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Grad Students attend the Animal Behavior Society Meeting in Wisconsin

Members of the Ferkin and Bowers lab went to the Animal Behavior Society Conference in Wisconsin in August! New friends were made, old friends were visited, and some research was showcased!

Pictured (left to right): Ryan Scauzillo, Karl Rohrer, Lyndsey Pierson, Kelsey Clark, Jonathan Jenkins, and Sarah Gerris.




Graduate Student  Attends Ridge to Reef Climate and Life Summer Institute in August
by Malle Carrasco-Harris

I was selected to attend the Ridge to Reef Climate and Life Summer Institute hosted at the University of California Irvine. Irvine, located in Orange County, was the perfect location for this institute because it experiences the Mediterranean climate, typified by long, dry summers and mild, wet winters. This area is a unique ecosystem with many rare or endangered plants and animals, but also sits in the heart of Southern California urban development and sprawl.

The goals of the R2R CAL were to provide training in skills and concepts related to climate change and biological diversity in human-dominated and impacted systems. Twenty-five students from the US and Mexico represented various departments, including ecology and evolutionary biology, engineering, and earth sciences. Every  day, various professors provided introductions to their fields, and then we engaged in group activities that usually lead to an outcome we presented to our peers.

Topics included:

  • Management challenges and analysis tools (Jutta Burger and Efi Foufoula-Georgiou)
  • Beyond the urban wildland interface (Darrel Jenerette)
  • Precipitation variability (Osvaldo Sala) & a visit to the Loma Ridge research site
  • Urban ecology and management (Diane Pataki)
  • Climate variability (Kelly Caylor) & data collection at Corona del Mar state beach
  • Marine intertidal ecosystems and communities (Cascade Sorte)
  • Environmental flows and urban water management (Eric Stein)

R2R was a neat opportunity to work with students from different backgrounds. I quickly learned that my peers had expertise in different fields, which meant they may not approach problem solving the way I do and frequently contributed alternative ideas. Group activities were often a good challenge for growing in communication skills and the ability to facilitate different perspectives. A big takeaway lesson from R2R was that many diverse voices are required around the table to help find solutions in science.





First time offering of BIOL4/6093   Lichen Biology

This summer, the department offered a course on lichen biology during the second summer session.  Lichens are a symbiotic organism comprised of an algae (photobiont) and a fungus and commonly grow on trees, rocks and the soil.  Lichens are also indicators of environmental health; areas which have a greater amount of air pollution have a greater number of pollution-tolerant lichen species.  Pollution- sensitive lichens are found in areas that are less impacted by automobiles and other sources of pollution. Taught by Lynda Miller (College of the Ozarks), the students collected from the Edward J. Meeman Biological Station (Millington, TN), Shelby Farms Park (Memphis, TN), Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge (Turrell, AR 72384), and Ghost River State Natural Area (Moscow, TN).    Over the course of the two week course, 31 lichen species were identified! When asked if the course had been a good experience, one student replied "We were talking about that last night at the dorm – we think every student should have a course like this during their undergraduate years.” Visit the Meeman website and check out the lichens found at Meeman
Pictured:  On the left, the Lichen Biology class with instructor Lynda Miller (far left).  In the middle (top) a sample from the collection and in the middle (bottom), a ) student with his lichen collection. On the right, students collecting at the Ghost River section of the Wolf River. 



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