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Ecology Area of Study for M.S., M.P.S. or Ph.D. in Environmental and Forest Biology

ecology Apply

This integrative study area allows students to investigate the relationships of organisms to their environment and those factors that affect their distribution and abundance. Both the practical and theoretical applications of ecology are emphasized through courses and research.

There are four major areas in ecology: organismal ecology, population-evolutionary ecology, community ecology and systems ecology. In consultation with the student’s steering committee, courses are chosen from these areas, as well as other disciplines. Specific research may encompass any of the four major areas of ecology and entail the study of the distribution and abundance of organisms, community structure including trophic relationships, diversity, succession and ecosystem properties, such as patterns of energy transfer and biogeochemical cycling.

Participating Faculty

  • Jerrold L. Belant; jbelant@esf.edu
    wildlife ecology and management, carnivore conservation, human-wildlife conflicts, ecological plasticity, international conservation
  • Martin Dovciak; mdovciak@esf.edu
    Plant Ecology, Forest Ecosystems, Biodiversity, Global Change, Ecosystem Management and Restoration
  • Shannon Farrell; sfarrell@esf.edu
    Wildlife ecology, wildlife-habitat relationships, management planning for endangered and threatened species, human impacts on wildlife, ecosystem services, endangered species act policy innovations, birds, bats
  • John M. Farrell; jmfarrell@esf.edu
    aquatic ecology, fisheries science & management, freshwater coastal wetlands, St. Lawrence River studies & Great Lakes, invasive species, restoration
  • Danilo D. Fernando; dfernando@esf.edu
    plant structure and development, reproductive biology of conifers, pollen transformation, genomics and proteomics of pine pollen tube development, willow flowering and tissue culture, genetic diversity of rare and endangered ferns, and plant evolution, diversity and conservation.
  • Melissa K. Fierke; mkfierke@esf.edu
    forest entomology, forest ecology, invasive forest pests, insect-tree interactions, tree defenses
  • Jacqueline Frair; jfrair@esf.edu
    wildlife ecology and management, ecology of large herbivores and predators, animal movements, resource selection, population demography, quantitative methods in conservation, landscape ecology
  • James Gibbs; jpgibbs@esf.edu
    herpetology, vertebrate conservation biology, genetics and ecology in birds, reptiles and amphibians, songbirds, giant tortoise, statistics, wildlife population monitoring, galapagos islands, conservation biology, ecological monitoring, population genetics, applied demography, undergraduate conservation education
  • Thomas R. Horton; trhorton@esf.edu
    mycorrhizal plant ecology, molecular ecology, ecology, fungal communities, mycology, fire ecology
  • Robin W. Kimmerer; rkimmer@esf.edu
    plant restoration ecology, bryology, bryoecology, restoration ecology, ethnobotany, conservation biology and bryophyte ecology, traditional ecological knowledge
  • Donald J. Leopold; djleopold@esf.edu
    forest and freshwater wetland ecology, conservation, and restoration, peatland ecology and conservation, local and regional controls of species richness and rarity, dynamics of plant communities as affected by man and environment, management for unique communities and rare species, dendrology, native plants, restoration ecology, rare species conservation
  • Brian F. Leydet; bfleydet@esf.edu
    infectious and vector-borne diseases, arthropods of veterinary and medical importance, vector biology, vector-pathogen-host interactions, disease ecology, molecular biology, epidemiology of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases
  • Karin E. Limburg; klimburg@esf.edu
    riverine fish and estuarine ecology, fisheries ecology, watershed ecology, systems ecology, ecological economics, fisheries and ecosystem science, coupled human-natural systems, biogeochemistry, fisheries ecology, ecosystem ecology, biogeochemical tracers, modeling
  • Mark V. Lomolino; island@esf.edu
    conservation biology, wildlife, ecology, evolution and biogeography
  • Gregory McGee; ggmcgee@esf.edu
    ecology, management and restoration of forest ecosystems; STEM education
  • Stacy A. McNulty; smcnulty@esf.edu
    forest ecology, phenology, vertebrate ecology. exploration of long-term changes, biodiversity conservation, and relationship of human land use planning, recreation, and forest management to ecosystem function in the northern forest.
  • Myron J. Mitchell; mitchell@esf.edu
    biogeochemistry, environmental energetics
  • Dylan Parry; dparry@esf.edu
    Biological invasion, climate change, and conservation, primarily in the context of insects in forested ecosystems.
  • Neil H. Ringler; nhringle@esf.edu
    fish ecology and behavior, foraging behavior of fishes, salmon reproduction, vertebrate anatomy, aquatic insect ecology, stream ecology and management, aquatic and fisheries restoration, aquatic entomology
  • Rebecca Rundell; rrundell@esf.edu
    evolutionary biology, conservation biology, speciation, adaptive and nonadaptive radiations, biogeography, phylogenetics, systematics, Pacific island radiations and biodiversity conservation, land snails, marine/aquatic microscopic invertebrates
  • Kimberly L. Schulz; kschulz@esf.edu
    nutrient and exotic species effects on aquatic ecosystems, ecological stoichiometry, aquatic community and ecosystem ecology, bioenergetics, nutrient cycling, lower food web studies, great lakes, finger lakes, plankton, limnology, aquatic ecology, biogeochemistry, invasive species
  • Michael L. Schummer; mlschumm@esf.edu
    Waterfowl Ecology, Waterfowl Management, Waterfowl Conservation, Wetlands Management, Wetlands Conservation, Ornithology, Plant-Animal Associations, Conservation Biology, Wildlife Ecology, Wetlands Ecology, Wildlife-habitat relationships, ecology, climate change, human dimensions of wildlife, avian toxicology
  • William M. Shields; wshields@esf.edu
    animal behavior, evolution and genetics, evolution of animal communication and dispersal systems, effects of genetic constraints on the evolution of social behavior, sociobiology and behavioral ecology, the use of DNA in identity testing and conservation biology, the interface between science and the law, conservation theory, behavior in birds and mammals, forensic DNA analysis
  • John C. Stella; stella@esf.edu
    riparian and stream ecology, restoration ecology, watershed management, ecological modeling, tree-ring science, river restoration, arid-land and Mediterranean ecosystems
  • Donald Stewart; djstewart@esf.edu
    ecology and systematics, lake systems ecology, aquatic ecology, fish conservation, ecology and population biology in tropical and temperate systems, fish ecology and fisheries management, ecological energetics, modeling predation and production processes, Great Lakes ecosystems, Amazonian ecosystems, ecology and systematics of neotropical freshwater fishes
  • J. Scott Turner; jsturner@esf.edu
    animal physiology, physiological ecology, thermal energetics, biology of body size, physiology of gas exchange
  • Alexander Weir; aweir@esf.edu
    conservation mycology, fungal biodiversity and conservation, fungal-arthropod interactions, biology of parasites and symbionts, systematics and evolutionary biology of fungi, fungi and humans, biology of parasites and symbionts

Current Graduate Students in Ecology


Current Students Only currently registered students appear — new names appear at start of academic year


David Aronson

dearonso@syr.edu
Ecology
Degree Sought: MS
Advisor(s): McGee


Monica Bibiana Berdugo Moreno

Monica Bibiana Berdugo Moreno

mbberdug@syr.edu
Ecology
Degree Sought: PHD
Advisor(s): Dovciak
Undergraduate Institution: Universidad Nacional de Colombia (Biology)

Previous Graduate Study: Universidad del Pais Vasco (Environmental Science)

Graduate Research Topic
Forest ecology and mosses



David Bullis

dbullis@syr.edu
Ecology
Degree Sought: PHD
Advisor(s): Rundell

Graduate Research Topic
I am interested in reconstructing the phylogenetic history and shell evolution of endodontoid land snails in the Western Pacific.



Sarah-Jayne Collins

Sarah-Jayne Collins

scolli06@syr.edu
Ecology
Degree Sought: PHD
Advisor(s): Farrell
Undergraduate Institution: University of the West of Engl (Animal Science)

Previous Graduate Study: Bangor University (Ecology )

Graduate Research Topic
Fall swarming and spatial ecology of bat species in coastal Massachusetts, with a particular focus on the federally listed Northern long eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis).



Robert Curry

rbcurry@syr.edu
Ecology
Degree Sought: MS
Advisor(s): Farrell


Allison Devlin

Allison Devlin

aldevlin@syr.edu
Ecology
Degree Sought: PHD
Advisor(s): Frair
Undergraduate Institution: Cornell University (Animal Sciences)

Previous Graduate Study: Columbia U Sch General Studies (Cons Bio )

Graduate Research Topic
Working thesis title: "Population Persistence of Jaguar (Panthera onca) in the Brazilian Pantanal" - Quantify and predict comparative density, resource use, and demography of jaguar residing in two working cattle ranches and two protected areas in the world's largest inland wetland, the Pantanal (MT, MS, Brazil). Collaborations include: SUNY ESF; Panthera; and ICMBio (Chico Mendes Institute for the Conservation of Biodiversity). Specifically within ICMBio, close collaboration with CENAP (National Research Center for Carnivore Conservation).



Shannon Finnegan

Shannon Finnegan

spfinneg@syr.edu
Ecology
Degree Sought: PHD
Advisor(s):
Undergraduate Institution: Liverpool John Moores Universi (Zoology)

Previous Graduate Study: Nottingham Trent University (MRes Biodiversity Conservation )

Links
Web Link

Personal Statement
My prior research has largely been focused on jaguar ecology and conservation in Brazil. For my Masters research I studied how environmental factors and interspecific interactions affect carnivore coexistence in the Brazilian Pantanal. I have been a member of the Jaguar Conservation Fund for a number of years where I assisted with long term monitoring projects in two biomes of Brazil; additionally I worked with a tiger conflict mitigation project in India and assisted with research on a large carnivore project in South Africa. My research interests include large carnivore ecology, conflict mitigation and conservation

Graduate Research Topic
Brown bear and elk resource use in relation to timber harvest on Afognak Island, Alaska



Loga Fixico

lfixico@syr.edu
Ecology
Degree Sought: MS
Advisor(s): Kimmerer


Nicholas Fowler

nlfowler@syr.edu
Ecology
Degree Sought: PHD
Advisor(s):


Kurt Gielow

Kurt Gielow

khgielow@syr.edu
Ecology
Degree Sought: MS
Advisor(s): Farrell
Undergraduate Institution: University of Florida (Wildlife Ecology and)

Graduate Research Topic
I am currently developing a research project that aims to investigate population dynamics and abundance of American Robins on a rural to urban gradient. I plan to conduct research on the ecology of these birds, looking at their distribution on a broad to local scale and gain insight into their role in wildlife diseases such as Lyme disease. With this research, we will hopefully expand the knowledge of birds as part of the pathogen-vector-host cycle in the distribution and dispersal of ticks.

Favorite Quote
"A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise." - Aldo Leopold



Suzanne Greenlaw

segreenl@syr.edu
Ecology
Degree Sought: MS
Advisor(s): Kimmerer
Undergraduate Institution: University of Maine Presque Isle (Environmental Science)


Kristen Haynes

Kristen Haynes

krhaynes@syr.edu
Ecology
Degree Sought: PHD
Advisor(s): Leopold
Undergraduate Institution: Cornell University

Personal Statement
My research applies genetic techniques to the question of species' vulnerability to climate change, focusing on two rare taxa endemic to the alpine zone of New York and New England: Nabalus boottii and Nabalus trifoliolatus var. nanus.

Graduate Research Topic
Conservation of the Northeast Alpine Zone in the face of rapid environmental change.



Meredith Kane

Meredith Kane

mlkane@syr.edu
Ecology
Degree Sought: MS
Advisor(s): Kimmerer
Undergraduate Institution: St Lawrence University (Biology)

Links
Web Link

Graduate Research Topic
Understory forest ecology in post-agricultural secondary forests in central New York.



ZI XUN KUA

ZI XUN KUA

zkua01@syr.edu
Ecology
Degree Sought: MS
Advisor(s): Farrell and Stella
Undergraduate Institution: Ohio State University of Columbus (Evolution and Ecolog)

Graduate Research Topic
For my Masters research, I am studying the effects of water regulation changes on aquatic wetland community of the St. Lawrence River at the Thousand Islands Biological Station (TIBS) following the implementation of Plan 2014. The main objectives of the study will focus on the hydrologic fluctuation effects on muskrat occupancy and the subsequent interactive effects of muskrat disturbances on the aquatic community.



Toby Liss

Toby Liss

trliss@syr.edu
EFB Conservation Biology
Degree Sought: PHD
Advisor(s): Leopold

Graduate Research Topic
Marginal plant species for use on green roofs and the effects of species composition on green roof functioning for stormwater reduction

Undergraduate Study
University of Pittsburgh (Ecology and Evolution, Linguistics)

Social Media
@mslissecologist on Instagram and Twitter



Kapil Mandrekar

kmandrek@syr.edu
Ecology
Degree Sought: PHD
Advisor(s): Stewart
Undergraduate Institution: Albion College (Biology)

Previous Graduate Study: Arkansas State University of St Univ (Biology )



Leah Nagel

Leah Nagel

lnagel@syr.edu
Ecology
Degree Sought: MS
Advisor(s): Gibbs
Undergraduate Institution: Middlebury College

Personal Statement
Depending on the day, I identify as an aquatic ecologist and/or herpetologist with a particular interest in aquatic community ecology and the role of citizen science in conservation research and community-based conservation efforts. For my Master’s, I am focusing on vernal pools—small, temporary wetlands that dry out frequently enough to impact both the physical processes and the aquatic community within the pool—and the predation-vulnerable amphibians that use them as nurseries for their young. My research focuses on assessing which factors most strongly influence wood frog and spotted salamander survival in central New York State.

Graduate Research Topic
The effects of vernal pool heterogeneity on amphibian survival

Favorite Quote
“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” –Aldo Leopold



Teresa Rose Osborne

Teresa Rose Osborne

trosborn@syr.edu
Ecology
Degree Sought: PHD
Advisor(s): Rundell
Undergraduate Institution: Pomona College


Web Link

Graduate Research Topic
I study how phylogenetic history, microhabitat characteristics, and interspecific competition influence body size evolution in diplommatinid land snails of the Belau archipelago (Republic of Palau, Oceania). I am also interested in gastropod terrestrialization events, possible preadaptations to habitat transitions, and land snail conservation.

Lab Website
Web Link



Taylor Patterson

Taylor Patterson

trpatter@syr.edu
Ecology
Degree Sought: MS
Advisor(s): Horton
Undergraduate Institution: University Of Kansas

Graduate Research Topic
I'm studying the use of ectomycorrhizal fungi to improve restoration of pitch pine in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. Preserve managers have been removing invasive black locust trees and reintroducing periodic fires to reestablish the native pitch pine - scrub oak communities. I hope to provide a tool to promote successful establishment of pitch pines in previously invaded areas.



Lisanne Petracca

Lisanne Petracca

lspetrac@syr.edu
Ecology
Degree Sought: PHD
Advisor(s): Frair
Undergraduate Institution: Tufts University (Environmental Science)

Previous Graduate Study: Duke University (Environmental Science)

Personal Statement
I have been involved in the conservation of felids (big cats) since 2008, when I conducted fieldwork in Belize for the nonprofit wild cat conservation organization Panthera. Panthera hired me as their full-time Geospatial Analyst in 2010, a role that has given me invaluable experience in the statistical analysis of data from camera traps, spoor surveys, and interviews to model felid space use and distribution. I continue to work for Panthera as I pursue my Ph.D. at SUNY-ESF, in close collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) at Oxford University.

Graduate Research Topic
Spatial and foraging ecology of felids in human-dominated landscapes

Favorite Quote
"What is absolute, enduring, and irreplaceable is the primordial nourishment of our psyches afforded by a quiet walk in an ancient forest or the spectacle of a thousand snow geese against a blue sky on a crisp winter day. There are no substitutes for these things, and if they cease to exist, all the money in the world will not bring them back.” -John Terborgh, Requiem for Nature



Alex Petzke

apetzke@syr.edu
EFB Conservation Biology
Degree Sought: PHD
Advisor(s): Leopold


Margaret Roberts

mrobe101@syr.edu
Ecology
Degree Sought: PHD
Advisor(s): Dovciak


Jordon Tourville

Jordon Tourville

jtourvil@syr.edu
Ecology
Degree Sought: PHD
Advisor(s): Dovciak
Undergraduate Institution: University of Vermont (Biology)

Previous Graduate Study: University of Michigan Ann Arbor* (Natural Resources an)

Graduate Research Topic
Effects of tree species responses to global environmental changes and biotic controls on tree species distributions in the northeastern United States.



Justine Weber

Justine Weber

juweber@syr.edu
Ecology
Degree Sought: PHD
Advisor(s): Leopold

Graduate Research Topic
Rare plant ecology and conservation: my dissertation focuses on the conservation of federally-listed Houghton's goldenrod (Oligoneuron houghtonii). I am also working with Dr. Sara Scanga (Utica College) to monitor population trends of globally rare Trollius laxus in upstate NY.

Twitter
@Justine_Weber



Maxwell Wilder

mwilde01@syr.edu
Ecology
Degree Sought: PHD
Advisor(s): Green

Graduate Research Topic
My research focuses on the development and application of environmental DNA (eDNA) detection methods to aid in conservation efforts for species difficult and/or costly to monitor using traditional techniques. By incorporating molecular approaches into conservation efforts, the limited resources available to manage focal species can be used more efficiently. Currently, my eDNA projects focus on bog turtles and river otter.



McKenzie Wybron

McKenzie Wybron

mdwybron@syr.edu
Ecology
Degree Sought: MS
Advisor(s): Fierke and Parry

Graduate Research Topic
Dispersal and habitat selection of the rare Northern Barrens Tiger Beetle (Cicindela patruela Dejean) to facilitate a management plan.