This cadre of incredible graduate students is examining applied and conceptual issues in ecology, restoration, and biodiversity conservation.
- Marit Wilkerson "My main dissertation research involves examining invasive plant patterns in conservation linkages or corridors. I have small and larger-scale projects that examine how characteristics of the matrix (i.e. the land surrounding the focal linkages) and the linkage itself may interact with the dispersal ecology of these invasive plants to produce spatially-distinct distribution patterns. The results of my work will help land managers determine strong potential influences on the invasive plants in their linkages and prioritize management efforts. In addition, I have field research on forb restoration in the Central Valley and indirect influences of wildlife and cattle herbivory on key pollinators in Kenya. I also have worked on other conservation-oriented projects including examining State Wildlife Action Plans with respect to wildlife connectivity conservation, assessing species and area vulnerability to climate change in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and preparing a peer-reviewed guide for graduate students on necessary skill sets for non-academic conservation careers." Marit is an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, and a member of the Conservation Management Program. Marit's website.
- Starry Sprenkle has initiated and continues to work with grass-roots agroforestry projects in Haiti, and is interested in the interface between ecology, environmental restoration, and sustainable development in the developing world. Starry is an NSF Graduate Research Fellow.
- Kevin Welch is doing his doctoral work on the landscape characteristics of post-fire pine and oak regeneration California, with grants he developed with the U.S. Forest Service.
- Jen Balachowski is interested in the ecological and evolutionary responses of native grasses to climate change, particularly in the context of ecotype performance for restoration projects. Jen is an NSF IGERT fellow.
- Emily Peffer "I am interested in how stream and riparian restoration may affect submersed aquatic plant communities. In the summer of 2011, I conducted a study on the influence of different levels of instream shade, which can be altered through the removal or re-planting of overstory riparian vegetation through restoration activities, influences the initial establishment of propagules of a native and an invasive submersed plant species (common elodea and Eurasian watermilfoil, respectively). In summer 2012, I began an experiment on how shade levels affect competition between these two species, and how priority (planting the native 4 weeks before the invasive) may also affect competitive outcomes. I am also monitoring the reestablishment and succession of aquatic plant communities following a stream channel realignment project on Putah Creek in Winters, CA, and hav conducted observational studies linking environmental factors (e.g., flow, light, substrate) with submersed plant species distributions." Emily is a member of the Conservation Management Program.
- Kelly Gravuer: "I seek to understand potential impacts of climate change on ecosystem functions of California grasslands by improving our knowledge of plant and soil microbial community ecology. I am specifically interested in the role of species turnover (local colonization and loss of species) and ecological context in shaping community responses. Broad questions under investigation include: (1) If climate change decouples currently co-occurring plants and microbes, how might ecosystem functions be affected? (2) Do plant and microbial community responses to interacting global changes have qualitatively similar magnitude and direction? (3) Are there cases in which microbial dispersal limitation may constrain adaptation of ecosystem function to climate change? I hope to apply these findings to management strategies for the maintenance of desired ecosystem functions as climate changes." Kelly is an NSF IGERT fellow.
- Derek Young Derek is interested in the ecology, management, and restoration of California forests in the face of climate change. Derek is an NSF Graduate Research Fellow and is an NSF IGERT fellow. Derek's Website.
- Laura Morales has been studying the Polylepis forest of alpine Andes in Peru, and is interested in continuing that work for her doctorate, as well as working in North America forests. Laura is an NSF Graduate Research Fellow.
- Mila Hickenbottom is interested in fire ecology of western forests and agricultural ecology in Central America.
- Steve Fick is interested in population and community processes in restoration, and is initiating restoration research in Canyonlands NP, Utah.
- Kristina Wolf "I am interested in restoring healthy soil and plant communities in semi-arid and arid climates via various methods, including livestock grazing. I am particularly interested in whole systems of ranch management that focus on grazing livestock while keeping the restoration or conservation of ecosystem functions in mind. My specific research interests range from the effects of different grazing regimes on soil health and plant community composition, to economically viable restoration and conservation methods that are feasible on a large landscape scale."
- Grace Charles joined the lab in the fall of 2012, with interests in species interactions. Grace is an NSF Graduate Research Fellow.
- Duncan Kimuyu (Ph.D. Student, University of Nairobi) has begun research into how wildlife use the anthropogenic savanna landscape in the context of experimental manipulations of livestock and fire.
- Francis Bozzolo(UCD/SDSU joint Ph.D. program) studies the microbial ecology of the endangered Coastal Sage Scrub ecosystem.
Past students (UC Davis, unless otherwise noted):
- Lauren McGeoch Porensky (Ph.D. 2012) "I link landscape and community ecology with conservation and restoration in rangelands, savannas and grasslands. Most of my work focuses on spatial patterns associated with plant and large herbivore communities. I am especially interested in finding conservation and restoration solutions for multi-use and human-dominated landscapes." Lauren is currently a post-doc with Beth Leger ar UNR.
- Kurt Vaughn (Ph.D. 2011) is a Restoration Manager for California Audubon.
- Corinna Riginos (Ph.D. 2008) studied shrub interactions in South Africa on a Fulbright Fellowship, and extended this research to more her doctoral studies of tree-understory interactions in Kenya; in particular, how these interactions are affected by herbivory and stand structure. Corinna is continuing her research in Kenya, with an emphasis on the management, restoration, and monitoring of rangeland health. She was the author and Project Leader of a USAID-funded research program on how cost-effective restoration can be a part of pastoral response to climate change in Africa, and is also a co-PI of the current NSF-funded KLEE grant. She is currently a post-doc with Jake Goheen at the University of Wyoming.
- Kari Veblen (Ph.D. 2008) is studying the causes and consequences of anthropogenic landscape heterogeneity in Kenya, and rangeland management and restoration in the western U.S. She did a postdoc with Dr. David Pyke of the USGS and Oregon State University, helping develop protocols to determine status of rangeland ecosystems for use by federal agencies. She is now an Assistant Professor at Utah State University, and a co-PI of the current NSF-funded KLEE grant.
- Jeffrey Clary (Ph.D. 2006) studied the relationship between annual and perennial plants in a restoration context, doing biogeographic and greenhouse studies in Catalonia and California. He currently works for the UC Davis Natural Reserve System.
- Mikaela Huntzinger (Ph.D. 2005) studied the interactions between herbivores of very different body sizes, as they relate to biodiversity conservation, in Kenya and California. She is Academic Developer and Teaching Consultant in the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at UC Davis.
- Megan Lulow (Ph.D. 2004) studied grassland restoration in California, particularly the importance of priority effects in community organization. Megan is currently the Senior Field Ecologist at the Irvine Ranch Conservancy.
- Michelle Gadd (Ph.D. 2003) studied the relationship between elephants and livestock on the land they share in Kenya and southern Africa. Most elephants occur outside of national parks, but this research is unique in examining the compatibility of pastoralists and elephants. Michelle is Africa Program Officer for the International Conservation Program of the USFWS.
- Todd Palmer (Ph.D. 2001) is the prime mover of the ongoing acacia ant study, begun in 1998. This project has explored how spatial variation in community structure is influenced by interactions between tree ontogeny, local nutrient conditions, and the competitive abilities of different ant species. His work has expanded to include other aspects of ant-acacia mutualisms, and savanna ecology in general. Todd is now an Associate Professor at the University of Florida.
- Linde Ostro (Ph.D. 1998, Fordham University) studied the ecology of reintroduced howler monkeys in Belize. Despite the prevalence of reintroduction as a species restoration technique, this study is one of the first to detail the ways in which reintroduced animals establish themselves in novel environments. Linde works for the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York.
- Faith Kostel-Hughes (Ph.D. 1995, Fordham University) has studied the interactions between leaf litter and forest seed banks along an urban-rural gradient, demonstrating dramatic and hitherto unrecognized changes in litter quantity and quality associated with urbanization, with important consequences for forest restoration. Faith is Director of Environmental Studies and Associate Professor at the College of New Rochelle.
- Wilfred Odadi (M.Sc., Moi University, 2005, Ph.D., Edgerton University, 2010) has been studying the ecology of livestock in the context of competition with native wildlife. He is doing postdoctoral research at Princeton University on improving rangeland practices in Kenya.
- Katherine Holmes (Ph.D. 2008, Advisor: Berry) studied the effects of invasive figs and their removal in Central Valley habitats. With Kari Veblen and Truman Young, she also studied the efffects of controlled burns on the survival of plants oaks and perennial grasses. She is currently the Restoration Projects Manager for the Solano County Resource Conservation District.
- Ryan Sensenig (Ph.D., 2007, Advisors: Laca & Demment) studied the ecology of fire in East Africa, particularly with respect to large mammals on the landscape scale. He is now an Assistant Professor at Goshen College.
- Bell Okello (Ph.D. 2007, University of Natal) examined the population biology of the dominant tree species at the KLEE study site in Kenya, in the context of conservation, restoration, management, and use. Bell is the Gender, Agricultural and Rural Development Specialist for the International Center for Research on Women, in Nairobi, Kenya.
- Simon Kuria Kamande (Ph.D., 2006, Rhodes University) studied the invertebrate fauna of Acacia drepanolobium, and how it is affected by the species of ant occupant and exposure to different herbivores. he is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Botany at Walter Sisulu University in South Africa
- Charles Warui (Ph.D. 2005, Rhodes University, South Africa) studied how invertebrates, especially spiders, may be indicators of the environmental health of East African savannas across a range of land uses. He is currently employed by the National Museums of Kenya.
- David Kinyua (dnf, University of Nairobi) studied the effects of different manipulations on rangeland plant communities, with some exciting results on techniques to effectively revegetate severely degraded landscapes. David works for USAID in Nairobi, and heads his own consulting firm, NAREDA.
- Alex Palmerlee (M.Sc., 2007) continues to examine the cost-effectiveness of multiple restoration techniques for woody species in rangeland and riparian sites. He was the Manager of the Audubon Bobcat Ranch, and conservation/restoration area in Yolo County, California, and now works in New Orleans.
- Tracy Erwin (M.Sc., 2007) examined recruitment limits to restoration in endangered Hawaiian trees.
- Mia Ingolia (M.Sc., 2006) examined the germination ecology of a threatened plant, the Tahoe Yellow Cress. Mia currently works for the UC Davis Arboretum while pursing her doctorate.
- Susan Infalt (M.Sc, 2006) studied the restoration of degraded, abandoned campsites in King's Canyon National Park. She currently works as a staff scientist for Garcia and Associates.
- Debbie Petersen (M.Sc. 2005) examined grassland restoration in California ecosystems where native annuals predominate, and in particular the beneficial effects of reseeding after fire. She is currently an Instructor at Las Positas College, and consulting restoration ecologist.
- Russell Huddleston (M.Sc., 2001) explored different soil modifications and planting techniques as they affected the restoration of grasslands in a vernal pool ecosystem in Oregon. Russ is a staff scientist for CH2M Hill in Sacramento.
- Ryan Deering (M.Sc., 2001) examined the potential for seed priming to shift the competitive balance between exotic annuals and native perennials in California grasslands. Ryan is the GATEways Horticulturist at the UC Davis Arboretum.
- Diana Hershey (M.Sc., 1999) carried out a study of the effects of soil substrate and plant provenance on ecological restoration along Cache Creek, California. Diana is a Planner for the County of Mendocino.
- Vanessa Ndoo (M.Sc. 2012, University of Nairobi) studied dung deposition and decomposition rates in Laikipia rangeland. She is currently a Project Officer for BirdLife International.
- Antony Kirigia (M.Sc. 2009, University of Nairobi) studied the economic and ecological consequences of manure exports from degraded rangelands. He now he works as Coordinator for the Mikinduri Children of Hope Foundation.
- Isaac Kimathi (M.Sc. 2008, University of Nairobi) examined the effects of fire on primary productivity in Laikipia grasslands. Isaac is a Deputy Research Manager for the Kenya Union for Savings and Credit Cooperatives, Ltd (KUSCCO).
- Silvanos Otieno (M.Sc. 2005, University of Nairobi) studied the effects of herbivory by different guilds of large mammals in Kenya on the productivity and standing biomass of a savanna ecosystem. Until his death, he worked as Coordinator for the Mikinduri Children of Hope Foundation.
- Wilfred Odadi (M.Sc. 2003, Moi University) studied the foraging ecology of cattle in Kenya, and how it is influenced by competition with native wildlife. He went on to earn a doctorate with KLEE at Egerton University, Kenya (see above).
- John Mugo Kagori (M.Sc. 1999, University of Nairobi) studied the ecology of nitrogen fixation in Acacia drepanolobium. He currently teaches in Nairobi.