Melissa K. Fierke | Environmental and Forest Biology | SUNY-ESF
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
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Melissa K. FierkeAssociate Professor, Associate Chair, and Director, Cranberry Lake Biological Station

Melissa Fierke

135 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.

Graduate Opportunities

Currently projects include emerald ash borer & EAB parasitoids, density of black legged ticks & prevalence of Lyme disease, and pollinators (in willow biomass crops as well as along powerlines). 

If you are interested in becoming a part of our lab at ESF, please send me A) a short statement about yourself and your interests (background, goals/ambitions, reason(s) for your interest in ESF and why you would want to do research in my lab, as well as any questions you might have), B) a copy of your Curriculum Vitae, and C) your GPA and GRE scores (include the raw scores and percentages).

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Hope Mahon
Dan Geoffroy
Brandon Halstein


Odin Bernardo

Emma Kubinski

Lorenzo Natalie

Current Graduate Advisees

Graduate Advisees

Xue DongXue Dong

  • Degree Sought: PHD
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Folta and Fierke
  • Area of Study: Environmental Interpretation
  • Previous Graduate Study: Beijing Normal University (Curriculum and Instr)

Graduate Research
With the development of cloud computing, 4G communication and popularity of smart phones, QR codes have been used in our daily life in almost every aspect. Most of the traditional interpretive signs are incapable of providing a popular, direct and convenient way to meet young visitors’ needs about some exploratory topics. However, the applying of QR codes as the new interpretive media could deal with this problem effectively.

Abigail JagoAbigail Jago

  • Degree Sought: MS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Fierke
  • Area of Study: Entomology
  • Undergraduate Institution: Suny College Oswego (Zoology)

Favorite Quote
"I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of their dreams, and endeavors to live the life which they have imagined, they will meet with success unexpected in common hours." - Thoreau in Walden, or Life in the Woods (1854)

Timothy MorrisTimothy Morris

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

Personal Statement
I am currently a first year Master's student here at ESF working in the Fierke lab. I am currently working on projects related to the emerald ash borer, ash decline, and relevant parasitoids. I am extremely interested in work studying the long-term impacts of invasions; and any implications for management and restoration efforts. Ideally through this work I will be able to educate others and help design management efforts.

Graduate Research Topic
Emerald ash borer and associated parasitoids

Brittney RogersBrittney Rogers

  • Degree Sought: MPS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Fierke and Folta
  • Area of Study: Environmental Interpretation

Graduate Research Topic
Developing and implementing an iMapInvasives Trainers Network to help serve the needs of the invasive species network by training and retaining instructors across the state.

Jessica Van SplinterJessica Van Splinter

  • Degree Sought: MS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Nowak and Fierke
  • Area of Study: Natural Resources Mgt

Michelle VolkMichelle Volk

  • Degree Sought: MS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Fierke
  • Area of Study: Conservation Biology
  • Undergraduate Institution: SUNY College Plattsburgh (Ecology)

Web Link

Graduate Research Topic
Biological Control of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. This research is performed in collaboration with Cornell's New York State Hemlock Initiative, and made possible through a grant from the Edna Bailey Susan Foundation.

McKenzie WybronMcKenzie Wybron

  • Degree Sought: MS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Fierke and Parry
  • Area of Study: Ecology

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

Collaborations & Recent Research Highlights

Bekka Brodie

Ticks and Lyme Disease

Pollinators and Powerlines

Past Graduate Students

  • 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, 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
  • 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, 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, 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
  • 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

Past Research Technicians and UG Assistants

Brandon Halstein Dan Geoffroy Emma Kubinski
James Rittenhouse Devin Sullivan Chris Cruz
Trupti Indurkar Terrance Caviness Elise Matos
Rafael Rodrigues Canejo Igor Shiraishi Ian Newcomb
Dan Geoffroy Jacob Parr Ben Kosalek
Patrick Shaw (High School) 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


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

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

N Peidmonte, S Shaw, M Prusinski, MK Fierke. 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.

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

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

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

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

J.G. Millar, R.F. Mitchell, J.A. Mongold-Diers, Y. Zou, C.E. Bogran, M.K. Fierke, M.D. Ginzel, C.W. Johnson, J.R. Meeker, T.M. Poland, I.R. Ragenovich, L.M. 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.

M.I. Jones, J. Gould, M.K. 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, J.R. Gould, J.D. Vandenberg, L. Bauer, M.K. Fierke. 2017. Evaluation of Recovery and Monitoring Methods for Parasitoids Released Against Emerald Ash Borer. Biological Control. 106: 45–53.

D. Skabeikis, S.A. Teale, M.K. 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, M.K. Fierke, S.A. 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.

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

C.J. Foelker, C. Standley, D. Parry, M.K. 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.

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

C.E. Rutledge, M.K. 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.

M.K. Fierke, C.J. Foelker. 2014. Scorpionflies: Unusual forest insects. New York Forest Landowner. 52: 3.

W. E. Hellman, M.K. Fierke. 2014. Evaluating buprestid preference and sampling efficiency of Cerceris fumipennis using morphometric data. J. Insect Science. 14: 4.

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

C.E. Rutledge, M.K. 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.

M.K. Fierke, D.D. Skabeikis, J.G. Millar, S.A. Teale, J.S. McElfresh, L.M. 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, M.K. 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, M.K. 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, M.K. Fierke. 2012. Assessing susceptibility of hymenopteran parasitoids of the emerald ash borer to the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana. J. Insect Pathology. 109: 303–306.

P.T. Eager, D.C. Allen, J.L. Frair, M.K. Fierke 2011. Within-tree distributions of the Sirex noctilio-parasitoid complex and development of an optimal sampling scheme. Envir. Entomol. 40: 1266–1275.

M.K. 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, M.K. Fierke. 2011. Two novel prey families for the buprestid-hunting wasp Cerceris fumipennis Say (Hymenoptera: Crabonidae). Coleopterists Bulletin. The Coleopterists Bulletin. 65: 194–196.

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

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

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

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

Scanga, S., M.K. 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, F. Stephen, M.K. 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.

M.K. Fierke, F.M. 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.

M.K. Fierke, M.B. Kelley, F.M. 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.

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

D.J. Crook, M.K. Fierke, D.L. Kinney, V.B. Salisbury, F.M. Stephen. 2007. Optimization of Sampling Methods for Within-tree Populations of Red Oak Borer, Enaphalodes rufulus (Haldeman) (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae). Environ. Entomol. 36: 589–594.

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

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

M.K. Fierke, Kinney, D.L., Salisbury, V.B., Crook, D.J., and Stephen, F.M. 2005. A rapid estimation procedure for within-tree populations of red oak borer (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae). Forest Ecol. Manag. 215:163–168.

M.K. Fierke; D. L. Kinney; V. B. Salisbury; D. J. Crook; F. M. 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.

M.K. Fierke, J.B. 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

  • 2014 President's Award for Public Service and Outreach, SUNY ESF
  • 2014 Program Cooperator Award, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Onondaga County
  • 2013 Distinguished Teacher Award, SUNY ESF's Undergraduate Student Association
  • 2013 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.