DNR Ph.D. Candidate Laura Jane Martin Named as a 2015 Harvard University Environmental Fellow

Department of Natural Resources Ph.D. candidate Laura Jane Martin has been named one of seven 2015 Harvard University Environmental Fellows. This fall she will join the Harvard University Environmental Center and the Harvard Department of the History of Science for a two year postdoc.

“The Harvard University Center for the Environment extends a warm welcome to the newest class of Environmental Fellows: Sebastian D. Eastham, Evan Herrnstadt, Melissa E. Kemp, Brian Lander, Daniel Madigan, Laura Martin and Gillian Osborne. These fellows will join a group of remarkable scholars who will be beginning the second year of their fellowships. Together, the Environmental Fellows at Harvard will form a community of researchers with diverse backgrounds united by intellectual curiosity, top-quality scholarship, and a drive to understand some of the most important environmental challenges facing society.”


(Above: Laura Martin, one of seven 2015 Harvard University Environmental Fellows)

“Civic Ecology: Integrating Social and Environmental Sciences”

Dr. Marianne Krasny recently contributed to the NOVA Science Education Series in the form of an “Earth Day” blog post. In her post, she discusses the ways in which people unite to help steward and protect their local environments. She explores the ways in which civic ecology practices encourage both environmental stewardship and socio-ecological resilience in communities and neighborhoods. The combination of these two concepts creates stronger community bonds and fosters environmental consciousness.

Dr. Krasny writes, “When students learn about the environment, it’s almost always bad news. We teach our students how humans have contaminated our waterways, carved up rainforests, greedily extracted mineral resources, and introduced foreign insects that kill off native trees. Sadly, all of this and more is true.

But scientists at Cornell University’s Civic Ecology Lab are offering a counter perspective to viewing humans solely as destroyers of the environment. We are examining how humans in cities and elsewhere are caring for—restoring and stewarding—local nature. We study how people come together to create community gardens, reintroduce oysters to the New York City estuary, and clean up local parks and cemeteries.”

Read Dr. Krasny’s full article here:“Civic Ecology: Integrating Social and Environmental Sciences”

CBFS and DNR scientists work with Global Lake Temperature Collaboration

Cornell Biological Field Station and Department of Natural Resources scientists are part of the Global Lake Temperature Collaboration (GLTC), an international group assembled to provide increased access to global lake temperature records including Oneida Lake. The GLTC group recently published an article summarizing a new lake temperature database in the journal Scientific Data, which is published by Nature (http://www.nature.com/sdata/). The GLTC project has recognized that a new global database of lake surface temperatures was needed, including not only satellite data, but also “on the ground” measurements from in situ data collection programs. Since its inception in 2010, the GLTC initiative has grown to a database of 291 lakes and reservoirs worldwide, providing summer-mean lake surface temperatures from 1985-2009, and roughly doubling the amount of data previously available from satellites alone. This new dataset represents the first publicly available global compilation of in situ and satellite-based lake surface temperature data. The GLTC database also provides information on climatic drivers (air temperature, solar radiation, cloud cover), as well as geomorphometric characteristics that may affect lake temperature (latitude, longitude, elevation, lake surface area, maximum depth, mean depth, volume). This unique, global dataset will offer an invaluable baseline perspective on lake thermal conditions for ongoing and future studies of environmental change


It is now widely recognized that global and regional climate change has important implications for terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Recently published studies, for example, have revealed significant warming of lakes and reservoirs throughout the world. This has been evident not only in studies of individual lakes at specific sites (i.e., from “in situ” datasets), but especially in broader, satellite-based studies of lake surface temperature trends. Remarkably, these previous studies have also found that the observed rate of lake warming is sometimes greater than that of ambient air temperature. These rapid, unprecedented changes in lake temperature have profound implications for lake mixing, hydrology, productivity, and biotic communities.

Given the results of these previous studies and the observed rapid warming of lakes – as well as the important ecological and hydrologic implications – there has been a significant need to assemble and synthesize global records of lake temperature from both in situ and remotely sensed data sources. In response to this, the Global Lake Temperature Collaboration (GLTC; http://www.laketemperature.org/), which began in late 2010, brought together an international group of investigators with interest in and access to global lake temperature records. Since the initiation of this effort, which started as a small group of 10 people from three countries, the GLTC project has now grown to over 70 investigators from 20 countries worldwide.

Throughout the development of the GLTC project, it has been recognized that a truly global database of lake surface temperatures needed to go beyond just the satellite records and include a diverse array of “on the ground” measurements from in situ data collection programs, such as those coordinated through the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON). The inclusion of both in situ and satellite-based records in the GLTC effort was, in fact, deemed essential – due to the value that each source of data brings to the table. On the one hand, remotely sensed measurements of lake surface temperature provide good geographic coverage of many of the world’s largest lakes, with most data going back to 1985. In situ data, on the other hand, fill some of the gaps left by the satellite record by providing temperature data for lakes that are too small to be “visible” by satellite. Many of the in situ records also go further back in time, and a few even provide information on vertical temperature profiles.

The GLTC initiative has now assembled a database of summer-mean lake surface temperature for 291 lakes and reservoirs around the world, roughly doubling the amount of data previously available from satellite alone. This initial GLTC database – now published in Scientific Data – focuses on the period 1985-2009 due to the abundance of both satellite and in situ data. It represents the first global compilation of in situ and satellite-based lake surface temperature data and is publicly available to the broader community for analysis and interpretation. In addition to lake surface temperature, the GLTC database also provides information on climatic drivers at each lake site (air temperature, solar radiation, and cloud cover), as well as geomorphometric characteristics that may influence lake temperature (latitude, longitude, elevation, lake surface area, maximum depth, mean depth, and volume). Future iterations of the GLTC database are anticipated to include additional lakes, longer time periods, and vertical temperature profile data. This unique, global dataset will offer an invaluable, baseline perspective on lake thermal conditions in our ever-changing global climate.

Cornell team works to develop ecological corridors in the Andes

ecuador team


From left, Rich Bernstein, Chris Wood, Santiago Molina, Carla Gomes, Angela Fuller, Andy Royle, Jeff Mecham, Greg Poe visit a cloud forest in Ecuador. (Photo and caption from this article)



A Cornell team is working in the Andes Mountain range in Ecuador to help create a socio-ecological corridor that will aid in protecting a variety of species, including the Andean bear. The team is led by Angela Fuller, assistant professor for the Department of Natural Resources and leader of the New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Cornell.

Ecuador’s mountains host an enormous range of animal and plant species and are important biodiversity hotspots. Unfortunately, many threatened and endangered species such as the Andean bear are being displaced due to deforestation and forest fragmentation from the spread of cattle ranching and agriculture. At-risk species including jaguars, pumas, margays, ocelots, endemic bird and amphibian species, and even a rare type of orchid.

The team’s goal is to study the bears’ movements and resource-use patterns to help identify the best location for an ecological corridor. Since the bears’ habitat overlaps with many other threatened Ecuadorian species, the corridors will benefit the entire ecosystem.

The team is also working closely with local stakeholders to minimize any potential economic or social effects from the placement of the corridor.

“Local communities still need to engage in activities that provide income,” Fuller said. “So there are many creative ways we can think about activities that are compatible with conservation, while still providing income.”

Check out the full article on the project here!

Marianne Krasny becomes a blog contributor for the Huffington Post

Congratulations to Dr. Marianne Krasny for becoming a contributor to the Huffington Post blog. Krasny is a Professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Director of the Civic Ecology Lab at Cornell. She received this blogging position as a result of the Public Voices Fellowship.

Krasny’s first Op-Ed piece, 7 People Who Care for Nature and Community, was published early this week. In her post, she discusses seven influential people who have made positive environmental changes in their communities.

Read the full blog post here and stay tuned for more articles from Dr. Krasny in the near future!

Guest column in The Hill by Amanda Rodewald

Department of Natural Resources Associate Professor Amanda Rodewald recently had a guest column published in The Hill, an insider Washington, D.C. newspaper. Rodewald is also director of conservation science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, faculty fellow at Cornell University’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, and a Robert F. Schumann Faculty Fellow. Her column, “National and environmental security, two sides of the same coin”, discusses the complex relationship between climate change and national security. Rodewald argues that “One of the most important things we can do to meet our national security objectives and advance political stability, human health, economic development and peace around the world is to recognize — and act in ways reflecting this — that a healthy planet is a critical part of the policy equation.”

Read Rodewald’s full article here!

Mary Fisher receives Distinguished Student Researcher Award

Congratulations to Mary Fisher for receiving the School for Field Studies Distinguished Student Researcher Award!

Mary Fisher is a Natural Resources major with a minor in Marine Biology. She is currently working on her honors research with Dr. Matthew Hare and is looking forward to attending graduate school this coming fall.

“I have always wanted to contribute to research for conservation and management, and became convinced that I wanted to do so in marine ecosystems after my experiences at Cornell’s Shoals Marine Lab and at SFS,” said Fisher.

Fisher was selected for the School for Field Studies (SFS) Distinguished Student Researcher award based on her research project Ecological Knowledge in a Data-Deficient Fishery: Using FEK to Explore and Quantify Long Term Changes in the Queen Conch (Strombus gigas) and Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus) Fisheries of South Caicos, the Turks and Caicos Islands. Her work plays a key role in the SFS Center for Marine Resource Studies’ Five-Year Research Plan by addressing one of their key research questions: “What is the present status of commercially and ecologically important marine organism stocks?” Fisher’s research suggests that some inshore fisheries may be more heavily exploited than previously thought, which has profound implications for TCI fisheries management.

For her research, Fisher conducted interviews with fishermen on South Caicos, in the Turks and Caicos Islands, in order to collect local ecological knowledge (LEK) on the Caribbean spiny lobster and queen conch fisheries. These are two of the largest fisheries in the Turks and Caicos, yet there are gaps in historical fisheries data and many challenges facing current fisheries management. Through these interviews, Fisher was able to record fishing effort and landings data from the 1950s – 2014 and to construct a map of intensive use harvest areas for each species throughout that time period. The fishermen not only proved to be a valuable source of qualitative and quantitative information indicative of the past and present states of the South Caicos fishery, but also provided well-informed opinions on major causes of depletion and potential future directions for management.

Fisher’s SFS DR advisor Dr. Edd Hind says that her work is “the first semi-quantitative fishers’ knowledge study of its kind in a developing world context and has a large chance of making an impact.”

Biographical information, research summary, and photo courtesy of and written by Mary Fisher. Additional information obtained from the SFS website

(Mary Fisher, below)

DNR Professor Marianne Krasny part of Cornell’s Massive Open Online Courses in 2015

Over the course of the past year Cornell University initiated four Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). MOOCs are different than typical online courses because they are open to public access and are not limited in the amount of students they can reach.

Dr. Marianne Krasny, Professor and Director of the Civic Ecology Lab in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University, has been involved with the growing MOOC program at Cornell and is teaching the course Civic Ecology: Reclaiming Broken Places, which will cover human interaction with ecological systems and provide service learning opportunities.

“If you look at them as ways that people who are motivated can learn at their own pace and what they’re interested in, I think they’re effective and serve a role there,” Krasny says. The excitement expressed by Krasny is shared by professors from various other institutions as well. Many hope that the MOOCs will provide lots of new opportunities to students who might not have otherwise been able to take traditional courses.

To learn more about Dr. Marianne Krasny’s work with MOOCs, check out this article.

Dr. Jim Lassoie Receives Excellence in College and University Teaching Award For Food and Agricultural Sciences

This weekend marked the 127th Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) Annual Meeting. This year, the APLU awarded two national winners, six regional honorees, and two new teacher honorees. These awards are presented to honor the awardees for their “scholarship, exemplary pedagogy and personal dedication” as well as their “innovative teaching methods and service to students.” The teaching awards are sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and APLU. The awards provide stipends of $5,000 for the national winners and $2,000 for regional and new teacher honorees to assist the awardees in improving teaching at their universities.

Dr. James P. “Jim” Lassoie, International Professor of Conservation and member of the Cornell University Department of Natural Resources, was one of the six individuals to receive the 2014 Regional Teacher award as part of the Excellence in College and University Teaching Awards For Food and Agricultural Sciences. In addition to the excellence demonstrated by Dr. Lassoie in the aforementioned areas, he was specifically selected for his work with the “design and development of 13 different interdisciplinary courses covering a variety of subjects including agroforestry, conservation, eco-agriculture, environmental sciences, and sustainable development.”

Congratulations, Dr. Lassoie, for this incredible achievement!

For more information about Dr. Jim Lassoie’s accomplishments and the award, please check out the links below.
CALS article
APLU article

Dr. Tom Gavin Teaches at National Taiwan University; Lecture and Teaching Opportunities Available

Dr. Tom Gavin, Professor Emeritus, just returned from Taiwan, where he spent two weeks teaching at National Taiwan University (NTU) at the invitation of his former student, Hsiao-wei Yuan. Hsiao-wei is now Chair of the Department of Forestry and Resource Management, where Tom taught a short course on Current Topics in Conservation Biology; about 17 students took the course, most of them grad students in wildlife biology.

In addition, Tom went on numerous field trips with the class and with grad students to visit their projects. He visited sites where conflicts arise between land use, mainly agriculture, and conservation of biodiversity on Kinmen Island, Neidong National Forest, and numerous locations near Taipei. He also had a small reunion with students from a course he helped lead two years ago, and he attended a dinner of Taiwanese business and university leaders who were all Cornell alumni. He also paid a courtesy visit to the Dean of the College of Agriculture and Bioresources, who he first met in 2012. There are many opportunities to lecture or teach at NTU, where they encourage foreign scholars to spend time at this excellent university.

If interested in learning more about this very user-friendly experience, please contact: Dr. Thomas A. Gavin, 607-272-4081 or email tag1@cornell.edu.