm

Soils are among the most microbially diverse habitats on earth. What organisms are found there and how do they live? What roles do soil microbes play in climate change and nutrient cycling? Do macroecological principles apply in soil systems? High-throughput sequencing allows us to “see” soil microbes like never before, but how do we work with the data and what are its limitations? Join us this spring to investigate these and other fascinating questions!

Spring course: FWE 565 - Principles of Landscape Ecology

posted August 29, 2016

Instructors: David J. Mladenoff
Class meeting: Tuesdays & Thursdays 9:55-10:45am
Credits: 2

Course Description: Principles of Landscape Ecology will explore landscape ecology as a framework for landscape research, analysis and management. This course will: 1) synthesize the dominant themes of landscape ecology; 2) familiarize students with current research trends in the field; and 3) explore applications of the landscape approach. The course is useful to graduate students and senior undergraduates in natural resources, ecology, conservation biology, landscape architecture, geography, land use planning, and other fields.

Prerequisites: Junior standing, and an ecology lab course beyond the introductory level, such as Botany/Zoology 460 General Ecology, or Forest & Wildlife Ecology 550 Forest Ecosystems, and a statistics course. Instructor Consent is NOT required. Note: This course, or similar experience, is recommended as a prerequisite for ZOOLOGY/FWE 879, Advanced Landscape Ecology.

Inspire Young Scientists: Become a mentor

posted October 3, 2016

Would you like the opportunity to give a young person a glimpse of real science research? You might help them see that a career in science is a possibility for their future. You can give them an understanding of what scientists do, how they think and why science is important in their daily lives.

We are recruiting mentors for middle schoolers who would like to participate in the Madison Middle School Science Symposium. View our webpage to learn more about the program. See specifically the link to the Mentor Page for additional information including “Sample Projects from Previous Years”. Anyone can serve as a mentor - you do not need any specific science background or experience. A basic understanding of how science works, what scientists do and how they think through and implement research is helpful. Undergraduates, grad students, staff, faculty, parents and community volunteers have all been successful mentors.

Mentors meet with their mentee(s) approximately 1 hour, once a week, after school from November through April. Through your meetings, you will guide your mentee(s) through their project, starting with asking and refining a research question, developing investigations, collecting data analyzing evidence and communicating results. Most mentors meet with the student at their school during afterschool hours for one hour, once a week on a day that is convenient for both of you. Options are between 1:30 and 3:30 on Mondays or between 2:30 and 4:30 Tuesday-Friday.

If you are interested, in mentoring for the Symposium Program, we ask that you:

We need to recruit at least 100 mentors, so please share this with all your colleagues and friends and especially any student organizations who might have multiple interested members.

Wetland Science Conference Announcements:

posted September 27, 2016

  • The Scholarship Application is now available. The deadline for the scholarship application is January 13, 2017. We really want to encourage student participation, and to do that, in recent years, we’ve offered discounted student registration rates as well as student scholarships. We’re anticipating that we will be able to offer scholarships again this year. Priority for these scholarships is given to students who are giving oral presentations or posters at the conference. (The deadline for abstract proposals is November 15, 2016 – here is the link to the abstract submission form.)

We will also be hosting a student presentation competition with cash prizes for the best presentations.

Conference Information
WWA's 22st Annual Wetland Science Conference - Wetland Connections
February 28-March 2, 2017
Holiday Inn Convention Center in Stevens Point, Wisconsin
For more information, visit

Help Wisconsin Ecology Connect to New Members!

posted March 31, 2016

Are there new faculty in your department that would be a great fit for Wisconsin Ecology? Do you have new grad students, post docs, colleagues and more that aren't on our mailing list but would like to be? Please help Wisconsin Ecology find the people we may have missed!

Join our weekly email mailing list at

If you are interested in affiliating with Wisconsin Ecology, send an email to

Workshop - Preparing for an Academic Career in the Geosciences

posted February 2, 2016

This year, NAGT/On the Cutting Edge will again be offering a workshop on Preparing for an Academic Career in the Geosciences.

This year, the Preparing for an Academic Career workshop will be offered in a new format as one of the workshops at the Earth Educators' Rendezvous. This format will allow participants to design an experience that capitalizes on our strong workshop content in the morning, to choose among workshops, panels, and plenary sessions that are part of the Earth Educator Rendezvous on Monday-Wednesday afternoon and re-join the workshop group for evening career-related discussions on Monday and Tuesday.

This workshop is designed specifically for graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and others who are interested in pursuing academic careers in the geosciences.

Three main goals of the workshop are for participants to improve their application and interview skills for academic jobs, become more effective at goal-setting and time management, and broaden their network (of colleagues and resources) to help jump-start their teaching and research as a faculty member. During the workshop and associated Rendezvous opportunities, each participant will:

  • Learn about academic careers in different educational settings (e.g., two-year colleges, primarily undergraduate institutions, universities).
  • Develop a plan for your next career stage. Set goals to move toward that plan.
  • Learn about the job search process and improve your job applications: learn about documenting strengths and accomplishments in teaching and research, and develop or revise your teaching statement.
  • Improve your communication skills: the elevator pitch and interviews.
  • Explore aspects of effective and innovative teaching. Make your own selections from Monday-Wednesday afternoon Rendezvous workshops and sessions. These are open to you and included in registration.
  • You can find more details on the workshop website: which includes a link to the detailed workshop agenda.

    Be a Pen Pal to a Pre-Scientist

    posted September 14, 2015

    The mission of Letters to a Pre-Scientist is to inspire and empower middle school students from under-resourced communities to pursue careers in science and technology. We do this by helping them form friendships with scientists from around the world. Our program is a cross-curricular experience where students learn science while improving their reading and writing skills and broadening their understanding of world geography and culture. We believe that every student is a pre-scientist, and we aim to give them the tools they need to continue their education.

    To become a pen pal, fill out the sign-up form on the Pre-Scientist website.