Melissa K. Fierke | Environmental Biology | SUNY-ESF
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Melissa K. FierkeChair, Professor, and Director, Cranberry Lake Biological Station

Melissa Fierke

242 Illick Hall
1 Forestry Drive
Syracuse, NY 13210

315-470-6809 | 315-470-6743


  • B.S. Environmental Chemistry, B.S. Environmental Biology, Arkansas Tech University, Russellville, Arkansas.

  • M.S. Fisheries Science, M.S. Environmental Science (Water Resources), Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.
  • Ph.D. Entomology (Minor: Biology), University of Arkansas, 2006.

Research in my lab has largely focused on introduced forest insects, e.g., emerald ash borer or Sirex noctilio and their parasitoids, while other recently funded work includes landscape variables associated with black legged ticks (BLT) & prevalence of human diseases in BLTs, as well as pollinators associated with powerline rights of ways and across New York.

Prospective Students: If you are interested in becoming a part of our lab, please send an email indicating why as well as your CV, undergraduate coursework and GPA, and GRE percentile scores.

Current Graduate Advisees

Current Graduate Advisees

Timothy MorrisTimothy Morris

  • Degree Sought: PHD
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Fierke and Drake
  • Area of Study: Conservation Biology
  • Undergraduate Institution: Suny Binghamton

Personal Statement
I am currently a Ph.D student in the Fierke lab working on the long term biocontol of the emerald ash borer. As introduced parasitoids are established across New York State we must assess their ecological impacts over time. My current projects include assessing the distribution of biocontrol agents across the urban gradient, and constructing EAB lifetables in aftermath forests.

Graduate Research Topic
Emerald ash borer and associated parasitoids

Collaborations & Recent Research Highlights

becka brodie in field

Bekka Brodie

Ticks and Lyme Disease

Pollinators and Powerlines

Past Graduate Students

  • Molly Jacobson - MS Conservation Biology, May 2021: Response of wild pollinator assemblages to management of restored wetlands in central New York (co-MP Mike Schummer)
  • Xue Dong - MS Environmental Education and Interpretation, May 2020: Investigating impacts on visitors environmental attitudes and behavior through innovative interpretative media: A design-based research case study (co-MP Elizabeth Folta)
  • Skyler Susnick - MPS Ecology, May 2020: Surveying permanent sampling hemlock plot in the Finger Lake and Hudson Valley regions to monitor for hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae)
  • Abigail Jago - MS Entomology, December 2019: Understanding habitat effects on pollinator guild composition in New York State and the importance of community science involvement for long-term monitoring
  • McKenzie Wyborn - MS Ecology, December 2019: Habitat selection, prey preference, and population ecology of northern barrens tiger beetles in the Hudson Valley, New York (co-MP Dylan Parry)
  • Brittney Rogers - MS Environmental Education and Interpretation, August 2019: Using a train-the-trainer approach to maximize community science training capacity for the iMapInvasives certified trainers network
  • Jessica Van Splinter - MS Forest Resources Management, December 2018: A retrospective study assessing potential effects of powerline corridor vegetation management treatments on insect pollinator resources. (co-MP Chris Nowak)
  • Michael Jones - PhD Entomology, August 2018: Dispersal, phenology, and cold hardiness of emerald ash borer and its introduced parasitoids
  • Erica McPhail - MS Entomology, May 2018: Influence of vegetation management on pollinator assemblages on power line rights-of-way
  • Jade Johnson - MS Environmental Education and Interpretation, May 2018: High school wildlife education through a first job experience: an evaluation of Rosamond Gifford Zoo's ZooGuides Program (co-MP Elizabeth Folta) 
  • Anastasia Allwine - MPS Forest Technology, May 2018 (co-MP Rene' Germain)
  • Nick Piedemonte - MS F&W Management, May 2017: Black legged ticks, Ixodes scapularis (Say), in central NY: density, distribution, and prevalence of associated human pathogens (co-MP Steve Shaw)
  • Dana Brennan - MS Chemical Ecology, May 2017: Effects of sugar resources on longevity of two emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) parasitoids
  • Giuseppe Tumminello - MS Conservation Biology, December 2016: Insect pollinators of a short rotation coppice willow biomass agroecosystem (co-MP Tim Volk)
  • Jane Raffaldi - MPS Conservation Biology, December 2016: Co-occurring invasives and landowner awareness of invasive giant hogweed
  • Christopher Foelker - PhD Entomology, December 2015: Biotic resistance to Sirex noctilio acroass multiple spatial scales
  • Stephanie Nick - MPS Environmental Education and Interpretation, December 2015: Invasive species management through interpretation, education, and outreach: Creating an interpretive panel (co-MP Elizabeth Folta) 
  • Michael Parisio - MS Entomology, December 2014: Biological control of emerald ash borer: assessment and applications of current parasitoid monitoring methods
  • Joelle Chille-Cale - MPS Ecology, August 2014: New biological and cultural control methods of the non-native nursery pest Xylosandrus germanus (co-MP Chris Whipps) 
  • Gregory Russo - MPS Conservation Biology, May 2013: Monitoring and management of emerald ash borer in the eastern Finger Lakes region and Rochester, NY
  • Dominick Skabeikis - MS Chemical Ecology, May 2012: Male pheromone of the pine sawyer beetles, Monochamus scuellatus (Say) and Monochamus notatus (Drury) (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae): Production, response, and circadian rhythms (co-MP Steve Teale) 
  • Christopher Standley - MS F&W Management, April 2012: Emergence phenology and ecological interactions between the exotic Sirex noctilio, native siricids, and a shared guild of native parasitoids (co-MP Dylan Parry) 
  • Kimberly Dean - MS Entomology, April 2012: Parasitoids and pathogens of emerald ash borer: Implications for biological control at all life stages
  • Warren Hellman - MS Entomology, April 2011: Evaluating use of the native digger wasp Cerceris fumipennis (Say) as a sampling method for New York Buprestidae
  • Peter Rockermann - MS Entomology, April 2011: Implications for invasion by emerald ash borer in New York: Ash abundance in riparian areas and moth assemblages in upland and lowland forests with high and low ash densities
  • Patrick Eager - MS Entomology, April 2010: An analysis of the Sirex noctilio Fabricius (Hymenoptera: Siricidae) - parasitoid complex in New York State

Research Technicians


eva hanan
Eva Hanan

dylan mahalko
Dylan Mahalko

Shianne Lindsay


Past Research Technicians and UG Assistants

Christian Chevelier Emma Livingston Beth Newkirk
Tahnee Ames Alexa Stratton Ashmita Das
Shianne Lindsay Scott Kostka Hope Mahon
Brandon Halstein Dan Geoffroy Emma Kubinski
James Rittenhouse Devin Sullivan Chris Cruz
Trupti Indurkar Terrance Caviness Elise Matos
Rafael Rodrigues Igor Shiraishi Ian Newcomb
Dan Geoffroy Jacob Parr Ben Kosalek
Patrick Shaw (HS) Brigette Wierzbicki Jared Carpentier
Ryan Crandall Emily Proutey Brad Winkleman
John Welsh David Nesbit Richard Rich
Elizabeth Giglio David Bullis Funmi Afelumo
Elizabeth Keyser Rurick Fencl Katie Walters
Katie McKeever Greg Williams Candi Finger


Courses Taught


Google Scholar link: 

M.D. Wybron, M.D. Schlesinger, M.K. Fierke, J.L. Frair., D Parry. 2021. Estimating abundance and occupancy of northern barrens tiger beetles in an isolated New York population. Northeastern Naturalist. 28:156-168.

M.I. Jones, J. Gould, H. Mahon, M.K. Fierke. 2020. Phenology of emerald ash borer (Coleoptera: Buprestidae) and its introduced larval parasitoids in the northeastern United States. J Economic Entomology. 113: 622–632.

C Bondi, C Beier, MK Fierke, PK Ducey. 2019. Trophic ecology and nutrient assimilation of a terrestrial salamander (Plethodon cinereus) across a gradient of calcium availability in northern hardwood forests. Canadian J. Zoology.

J Clemons, MK Fierke. 2019. Empowering students to see themselves as part of institutional scholarship. Book Ch: In the Sandbox. Association of College and Research Libraries, American Library Association.

M.I. Jones, J. Gould, M.L. Warden, M.K. Fierke. 2019. Dispersal of emerald ash borer (Coleoptera: Buprestidae) parasitoids along a linear ash corridor in western New York. Biological Control. 128:94–101.

G Tumminello, T Volk, S McArt, MK Fierke. 2018. Maximizing pollinator diversity in willow biomass plantings: A comparison among willow sex and pedigrees. Biomass and Bioenergy. 117:124–130.

N Peidmonte, S Shaw, M Prusinski, MK Fierke. 2018. Landscape Features Associated with blacklegged tick (Acari: Ixodidae) density and tick-borne pathogen prevalence at multiple spatial scales in Central New York State. J. of Medical Entomology. 6:1496–1508.

CJ Foelker, MK Fierke, D Parry. 2018. Biotic resistance and the spatiotemporal distribution of an invading woodwasp, Sirex noctilio. Biological Invasions. 20: 1991–2003.

LM Hanks, JA Mongold-Diers, T Atkinson, MK Fierke, MD Ginzel, E Graham, TM Poland, A Richards, M Richardson, JG Millar. 2018. Blends of pheromones and host plant volatiles can attract multiple species of cerambycid beetles simultaneously. J of Economic Entomology. 111: 716–724.

JG Millar, RF Mitchell, JA Mongold-Diers, Y Zou, CE Bogran, MK Fierke, MD Ginzel, CW Johnson, JR Meeker, TM Poland, IR Ragenovich, LM Hanks. 2018. Identifying possible pheromones of cerambycid beetles by field testing known pheromone components in four widely separated regions of the United States. J of Economic Entomology. 111: 252–259.

MI Jones, JR Gould, MK Fierke. 2017. Mortality of overwintering emerald ash borer associated with an extreme cold event in New York State. Canadian Entomologist.  149: 482–486.

M Parisio, JR Gould, JD Vandenberg, L Bauer, MK Fierke. 2017. Evaluation of Recovery and Monitoring Methods for Parasitoids Released Against Emerald Ash Borer. Biological Control. 106: 45–53.

D Skabeikis, SA Teale, MK Fierke. 2016. Diel rhythms in Monochamus (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae): production of and response to a male-produced aggregation pheromone. Journal of Environmental Entomology. 45: 1017–1021.

D Skabeikis, MK Fierke, SA Teale. 2016. Field response of Monochamus scutellatus and Monochamus notatus (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) to the male-produced pheromone, 2-(Undecyloxy)-ethanol, and host volatiles. Journal of Economic Entomology. 109: 1220–1225.

CJ Foelker. 2016. Associations between Sirex noctilio development, bluestain fungi, and pine host species in North America. Ecological Entomology. 41: 676–684.

CJ Foelker, C Standley, D Parry, MK Fierke. 2016. Complex ecological relationships among an assemblage of indigenous hymenopteran parasitoids, the exotic woodwasp Sirex noctilio, and a native cogener. Canadian Entomologist. 148: 532–542.

CJ Foelker, C Standley, MK Fierke, D Parry, C Whipps. 2016. Host tissue identification for cryptic hymenopteran parasitoids associated with Sirex noctilio. Agric. and Forest Entomology. 18: 91–94.

CE Rutledge, MK Fierke, P Careless, C Teerling. 2015. Degree day model for emergence of Cerceris fumipennis in Northeastern America based on field observations. Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 108: 971–977.

MK Fierke, CJ Foelker. 2014. Scorpionflies: Unusual forest insects. New York Forest Landowner. 52: 3.

WE Hellman, MK Fierke. 2014. Evaluating buprestid preference and sampling efficiency of Cerceris fumipennis using morphometric data. J. Insect Science. 14: 4. 10.1093/jis/14.1.4

MK Fierke, M Whitmore, CJ Foelker, JD Vandenberg, J. Carlson. 2013. Delimitation and management of emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis (Coleoptera: Buprestidae), at an outlier infestation in southwestern New York State. Can. Entomol. 145: 577–587.

C Foelker, J Vandenberg, M Whitmore, MK Fierke. 2013. Modeling Agrilus planipennis (Coleoptera: Buprestidae) within-tree colonization patterns and development of a subsampling technique. Environ. Entomol. 42: 532–538.

CE Rutledge, MK Fierke, P.Careless, T Worthley. 2013. First detection of Agrilus planipennis in Connecticut made by monitoring Cerceris fumipennis (Crabronidae) colonies. Journal of Hymenoptera Research. 32: 75–81.

MK Fierke, DD Skabeikis, JG.Millar, SA Teale, JS McElfresh, LM Hanks. 2012. Identification of a male-produced aggregation pheromone for Monochamus scutellatus scuellatus and an attractant for the cogener Monochamus notatus (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae). J. Econ. Entomol. 105: 2029–2034.

L Haavik, D Crook, MK Fierke, L. Galligan, F. Stephen. 2012. Partial life tables from three generations of Enaphalodes rufulus (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae). Envir. Entomo. 41: 1311–1321.

C Standley, R Hoebeck, D Parry, D Allen, MK Fierke. 2012. Detection and identification of two new native hymenopteran parasitoids associated with exotic Sirex noctilio in North America. Proc. Entomol. Soc. Washington. 114: 238–249.

K Dean, J Vandenberg, M Griggs, L Beaur, MK Fierke. 2012. Assessing susceptibility of hymenopteran parasitoids of the emerald ash borer to the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana. J. Insect Pathology. 109: 303–306.

PT Eager, DC Allen, JL Frair, MK Fierke 2011. Within-tree distributions of the Sirex noctilio-parasitoid complex and development of an optimal sampling scheme. Envir. Entomol. 40: 1266–1275.

MK Fierke, D Nowak, R Hofstetter. 2011. Forest Health Monitoring. In Castello, J. and S. Teale (eds) Forest Health textbook. Cambridge Press.

C Rutledge, W Hellman, C Teerling, MK Fierke. 2011. Two novel prey families for the buprestid-hunting wasp Cerceris fumipennis Say (Hymenoptera: Crabonidae). Coleopterists Bulletin. The Coleopterists Bulletin. 65: 194–196.

MK Fierke, FM Stephen. 2010. Dendroentomological evidence associated with an outbreak of the wood-boring beetle Enaphalodes rufulus. Can. J. For. Res. 40: 679–686.

L Haavik, MK Fierke, FM Stephen. 2010. Factors affecting suitability of Quercus rubra as hosts for Enaphalodes rufulus (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae). Env. Entom. 39: 520–527.

MC Whitmore, MK Fierke. 2010. Emerald ash borer is now in New York. New York Forest Owner. 48: 14–15.

MB Kelley, MK Fierke, FM Stephen. 2009. Identification and distribution of Armillaria species associated with an oak decline event in the Arkansas Ozarks. J. For. Path. 39: 397–404.

S Scanga, MK Fierke. 2008. "Say goodbye to sleep": perspectives on building a family and a career at the same time.  Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 6: 448–449.

L Haavik, FM Stephen, MK Fierke, V. Salisbury, S. Leavitt, S. Billings. 2008. Dendrochronological parameters of northern red oak (Quercus rubra L. (Fagaceae)) infested with red oak borer (Enaphalodes rufulus (Haldeman) (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae)). For. Ecol. Manag. 255: 1501–1509.

MK Fierke, FM Stephen. 2008. Callus formation and bark moisture as potential physical defenses of northern red oak, Quercus rubra, against red oak borer, Enaphalodes rufulus (Haldeman) (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae). Can. Entomol. 140: 149–157.

MK Fierke, MB Kelley, FM Stephen. 2007. Site and Stand Variables Influencing Red Oak Borer, Enaphalodes rufulus, (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae), Population Densities and Tree Mortality. Forest Ecol. Manag. 247: 227–236.

MK Fierke, FM Stephen. 2007. Red Oak Borer (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) Flight Trapping in the Ozark National Forest, Arkansas. Florida Entomol. 90: 488–494.

DJ Crook, MK Fierke, DL Kinney, VB Salisbury, FM Stephen. 2007. Optimization of Sampling Methods for Within-tree Populations of Red Oak Borer, Enaphalodes rufulus (Haldeman) (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae). Environ. Entomol. 36: 589–594.

MK Fierke, JB Kauffman. 2006. Invasive species influence riparian plant diversity along a black cottonwood successional gradient, Willamette River, Oregon. Natural Areas J. 26: 376–382.

MK Fierke, JB Kauffman. 2006. Riverscape patterns of riparian plant diversity along a black cottonwood successional gradient, Willamette River, Oregon. Plant Ecol. 185: 85–95.

MK Fierke, DLKinney, VB Salisbury, DJ Crook, FM Stephen. 2005. A rapid estimation procedure for within-tree populations of red oak borer (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae). Forest Ecol. Manag. 215:163–168.

MK Fierke, DL Kinney, VB Salisbury, DJ Crook, FM Stephen. 2005. Development and comparison of intensive and extensive sampling methods and preliminary within-tree population estimates of red oak borer (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. Environ. Entomol. 34: 184–192.

MK Fierke, JB Kauffman. 2005. Structural dynamics of riparian forests along a black cottonwood successional gradient. Forest Ecol. Manag. 215: 149–162.

Professional Memberships

  • Entomological Society of America

Professional Service

Reviewer for Forest Ecology & Management, Journal of Insect Behavior, Environmental Entomology, Economic Entomology, Journal of Arboriculture & Urban Forestry, Canadian Entomologist, Canadian Journal of Forest Research, Journal of Chemical Ecology, Oecologia.

Honors and Awards

  • 2018/19 SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Faculty Service
  • 2014/15 President's Award for Public Service and Outreach, SUNY ESF
  • 2014 Program Cooperator Award, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Onondaga County
  • 2013/14 Distinguished Teacher Award, SUNY ESF's Undergraduate Student Association
  • 2013/14 President's Award for Public Service and Outreach, SUNY ESF
  • 2013 Utica College Womyn's Herstory Month Keynote Speaker: Aspiring to be an intential model: mother, scientist, mentor, and teacher
  • 2007 Roger F. Anderson Southern Forest Insect Work Conference Outstanding Graduate Student.
  • 2005 University of Arkansas Department of Entomology Isely Outstanding Ph.D student award.

Selected Presentations

M.K. Fierke. Aspiring to be an Intentional Model: Mother, Scientist, Mentor, and Teacher. Keynote Speaker, Utica College Womyn's Herstory Month. 3/2013.

M.K. Fierke, C. Rutledge. The Thin Green Line: Emerald Ash Borer in the Northeast. Eastern Branch Meeting, Entomological Society of America. 3/2013.

M.K. Fierke. Peeling, Splitting and Rearing to Know: emerald ash borer and Sirex noctilio research in New York State. Presented at multiple venues:

  • Hobart and Willim Smith Biology Seminar Series, 10/2014
  • SUNY Buffalo Graduate Seminar Series, 2/2014
  • SUNY New Paltz School of Science and Engineering Colloquium, 4/2014
  • Cornell University, Department of Entomology, Geneva Campus. 3/2012
  • Cornell University, Jugatae Seminar Series, Dept of Entomology, Ithaca NY. 2/2012
  • Utica College Biology Seminar Series, 10/2011

M.K. Fierke, K. Gandhi, M. Ayers. Sirex noctilio: biology, parasitism and native siricids. 5/2011. North American Forest Insect Work Conference. Portland, OR.

M.K. Fierke, P. Eager, C. Standley, D. Parry, D. Allen. Splitting and rearing to know: new insights into the siricid-parasitoid complex. Presented at multiple venues:

  • 5/2011, Sirex noctilio Research Updates Meeting, Riverdale, MD.
  • 3/2011, Eastern Branch Meeting of the Entomol. Soc. of America. Harrisburg, PA.
  • 1/2011, USDA Annual Interagency Research Forum on Invasive Species, Annapolis, MD.

M.K. Fierke, J. Vandenburg, M. Whitmore, J. Carlson. Girdling and peeling to know: emerald ash borer research in New York. Presented at multiple venues:

  • Eastern Branch Meeting of the Entomol. Soc. of America. 3/2011, Harrisburg, PA.
  • New York Society of American Foresters Annual Meeting, 1/2011, Syracuse NY.

M.K. Fierke, P. Eager, P. Rockermann, W. Hellman. 2009. Finding a niche in northeastern forest entomology – emerald ash borer and Sirex noctilio . Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America. Indianapolis, IN.

M.K. Fierke. 2008. Emerald Ash Borer: Status, Biology, Impacts and Current Research. Invasive Non-Native Forest Pest Conference, Ithaca NY.

M.K. Fierke, C. Landis, M. O’Brien, J. Riddle, N. Werner, R. Germain. 2008. Economic and ecological impacts of emerald ash borer and Sirex noctilio. Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America, Milwaukee, WI.

F. M. Stephen, M.K. Fierke, J. M Guldin, L.J. Haavik, J. J. Riggins and J. A. Tullis. 2008. Red oak borer as an agent of change in Arkansas forests: an historical perspective. International Congress of Entomology, Durban, South Africa.

M.K. Fierke, F.M. Stephen. 2008. Red oak borer research in upland oak-hickory forests. Eastern Branch meeting, Entomological Society of America, Syracuse NY, March 2008.