Yale F&ES 31st Annual Doctoral Student Research Conference
October 10, 2014 - Kroon Hall, 195 Prospect Street
Yale F&ES 30th Annual Doctoral Student Research Conference
Join us October 4, 2013 from 8:30am to 5:30pm in Kroon Hall, Burke Auditorium to hear F&ES PhD students present their research. The day will be capped by a keynote talk from Dr. Peter Kareiva, Chief Scientist for The Nature Conservancy, entitled, "Conservation that can make a difference: Choosing Gifford Pinchot over Grizzly Adams". The event is free and open to the public.
9:00 Opening Remarks: David Skelly, Director of Doctoral Studies and Associate Dean for Research
9:15 Coco Liu: GEOS-Chem simulation data on wildfire-specific PM2.5 in the western US and its
application in epidemiology
Advisor: Dr. Michelle Bell
9:30 Jesse Burkhardt: Economic modeling of California's gasoline and electricity sectors under emissions
policies: Preliminary efforts
Advisor: Dr. Matthew Kotchen
9:45 Noel Aloysius: Climate change projections: How reliable are they?
Advisor: Dr. James Saiers
10:00 Anobha Gurung: The scientific evidence on air pollution and human health in Nepal
Advisor: Dr. Michelle Bell
10:15 Laura Bakkensen: Adaptation and natural disasters: Evidence from global tropical cyclone
damages and fatalities
Advisor: Dr. Robert Mendelsohn
10:45 Sayd Randle: (Re)making water in Los Angeles, California
Advisors: Dr.Karen Hebert, Dr. K. Sivaramakrishnan
11:00 T. Robert Fetter: Information-based regulation in oil and gas: Evidence from hydraulic fracturing
Advisor: Dr. Matthew Kotchen
11:15 Peter Christensen: Suburbs or skyscrapers? Measuring the effect of a policy experiment on
urban form in China
Advisor: Dr. Karen Seto
11:30 Nathan Chan: Sharing the burden: Financing global public goods through international partnerships
Advisor: Dr. Matthew Kotchen
11:45 Timothy Terway: Towards transformation in social-ecological systems: Preliminary findings from action
research along CT’s coast
Advisor: Dr. Alexander Felson
1:15 Kevin Mclean: Exploring canopy highways: Arboreal camera trapping in the Panamanian rainforest
Advisor: Dr. Oswald Schmitz
1:30 Colin Donihue: Human impacts on lizard adaptation and ecological dynamics in the Greek Archipelago
Advisor: Dr. Oswald Schmitz
1:45 Sean Johnson: Modelling Acid Neutralizing Capacity in Stormwater Runoff from Concrete Surfaces by
Application of Laboratory Simulations of Concrete Weathering to Plot-Scale Weathering
Advisor: Dr. Gaboury Benoit
2:00 Jennie Miller: Landscape drivers of tiger and leopard predation risk on livestock at multiple scales
Advisor: Dr. Oswald Schmitz
2:15 Troy Hill: Recent sea level rise and salt marsh accretion in NY and CT
Advisors: Dr. Shimi Anisfeld, Dr. Gaboury Benoit
2:45 Chris Hebdon: Questions in the anthropology of energy
Advisors: Dr. Michael Dove, Dr. Douglas Rogers
3:00 Dana Graef: What it means to be red and green in Cuba and Costa Rica
Advisors: Dr. Michael Dove, Dr. Enrique Mayer
3:15 Namrata Kala: Climate, agro-ecological zones and the slave trade
Advisor: Dr. Robert Mendelsohn
3:30 Matto Mildenberger: Why did public concern for climate change decline?: Evidence from an opinion panel
Advisor: Dr. Ben Cashore
3:45 Stefan Renckens: Regulating transnational private governance in the European Union
Advisors: Dr. Ben Cashore
4:25 Introduction of the Keynote Speaker
4:30 Keynote Address:
Dr. Peter Kareiva, Chief Scientist, The Nature Conservancy
"Conservation that can make a difference: Choosing Gifford Pinchot over Grizzly Adams"
5:30 Bormann Award Announcement & Reception
Yale F&ES 29th Annual Doctoral Student Research Conference
Join us October 19 from 8:30am to 5:30pm in Burke Auditorium to hear F&ES PhD students present their research. We'll be showcasing research ranging from the Mekong to the Congo, spanning time from the Cretaceous to forecasts of the future, and covering topics from human health to global institutions. Come enjoy the diversity of research happening at F&ES!
The day will be capped by a keynote talk at 4:30pm from Dr. Richard Reading, an F&ES alumnus (Ph.D. '93), director of Conservation Biology at the Denver Zoological Foundation and Professor at the University of Denver. His research and conservation work has brought him all around the world developing interdisciplinary approaches to conservation. After the talk, please join us for a reception on the third floor of Kroon Hall.
October 19, 2012
Kroon Hall, Burke Auditorium
195 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511
Welcome and Opening Remarks
9:15 Opening remarks by David Skelly, Professor of Ecology; Associate Dean for Research; Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Director of Doctoral Studies
9:30 Mary Rogalski: Aquatic community responses to historic heavy metal and nutrient pollution, Major advisor: Dr. David Skelly
9:45 Kris Covey: Elevated methane concentrations in living trees in an upland forest, Marjor advisor: Dr. Chad Oliver
10:00 Martin Bouda: Representing root system architecture in Dynamic Vegetation Models: Results of a combined model of root system growth and soil water uptake, Major advisor: Dr. James Saiers
10:15 Session Wrap-Up (all speakers return to the stage for discussion)
10:30 COFFEE BREAK
10:45 Chris Hebdon: The politics of energy transitions, Major advisors: Drs. K. Sivaramakrishnan and Michael Dove
11:00 Jasmine Hyman: Greening the Bottom Billion: Access, Distribution, and Perceptions of Carbon Finance from the Peasant to the Banker, Major advisor: Dr. Robert Bailis
11:15 Matto Mildenberger: The politics of strategic accommodation: Explaining business support for US climate policy, Major advisor: Dr. Benjamin Cashore
11:30 Noel Aloysius: Assessing the impacts of climate change on the water resources of the Congo River basin, Major advisor: Dr. James Saiers
11:45 Session Wrap-Up (all speakers return to the stage for discussion)
1:20 Laura Bakkensen: The Economics of Tropical Cyclones: Evidence of the Determinants of Damages and Fatalities, Major advisor: Dr. Robert Mendelsohn
1:35 Laura Bozzi: We don't protect mountains: An environmental studies analysis of mountaintop removal mining, Major advisor: Dr. Benjamin Cashore
1:50 Coco Liu: Wildfire Smoke and Human Health: A Literature Review, Major advisor: Dr. Michelle Bell
2:05 Ranran Wang: Life cycle impact assessment of green and gray stormwater infrastructures, Major advisor: Dr. Julie Zimmerman
2:20 Session Wrap-Up (all speakers return to the stage for discussion)
2:35 COFFEE BREAK
2:50 Lauren Baker: Just Concessions?: Indigenous Rights and Identity Politics in the Peruvian Amazon Related to Oil Concessions, Major advisors: Drs. Robert Bailis and Michael Dove
3:05 Jeff Stoike: Cultivating Conservation- Political Ecology of the Restoration of the Atlantic Forest, Major advisors: Drs. Michael Dove and Mark Ashton
3:20 Jeff Chow: Local Direct Use Benefits of Mangrove Afforestation in Coastal Bangladesh, Major advisor: Dr. Robert Mendelsohn
3:35 Gabriel Grant: Authentic Sustainability – Pitfalls, Paradoxes, and Pathways in Conversations Toward a Better World, Major advisor: Dr. Marian Chertow
3:50 Session Wrap-Up (all speakers return to the stage for discussion)
"Interdisciplinary Approaches to Protected Areas Management: A Case Study from Mongolia"
4:15 Announcements and Introductions
4:30 Dr. Richard Reading (Ph.D. ’93), Director of Conservation Biology at the Denver Zoological Foundation, Adjunct Professor at the University of Denver and an Adjoint Senior Research Professor at the University of Colorado - Denver
28th Annual Doctoral Conference
October 7, 2011
Kroon Hall, Burke Auditorium
195 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511
Welcome and Opening Remarks
08:30 09:00 Breakfast, remarks by David Skelly
Social Ecology of Conservation and Development
09:00 09:15 Dana Graef: "Green Sovereignties: Environmentalism in Costa Rica and Cuba"
09:15 09:30 Sarah Osterhoudt: "Cultivating Meanings: Biological and Social Dimensions of Agroforestry Systems in Madagascar"
09:30 09:45 Jennifer Baka: "Biofuels and Wastelands: Energy Policy, Land Markets and Social Inequality in South India"
Air Pollution and Environmental Health
09:45 10:00 Keita Ebisu: "Birth Weight and Fine Particulate Matter"
10:00 10:15 Mercedes Bravo: "Characterizing Population-level Air Pollution Exposure and Estimating Health Outcomes"
10:15 11:00 COFFEE BREAK
11:00 11:15 Laura Bakkensen: "The Economics Of Tropical Cyclones Under Climate Change"
11:15 11:30 David Keiser: "Measuring the Damages of Water Pollution in the U.S.: An Integrated Assessment Approach"
11:30 11:45 Jeffrey Chow: "Tropical Reforestation Dynamics in El Salvador"
Ecology, Ecosystems and Biodiversity I: Flora
11:45 12:00 Gabriela Doria: "Dead Plant Talking: On the origin of Neotropical rainforests and further back"
12:00 12:15 Ashley Keiser: "Implications of familiarity: Non-random tree species change, litter decomposition, and the soil microbial community"
12:15 02:00 LUNCH
Environmental and Industrial Policy and Management
02:00 02:15 Xin Zhang: "A network Analysis of Clean Technology Cooperation Programs"
02:15 02:30 Jasmine Hyman: "Private Sector for Public Good? Shaping Climate Policy for Green Development"
02:30 02:45 Jooyung Park: "The Evolution of Materials from Waste into Resource: In the Case of Coal Combustion By-products (CCBs)"
Ecology, Ecosystems and Biodiversity II: Fauna
02:45 03:00 Kevin McLean: "Ecosystem effects of arboreal mammal communities: A 3D perspective of neotropical forest ecology"
03:00 03:15 Mary Rogalski: "Land Use effects on aquatic communities: A question of of spatial scale"
03:15 03:45 BREAK
"Changes in Selective Pressure Across Lifetimes: Mediate Tradeoffs in Survival Strategies"
03:45 04:45 Dr. Tracy Langkilde, Asst. Professor of Biology, Pennsylvania State University
05:00 06:00 Reception
4:15 - 5:15 pm
From Earth Day to Ecosystem Science: The Role of Yale F&ES
Dr. John Aber
Provost, Vice President for Academic Affairs
University of New Hampshire
Yale F&ES Ph.D, class of 1976
John Aber has been a professor of environmental sciences at the Universityof New Hampshire since 1987, and was Vice President for Research from 2003 to 2007. He is currently Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.
His Bachelors, Masters and Ph.D degrees are all from Yale University. He has also taught at the University o f Wisconsin-Madison (1978-1987), and the University of Virginia (1977-1978), following a post-doctoral year at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA. He was a Charles Bullard Fellow at Harvard University in 1996. In 2003, Dr. Aber was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and Distinguished Professor at the University of New Hampshire. He was awarded a University Professorship in 2009.
He has written the basic text in his field (Terrestrial Ecosystems, 2nd edition with Academic Press) and is co-editor of Forests in Time: The Environmental Consequences of 100 years of Change in New England (Yale University Press). He is also an author and co-editor of the recently released “The Sustainable Learning Community: One University’s Journey to the Future”, a presentation of the breadth and depth of sustainability activities at UNH. He has co-authored more than 200 scientific papers, and in 2003 was listed by the Institute for Scientific Information as one of the top ten scientists internationally in terms of publication impact in the field of Ecology and Environmental Science.
Student Presenter Abstracts
Aquatic Science, Policy and Management
Noel Aloysius - Hydrology of the CongoRiver Basin
Faculty Advisor: James Saiers
The Congo River and its tributaries flow through the second largest rainforest in the world, second only to the Amazon, and are regulated by several natural lakes and wetlands. The river basin possesses significant natural resources, but lacks economic growth due to the continuous political crisis. Published studies describe deforestation as a result of industrial logging and expansion of agriculture and increasing trends in temperature and precipitation as causes of environmental change in the region. These changes are expected to persist in the future and are likely to alter the spatiotemporal variability of the basin’s blue water (rivers, lakes, wetlands and groundwater storage) and green water (evapotranspiration) flows. Rapid population growth will further exert pressure on available water resources. These changes endanger the health and resilience of ecosystems and their services within the Congobasin.
In order to explore the effects of climate and land use on the water resources of the basin and to identify strategies to manage the basin’s water resources for their long-term sustainability, we are conducting an assessment of the basin hydrology. A semi-distributed hydrological modeling framework is being used to simulate the hydrology of the basin. The information on the region’s climate, soil properties and land use and land cover are used in the model. The first phase of the modeling involves simulating the historical hydrology of the basin. The projected changes in climate and land use and land cover will, then, be used to predict the changes in blue and green water flows in the future.
Sean Johnson - Investigation of acid neutralizing capacity and its effects on heavy metal dissolution in urban stormwater and receiving waters
Faculty Advisor: Gaboury Benoit
Stormwater runoff from urban areas is a leading source of metal pollution in waterways of the United States. Urban stormwater is characterized by high acid neutralizing capacity (ANC), which prevents suspended particulate heavy metal pollution from becoming fully dissolved and more mobile within the environment. Stormwater has been researched in isolation at its high ANC, possibly resulting in underestimation of heavy metal mobility. This study will investigate mixing of stormwater and a receiving water body. Field Flow Fractionation and Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry analysis (FFF-ICP-MS) will be used to determine dissolved concentrations and particulate masses of Lead, Cadmium, Copper, and Zinc in urban stormwater from Southington, CTand in the QuinnipiacRiver, which receives stormwater from Southington. The fractions of dissolved and particulate metals will be compared in pure stormwater and in the QuinnipiacRiverto determine the effect of mixing and ANC change on metal dissolution and mobility. This study will also investigate concrete and other impervious surfaces as sources of ANC in urban stormwater.
Maura Bozeman - Dissolved organic matter (
Faculty Advisor: Peter Raymond
Allochthonous loads of dissolved organic matter (
Troy Hill - Salt marsh drowning in Long Island Sound: Causes and biogeochemical consequences
Faculty Advisor: Shimon Anisfeld
Salt marshes in Long Island Sound are gradually converting to unvegetated mud flats, a process referred to as marsh drowning. Marsh drowning in this estuary is fairly well-documented, but its causes and biogeochemical consequences remain poorly understood. The limited evidence available suggests that drowning marshes are sediment deprived systems. This study will further investigate the sediment-deprivation hypothesis by constructing long- and short-term sediment budgets for drowning and healthy marshes using a combination of dated sediment cores, sediment traps, and sediment supply measurements. In addition to understanding causes, the proposed research will evaluate the consequences of marsh loss in terms of their function as sinks for trace metals. Specifically, I will test whether drowning marshes are net exporters of metals and sediments over long- and short-term time scales. Metal concentrations in sediments and in tidal waters will be measured and used to calculate changes in metal storage over the last thirty-five years, as well as the current direction and magnitude of metal flux between marshes and the estuary. This research will contribute important information to the management and policy communities by studying the potential for deteriorating marshes to become non-point sources of metal pollution, a shift with serious implications for environmental and human health.
Forest Ecology and Management
Daniel Piotto - Spatial dynamics of forest recovery after swidden cultivation in the Atlantic forest of southern Bahia, Brazil
Faculty Advisors: Florencia Montagnini and Mark Ashton
When do primary forest species reappear in secondary forest succession? When does high species diversity return in a regenerating forest? These are two of the questions my research on ecological processes driving species composition in secondary forests will help answer. The study has been conducted in recently established protected areas in the Atlantic rain forest of southern Bahia, Brazil, one of the World’s biodiversity hotspots. In my research I attempt to understand secondary forest succession after swidden cultivation by accounting for temporal and spatial variation in dispersal, recruitment, and species turnover. I have used a chronosequence of secondary forest stands to assess the effects of distance from remnant old-growth forests on the structure and composition of the overstory, midstory, and understory of the adjacent secondary forests. The chronosequence used in this study captured changes in two of the four structural stages of the stand development process, i.e. “stand initiation stage” when processes of dispersal and colonization influence community composition; and “stem exclusion stage” when growth and mortality are more likely to influence community composition. I have used the same experimental approach to study the effects of distance from remnant old-growth forests on soil fertility, soil bulk density, light environments, litterfall deposition, seed rain, soil seed bank, and seedling recruitment and turnover in adjacent secondary forests. My ultimate goal is to describe spatial patterns and assess the processes driving forest recovery in the study region by combining information on established vegetation, dispersal, recruitment, and the physical environment.
Thomas James - Biophysical drivers of forest establishment and succession in northern Mongolia
Faculty Advisor: Mark Ashton
The larch forests of northern Mongoliarepresent an ecological transition zone between the Siberian taiga and the central Asian steppe, and provide numerous tangible and intangible ecological benefits. As industrialization of Mongoliacontinues, pressures to develop sustainable forest management protocols are increasing. Temperatures that are warming at nearly 3 times the average global rate and limited knowledge of natural disturbance processes are challenging the capacity of a fledgling National Forest management system. In an effort to curb illegal logging while balancing conservation goals and forest resource requirements by subsistence users, Mongoliahas developed a nation-wide community forestry initiative. This work seeks to clarify the relationship between forest disturbance, climate and forest development. A parallel community forestry initiative will serve as an outlet for technical protocols identified and developed through interpretation of scientific findings.
Elaine Hooper - Effect of forest fragmentation on seed dispersal, seed predation and forest regeneration in the Brazilian Amazon
Faculty Advisor: Mark Ashton, Douglas Daly
The effects of forest fragmentation on neotropical forest regeneration and the factors driving regeneration dynamics are poorly understood. I hypothesized that forest fragmentation negatively affects the diversity of regenerating neotropical forests and alters species composition of forest regeneration through changes in seed dispersal and seed predation. I tested these hypotheses in the Brazilian Amazon where I measured tree and shrub species richness and composition in 120 plots located in continuous forest controls and forest fragments of different sizes (1, 10, and 100 ha). To measure seed predation, I placed seeds of 5 tree species near these plots and recorded percent seed removal after one month. To quantify seed dispersal, I placed two seed traps near each of my experimental plots and recorded density and species composition of seeds falling in these traps for 2 years.
Results / Conclusions ─Seed rain species richness was lower, and seed predation was higher in forest fragments compared to continuous forest. Species richness of tree and shrub seedlings was lower and species community composition altered in forest fragments compared to continuous forest. Regression and multivariate analysis results indicate a significant relationship between percentage seed removal (seed predation), seed rain species richness (seed dispersal) and seedling species richness and composition. The impact of altered seed dispersal and predation in fragments depends on seed size and dispersal syndrome; the implications of these findings will be discussed. I conclude that high seed predation and lowered seed dispersal are important factors contributing to lower species diversity and altered species composition of forest regeneration in forest fragments in the Brazilian Amazon.
Environmental Policy and Economics
Laura Bozzi - Who owns the mountains? The politics of mountaintop removal mining and patterns of land ownership in Appalachia
Faculty Advisor: Ben Cashore
Mountains are no longer a constant in the environment; their peaks can be – and are – removed so as to facilitate the removal of the coal located within them. Why has this operation, called mountaintop removal mining (
Laura Bakkensen - The economics of climate change and tropical cyclones
Faculty Advisor: Robert Mendelsohn
Tropical cyclones currently cause billions of dollars of damages to humans and property each year around the globe, and the existing literature expects this number to increase over the next century due to climate change. But how are damages distributed geographically across the globe, given various climate projections? How can we model disaggregated damages into components such as wind, storm surge, and inland flooding, and chose the correct econometric estimation technique to offer more accurate predictions of vulnerability to storms? Lastly, how can humans properly prepare for, insure against, and recover from low probability, high risk natural disasters?
Building upon the previous economic analysis of my advisor, Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, and hurricane simulation data from MIT climate scientist Dr. Kerry Emanuel, my presentation will describe my plan to tackle these questions and more.
Nathan Chan - Can green goods help us avoid the Tragedy of the Commons?
Faculty Advisor: Robert Mendelsohn
As our society becomes more environmentally conscious, we are faced with an ever-increasing array of "green" goods, like shade grown coffee, renewable energy, and biodegradable cleaning products. Advertisers bombard consumers with these green products, but the true impact of such products is not always clear. How much can green goods actually benefit the environment and our society as a whole? Past research has examined a special case of green markets, and my own work seeks to generalize and expand on the previous models. While it may seem counterintuitive, past results show that, in some cases, the introduction of green goods to the marketplace may actually decrease the stock of a public good. Furthermore, overall welfare may also decrease as a result. Though decreases in public good provision and welfare do not always occur (public good provision and welfare can indeed improve), it is important to be wary of these possible outcomes. My research seeks to determine the underlying factors that lead to decreased public good provision and decreased welfare, as this will help us predict the true effect of new green goods.
Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
Jonathan Richardson - The landscape well traveled? Comparative population structure of two amphibian species across New England
Faculty Advisor: David Skelly
My dissertation research addresses how the landscape can affect the movement of wildlife and, consequently, how various degrees of landscape connectivity can alter population dynamics. Today I will present on one component of this research that uses gene flow as a metric of dispersal capabilities for populations of two amphibian species throughout New England. I am using a landscape genetics approach to estimate the effects of specific landscape features on population connectivity in the spotted salamander and wood frog – two vernal pond-breeding species widely distributed throughout this region.
Genetic differentiation among populations was low but detectable at a significant level for both species. Genetic divergence was much higher for the salamander populations than the wood frogs. There was a significant correlation between genetic differentiation and geographic distance for both species. Bayesian clustering tests indicate that there are fewer distinct, but more geographically localized, genetic groups for the wood frog than salamanders. However, the genetic breaks observed do not appear to consistently coincide with specific landscape features. Lastly, autocorrelation tests support a smaller genetic neighborhood size for the salamander than the wood frog. Together, these results suggest that the landscape was highly permeable for the movement of these two species at one time. However, the two species seem to be affected quite differently by the landscape in this region, with wood frogs exhibiting greater movement capabilities than spotted salamanders. I am currently working on a model selection component of this project that will use least-cost path analyses to quantify the effects of particular landscape configurations on these species.
Kathryn Richards-Hrdlicka - The evolutionary history of the amphibian chytrid fungus
Faculty Advisor: Jeffrey Powell
Nearly thirty percent of amphibian species are declining. Chytridiomycosis, an epidermal infection caused by the emerging infectious fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), is a major driver. Strong evidence suggests Bd has been the proximate, if not the ultimate, cause of multiple population crashes and even extinctions. Over 400 species of amphibians from five continents have been found infected with Bd, which represents one of the most devastating and widespread emerging diseases in world history. For my dissertation research, I analyze the genetic variation of Bd on a global scale to address its origins. I also apply similar techniques to describe how Bd has evolved through time in a focused region of the world, New England (NE), by comparing genetic variation from contemporary and museum-preserved Bd
Jennie Miller - Future effects of climate change on tiger and ungulate resource availability in Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, India
Faculty Advisor: Oswald Schmitz
Climate and species interactions are two primary factors that shape ecological communities. Climate change is impacting ecosystems throughout the world, yet few studies have explored its effects on predator-prey relationships. I propose to model the effect of climate change on tiger and ungulate prey populations as a function of food and habitat preference in India.
One of the last populations of Bengaltigers is found in Rajasthan, India, a desert region that will likely undergo dramatic climate shifts over the next century. In eastern Rajasthan, climate change is predicted to raise surface temperatures, skew rainfall patterns and increase the overall frequency of drought. Climate shifts will likely cause forest communities to change in composition, potentially altering forage availability and populations of ungulate grazers and affecting top carnivore population viability.
I propose to measure tiger and ungulate resource utilization in Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in eastern Rajasthan. Tigers marked with VHF collars will be monitored for habitat usage and kill sites and scat will be collected from the greater population to record prey preference. Prey species populations will be assessed for abundance and habitat usage with transect counts. I will use habitat and food preferences projected with regional climate change and forest models to predict how shifting forest communities may affect populations ofungulates and tigers in Ranthambore over the next century.
Martin Bouda - Achieving Realism in 3D Virtual Representations of Plant Root Systems
Faculty Advisor: James Saiers
Modeling plant root systems’ extraction of soil water is essential for understanding both the effect of plants on subsurface water and water-mediated plant competition. Detailed ecohydrological simulations in 3D are currently the best way to study the effect of root system architecture on plants’ ability to compete for and extract soil water. The first prerequisite to conducting such simulations is a viable and realistic way of representing root systems in computer simulations. This project is aimed at achieving maximum possible realism in root system representations, with respect to root system architecture and water transport. A general approach to constructing root system representations will be outlined and an original algorithm for constructing them will be presented briefly. Constructed representations of a taproot system and a pectinate (sinker-root) system will be demonstrated and discussed, along with the algorithm features that allow for the construction of their particular forms. The representations will be evaluated for realism quantitatively – by comparison with quantitative measures of real world examples of such systems.
Alark Saxena - Evaluating the effectiveness of CBNRM in increasing the resilience of complex social-ecological systems
Faculty Advisors: ChadOliver and Robert Bailis
Climate change due to its impacts on natural and social systems has been identified as the single most important environmental threat and an overarching development issue that the world is facing today. A new set of scientific inquiry which integrates both physical and social science and moves beyond their traditional methods is required to deal with the complexity of issues like climate change and its impact on our social-ecological systems. Of the many, resilience approach built around the theory of complexity has been proposed to prioritize adaptation works around the world. Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) on the other hand, is also being seen as a promising strategy to increase resilience of local communities. My Doctoral research focuses on evaluating the effectiveness of CBNRM in increasing the livelihood resilience of forest village social-ecological systems to droughts by using Cross Scale Resilience Analysis (CSRA). Qualitative tools like historical and case study analysis will be used to understand historical and present resilience of the systems. A hybrid approach of merging complex system modeling tools like System Dynamics and Agent Based Modeling will be used to evaluate the future livelihood resilience of the local forest village systems.
David Butman - Stream and river CO2 evasion from the coterminous US
Faculty Advisor: Peter Raymond
The contemporary global carbon budget continues to undergo refinement and until recently, the evasion of carbon from inland waters has been omitted as either a source or sink for atmospheric CO2. Although still based on incomplete spatial coverage, CO2 evasion from fresh water systems is now included in global carbon budgets, with recent estimates placing it between 0.7 and 1.4 Pg. This range of estimates is derived from gross extrapolations from small scale studies. Difficulties with scaling stream and river fluxes beyond small catchment systems has been the result of a paucity of accurate CO2 measurements through time globally and the lack of a framework to scale the geomorphologic controls of CO2 exchange across large watershed drainage networks. Here I will present the results from an analysis of high resolution spatial geomorhplogical data and ~10,000 spatially explicit CO2 concentration estimates from across the USutilized to estimate for the first time a direct flux of CO2 from streams and river to the atmosphere from the coterminous US.
Environment and Health
Keita Ebisu - Levels of Fine Particulates Chemical Constituents: Are they homogeneous within a community?
Faculty Advisor: Michelle Bell
Studies of the health impacts of airborne particulates’ chemical constituents typically assume spatial homogeneity and estimate exposure from ambient monitors. In another words, the estimated exposure for a given community is equal to the spatially averaged ambient pollutant level. However, factors such as local sources may cause spatially heterogeneous pollution levels, which could affect results of epidemiological analysis. This work examines the degree to which constituent levels vary within communities and whether exposure misclassification is introduced by spatial homogeneity assumptions. Analysis considered PM2.5 elemental carbon, organic carbon matter, ammonium, sulfate, nitrate, silicon, and sodium-ion for the U.S., 1999-2007. Pearson correlations and coefficients of divergence were calculated and compared to distances among monitors. Linear modeling related correlations to distance between monitors. Spatial heterogeneity was present for all constituents, yet lower for ammonium, and sulfate. Lower correlations were associated with higher distance between monitors, especially for nitrate and sulfate. Analysis of co-located monitors revealed measurement error for all constituents, especially EC and Na+. Exposure misclassification may be introduced into epidemiological studies of PM2.5 constituents due to spatial variability. The reliance on the monitoring networks is likely to continue given the substantial data already available and the relative ease of their use. To avoid exposure misclassification, denser monitoring networks would be ideal, but it is not a practical approach due to the cost. When assessing health effects of PM constituents, new statistical methods are needed for estimating exposure and accounting for exposure error induced by spatial variability.
Mercedes Bravo - Estimating populations' exposure to ambient air pollution: Modeling vs. measurements
Faculty Advisor: Michelle Bell
Ambient monitors are often used to estimate exposure for epidemiological studies. Air quality modeling is less frequently applied but has potential to address some critical limitations of monitoring networks, including improved spatial coverage and temporal resolution.
To investigate the strengths and weaknesses of using air quality models for health studies, separate exposure estimates were generated for PM2.5 and O3 using monitoring data obtained from the U.S. EPA Air Quality System (AQS) and modeling results from a 2002 simulation of the Community Multi-scale Air Quality (CMAQ) model. Census data at the county-level was obtained for the study domain defined by the CMAQ model.
Counties with PM2.5 or O3 monitors were compared to counties without PM2.5 or O3 monitors with respect to several demographic variables, as a measure of whether counties with monitors had different population characteristics than counties without monitors. CMAQ model results were also compared, using several different metrics, to monitored concentrations. Exposure estimates for PM2.5 and O3 were calculated for all counties containing monitors meeting inclusion criteria (370 and 454 counties for PM2.5 and O3, respectively) and for all counties (1861 total) falling within the model domain.
Preliminary results suggest that counties with monitors are more urban than counties without monitors, with significant differences in percentage of black residents, college graduates, population living below the poverty line, and median income. Generally, CMAQ did a good job of modeling PM2.5 concentrations, with a tendency to underestimate PM2.5 at low concentrations (e.g., <10 μg/m3) (average mean fractional bias = 10.8%). The model consistently over-estimated O3 concentrations (average mean fractional bias = 36.1%).
Social Ecology of Conservation and Development
Adrian Cerezo - Eight hundred eighty four (884) poopy diapers: Using analytical design to document, assess and convey the complex-dynamic network of early childhood development
Faculty Advisor: Stephen Kellert
Human children, particularly young children (from conception to 3 years) are embedded in, and dependent of, a complex dynamic system of physiological, familial, socio-cultural and ecological interactions in order to survive and develop. This project pursues two questions:
1) What are the elements that constitute the early childhood development network in a particular community? and;
2) How can we document, assess and represent the quality of this early childhood development network?
Historically, these questions have been considered from the perspective of key indicators (i.e.: what are the elements most likely to affect most of the children the most). While this approach has been successful at improving quality in certain areas, it has also had the perverse effect of promoting damage in other areas. For example, the identification of infection as a key driver of infant mortality and the deployment of strategies to specifically reduce the risk and impact of infection, have improved the rates of survival very significantly, but has also had negative impacts in the overall quality of human development and our relation with broader eco-systems. In advancing the our understanding of early childhood it is fundamental to move towards integrated, complex, dynamic perspectives in order to expand our understanding of the problems and become aware of the potential impacts of prescriptions.
This presentation will explain how Analytical Design methods can be used to aggregate masses of dense complex data to construct a conceptual map of the network of early childhood development in a community. Beyond the research questions, it is hoped that he use of analytical design concepts and tools will allow the documentation of these dense complex systems to be more readable and (potentially) useful to policymakers.
Alder Keleman - Local purchase and local diversity: Agrobiodiversity and food assistance in Guatemalaand Bolivia
Faculty Advisor: Michael Dove
This presentation explores the relationship between food assistance and agrobiodiversity conservation, fields which are related in theory, but quite separate in practice. In recent years, food assistance has been re-conceptualized to include an emphasis on the “local”- e.g. on sourcing food products from within the country or region receiving aid, rather than importing them from farther afield. Meanwhile, current trends in agrobiodiversity research stress the importance of crop genetic diversity for food security, both at the household level, and in terms of world agricultural production.
Here, I report on qualitative research from Boliviaand Guatemala, two countries with extremely high levels of malnutrition, which are located in crop centers of origin and diversity. In-person interviews and a small number of site-visits were used to explore ongoing initiatives to include locally produced foods in food aid and school feeding programs.
Such projects draw significant interest, but also present numerous obstacles. Many of these obstacles parallel the challenges small-scale farmers face in accessing markets more broadly, including organizational management issues, and difficulty assuring the timely delivery of a high-quality, innocuous product. However, conceptual challenges also exist, particularly regarding the time-scale on which interventions are conceived. Food-assistance organizations tend to operate on a logic of immediate interventions, seeking to maximize the resources at their disposal to deliver food to the greatest number of people possible. Meanwhile, organizations promoting agrobiodiversity tend to take a longer-term view, and suggesting that both in-situ conservation and food security are best served by long-term investment in community development. These approaches parallel broader debates about the merits of food security as opposed to food sovereignty, suggesting that further institutional common ground must be sought in order to solidify links between food assistance and agrobiodiversity conservation.
David Kneas - From dearth to El Dorado: The history and culture of mineral resources in the Ecuadorian Andes
Faculty Advisors: Michael Dove, K. Sivaramakrishnan
This research project builds on the conflict over copper mining in the Intag region of northwestern Ecuador. Despite sustained interest by a number of mining companies for two decades, communities adjacent to the mineral concession have blocked engineers from accessing the area. Though no major mining projects have developed since World Bank sponsored mining reforms in the early 1990s, Ecuador’s current government remains certain not only of the country’s mining potential, but of the Intag region’s role as the nation’s flagship source of copper.
Contemporary claims of mineral wealth, however, stand in stark contrast to previous assessments of mineral dearth. Indeed, through most of the 20th century, geologists described Ecuadoras a country noted primarily for its lack of mineral resources. Until their considerations in the 1970s of plate tectonic models of copper deposits, mining geologists repeatedly stated that Ecuador’s geology would not support industrial-scale mining. Based on Ecuador’s transformation from a country of mineral scarcity to one of mineral plenty, and drawing on the conflict over copper mining in the Intag region, this research asks: How are mineral resources in the Ecuadorian Andes historically constituted, socially constructed, and differentially imagined?
The goal of this research is to de-naturalize mineral resources by investigating the historical, political, cultural, and geological contexts through which mineral deposits, especially copper, materialized as objects of economic significance in Ecuador.
Jennifer Gaddis - Sustainable living practices: the role of technology and skills in the transition process
Faculty Advisors: Karen Hebert, Anthony Leiserowitz
There has been a recent surge of interest in exploring how Americans can achieve secure, fulfilling lives during a time of economic, ecological, and social crises. This goal, often described as ‘sustainable living’, rests in opposition to mainstream consumption-oriented lifestyles. To achieve a societal shift towards sustainable living, we must understand the process and lived-experience of transforming everyday life practices. Currently, there is a shortage of information about the spread, development, and interrelationships between pertinent knowledge, skills, and technologies. My research focuses on these aspects of the transition process, as embodied by an individual’s possession of both physical artifacts (e.g. resource-conserving technologies, self-provisioning equipment) and specific forms of knowledge and skill. The transition process will be explored using the following alternative living arrangements as case studies: (1) LEED certified green housing complex, (2) ecological co-housing, and (3) urban collectives. Residents of these three types of housing likely rely on various combinations of technology (newly provided by the builder or retrofitted by the resident), sustainable living skills, and social capital to lower their ecological impact. Presumably the urban collectives, whose residents are simply modifying existing apartments and everyday living practices, rely more on their own skills, retrofitted technologies, and social capital, whereas the green building residents rely primarily on the technologies embedded in the new green buildings, and the ecological co-housing residents fall somewhere between. Through these cases, I hope to provide a more nuanced understanding of how to foster the development of sustainable-living behaviors based on diverse personal contexts.
Sara Smiley Smith - Lessons from the heap: Five years of move-out reuse efforts at Yale
Faculty Advisor: John Wargo
Inspired by increasing global demand for sustainable practices, colleges and universities around the world are taking the lead in developing systems and policies that achieve a higher environmental standard. One of the most visible and actionable components of a sustainable system is a waste management strategy that incorporates waste reduction and streamlined recycling and reuse. On campuses around the country, the end of the year poses a formidable waste minimization challenge as students quickly vacate dormitories. The transient nature of student life, with annual cycles of moving, makes durable goods less desirable and disposal of items before the end of their useful life a more common occurrence. Focusing on five years of data from YaleUniversity's move out recycling and reuse evolution, this paper examines the lessons to be learned from the items students discard and the challenges in collecting them for reuse. We present the change in methods of collection and redistribution on campus over time to highlight the evolution of the program, as well as data on items collected each year indicating behavior shifts among the student population. Through this analysis we were able to review the success of methods as they evolved, and identify opportunities to avoid premature disposal from both an institutional policy perspective as well as through student behavior change. Armed with this wealth of information, the move-out recycling efforts will continue to evolve and inform stronger campus waste minimization efforts.
C. Anne Claus - Cultivating conservation: The lure of “traditional” fishponds in Southwestern Japan
FacultyAdvisor: Michael Dove and William Kelly
In 2006, a coastal village in southwestern Japanrebuilt a fishpond that had disappeared fifty years earlier. This presentation tracks this fishpond as part of a contested development initiative that seeks to rebuild traditional fishing technologies in order to meet conservation ends. Intriguingly, identity rather than ecology forms the basis for this movement. Conflicts surrounding this technological revitalization abound however, as assigned identities fail to account for the multifaceted ways residents perceive themselves. Close attention to such disagreements reveals differing local, organizational, and national philosophies regarding nature and development. I interviewed university researchers, conservation practitioners, and residents of three fishpond communities in the East China Seain order to identify currents of continuity within these philosophical positions. I complemented this ethnographic research with historical research on regional fishing methods in order to understand the technological context of the fishpond revitalization movement. Effective conservation requires understanding the complex reasons that motivate coastal residents to conserve. This research illustrates that, for residents of these islands, environmental behavior is based on more than just economic or ecological variables. Recognizing the strengths and pitfalls of conservation that adopts narratives ofidentity, ethnicity, or indigineity is necessary for crafting more robust conservation policies.
27th Annual Doctoral Conference
September 17, 2010
Kroon Hall, Burke Auditorium
195 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511
Welcome and Opening Remarks
8:15 Dr. David Skelly
Professor of Ecology, Associate Dean for Research
Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
Aquatic Science, Policy, and Management
8:30 Noel Aloysius - Hydrology of the Congo River Basin (Faculty Advisor: James Saiers)
8:45 Sean Johnson - Investigation of acid neutralizing capacity and its effects on heavy metal dissolution in urban stormwater and receiving waters (Faculty Advisor: Gaboury Benoit)
9:00 Maura Bozeman - Dissolved organic matter (DOM) composition shapes microbial competition for nutrients, carbon (C) fate, and ecosystem stability in lake water microcosms (Faculty Advisor: Peter Raymond)
9:15 Troy Hill - Salt marsh drowning in Long Island Sound: Causes and biogeochemical consequences (Faculty Advisor: Shimon Anisfeld)
Forest Ecology and Management
9:30 Daniel Piotto - Spatial dynamics of forest recovery after swidden cultivation in the Atlantic forest of southern Bahia, Brazil (Faculty Advisors: Florencia Montagnini and Mark Ashton)
9:45 Thomas James - Biophysical drivers of forest establishment and succession in northern Mongolia (Faculty Advisor: Mark Ashton)
10:00 Elaine Hooper - Effect of forest fragmentation on seed dispersal, seed predation, and forest regeneration in the Brazilian Amazon (Faculty Advisors: Mark Ashton and Douglas Daly)
10:15 Coffee break
Environmental Policy and Economics
10:30 Laura Bozzi - Who owns the mountains? The politics of mountaintop removal mining and patterns of land ownership in Appalachia (Faculty Advisor: Ben Cashore)
10:45 Laura Bakkensen - The economics of climate change and tropical cyclones (Faculty Advisor: Robert Mendelsohn)
11:00 Nathan Chan - Can green goods help us avoid the Tragedy of the Commons? (Faculty Advisor: Robert Mendelsohn)
Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
11:15 Jonathan Richardson - The landscape well traveled? Comparative population structure of two amphibian species across New England (Faculty Advisor: David Skelly)
11:30 Kathryn Richards-Hrdlicka - The evolutionary history of the amphibian chytrid fungus (Faculty Advisor: Jeffrey Powell)
11:45 Jennie Miller - Future effects of climate change on tiger and ungulate resource availability in Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, India (Faculty Advisor: Oswald Schmitz)
1:00 Martin Bouda - Achieving Realism in 3D Virtual Representations of Plant Root Systems (Faculty Advisor: James Saiers )
1:!5 Alark Saxena - Evaluating the effectiveness of CBNRM in increasing the resilience of complex social-ecological systems (Faculty Advisors: Chad Oliver and Robert Bailis)
1:30 David Butman - Stream and river CO2 evasion from the coterminous US (Faculty Advisor: Peter Raymond)
Environment and Health
1:45 Keita Ebisu - Levels of Fine Particulates Chemical Constituents - Are they homogeneous within a community? (Faculty Advisor: Michelle Bell)
2:00 Mercedes Bravo - Estimating populations' exposure to ambient air pollution: Modeling vs. measurements (Faculty Advisor: Michelle Bell)
2:15 Coffee break
Social Ecology of Conservation and Development
2:30 Adrian Cerezo - Eight hundred eighty four (884) poopy diapers: Using analytical design to document, assess and convey the complex-dynamic network of early childhood development (Faculty Advisor: Stephen Kellert)
2:45 Alder Keleman - Local purchase and local diversity: Agrobiodiversity and food assistance in Guatemala and Bolivia (Faculty Advisor: Michael Dove)
3:00 David Kneas - From dearth to El Dorado: The history and culture of mineral resources in the Ecuadorian Andes (Faculty Advisors: Michael Dove and K. Sivaramakrishnan)
3:15 Jennifer Gaddis - Sustainable living practices: the role of technology and skills in the transition process (Faculty Advisors: Karen Hebert and Anthony Leiserowitz)
3:30 Sara Smiley Smith - Lessons from the heap: Five years of move-out reuse efforts at Yale (Faculty Advisor: John Wargo)
3:45 C. Anne Claus - Cultivating conservation: The lure of “traditional” fishponds in Southwestern Japan (Faculty Advisors: Michael Dove and William Kelly)
Keynote Presentation: From Earth Day to Ecosystem Science: The Role of Yale F&ES
4:15 Dr. John Aber
Provost, Vice President for Academic Affairs
University of New Hampshire
Yale F&ES Ph.D, class of 1976
5:15 Location: Knobloch Center, Kroon Hall
Dr. Nalini Nadkarni is known as “The Queen of the Forest Canopy.” She has been both a pioneer in forest canopy studies and in fostering the communication of canopy research among scientists and to the general public around the world. She is on the faculty at The Evergreen State College, in Olympia, Washington and the adjunct faculty at the University of Washington. Her research concerns the ecology of tropical and temperate forest canopies, particularly the roles that canopy-dwelling plants play in forests. She carries out field research in Monteverde, Costa Rica and in Washington State, supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society. In collaboration with computer scientists and informatics experts, she is creating software and data management tools for canopy researchers.
Dr. Nadkarni has published over 85 scientific articles and three scholarly books. Her recent awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship for excellence in scholarship and creativity, the J. Stirling Morton Award of The National Arbor Day Foundation, an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellowship, Presidency of the Association for Tropical Biology, and the 2010 National Science Foundation Public Service Award.
In 1994, she co-founded the International Canopy Network, a non-profit organization to foster communication among researchers, educators, and conservationists concerned with forest canopies. Her work has been featured in popular magazines such as Natural History, Glamour, Discover, and Ranger Rick. She has also appeared in numerous television documentaries, including Bill Nye the Science Guy, Good Morning, America, and the Emmy-Award winning National Geographic Heroes of the High Frontier. Dr. Nadkarni’s recent efforts are to integrate aspects of artistic expression with scientific documentation of the natural world, and she has brought artists, musicians, and Inuits to the canopy.
Her most recent project, the Sustainable Prisons Project, funded by the Washington State Department of Corrections, is to bring scientists to prisons to collaborate with prisoners to carry out projects in environmental science and sustainability. She has expanded her outreach work by establishing the NSF-funded “Research Ambassador Program,” in which she trains other scientists to do outreach to non-traditional public audiences in non-traditional venues, such as prisons, churches, and rap music clubs.
Nalini lives in Olympia with her husband, an entomologist, and two teenage children.
26th Annual Doctoral Conference
February 19th, 2010
195 Prospect St.
8:30 - 9:00 am Breakfast/Sign-in for presenters
9:15 - 9:30 am Welcome (Prof. David Skelly) and Introduction
Science of Carbon
9: 30 - 9:45 am Gabriela Doria: Declining atmospheric CO2 during the late Middle Eocene Climatic Transition (adviser: Sir Peter Crane)
9:45 - 10:00 am Xin Zhang: Characterizing CO2, CH4, and N20 fluxes in a landscape dominated by soybean and corn (adviser: Prof. Xuhui Lee )
10:00 - 10:15 am Yong Zhao: High frequency monitoring of DIC, DCOM, PCO2, O2, and Chi_a exchange between a salt marsh and Long Island Sound (adviser: Prof. Peter Raymond)
10:15 - 10:30 am Ashley Keiser: One of these things is not like the other: Examining functional equivalence across soil microbial communities (adviser: Prof. Mark Bradford)
10:30 - 10:45 am Coffee Break
Society and Institutions
10:45 - 11:00 am BinBin Jiang: Utilizing the concept of urban metabolism to understand communities (adviser: Profs. .Marian Chertow, Alex Felson, Karen Seto)
11:00 - 11:15 am Lauren Baker: Indigenous tensions with oil exploration in the Peruvian Amazon (adviser: Profs. Michael Dove, Robert Bailis)
11:15- 11:30 am Angel Hsu: Using remote sensing to inform environmental decision-making (adviser: Prof. Dan Esty)
11:30 - 11:45 am Catherine Piccard: Conserving Tanzania's wildlife: What is the policy problem? (adviser: Profs. William Burch, Susan Clark)
11:45 - 12:00 pm Sara Smiley Smith: Harnessing decision making to improve institutional sustainability: Examining change in university settings (adviser: Profs. John Wargo, Julie Newman, Garry Brewer)
12:00 - 1:15 pm Lunch
Materials and Resources
1:15 - 1:30 pm Jason Rauch: The human impact on global metal cycles (adviser: Prof. Thomas Graedel)
1:30 - 1:45 pm Keita Ebisu: The association between developed land use and infants' wheeze (adviser: Dr. Michelle Bell)
1:30 - 1:45 pm Jooyoung Park: Wastes as resources: the management of and cooperation for coal combustion by-products utilization (adviser: Prof. Marian Chertow)
2:00 - 2:15 pm Luisa Cortesi: Drinking water in floods: an anthropological perspective in rural Bihar, India (adviser: Profs. M.Dove, K.Shivaramakrishnan)
2:15 - 2:30 pm Coffee Break
2:30 - 2:45 pm Mary Rogalski: Contributing to the next generation of biological indicators (adviser: Prof. David Skelly )
2:45 - 3:00 pm Adrian Cerezo: The relation between extreme individual carbon footprints and early childhood development quality (adviser: Prof. Stephen Kellertl)
3:00 - 3:15 pm Steve Brady: The influence of roads on wetland amphibians (adviser: Prof. David Skelly)
3:15 - 3:30 pm Alvaro Redondo Brenes: Effects of land-use change on bird species conservation in a biological corridor, Costa Rica (adviser: Profs. Florencia Montagnini, Chad Oliver )
3:30 - 3:45 pm Elaine Hooper: Effect of forest fragmentation on forest regeneration in the Brazilian Amazon (adviser: Profs. Thomas Graedel, Pierre Legendre)
4:00 - 5:00 pm Keynote speaker: Prof. Nalini Nadkarni
5:00 - 6:00 pm Reception (Knobloch Center) and TGIF
195 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT
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Science of Carbon
Gabriela Doria made her undergraduate studies in Biology at Universidad Nacional in Bogota, Colombia, her hometown. Since early on her career she has been actively involved in research on paleobotany and the use of fossil plants as indicators of climatic and ecological conditions of past environments. She fulfilled this first working at the Colombian Institute of Petroleum and as an intern at the Center of Tropical Paleoecology and Archaeology of the Smithsonian Research Institute (Panama City, Panama), and after as a graduate student at Wesleyan University (Middletown, Connecticut) where she obtained her Master’s degree in Earth and Environmental Sciences. Currently Gabriela is a first year doctoral student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies under the supervision of Sir Peter Crane, Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. Dean of the School and Professor of Botany. Gabriela is passionate about plants and how these silent creatures have shaped life on Earth since remote times. She is also amazed with the current biological diversity of tropical terrestrial ecosystems, and that is why during her PhD studies she plans to explore issues in flowering plants evolution and the origin of Neotropical rainforests. During the next few years she will be investigating the plant fossil record of the Cretaceous (~145-65 Myrs ago) of northern South America (mainly Colombia), where she thinks she might find a valuable record of the coordination of ecosystem’s evolution and climate change in a much warmer world than today’s.
Title: Dead Plant Talking: Estimating atmospheric CO2 in the Middle Eocene (~40 Myrs ago) from stomata of the living fossil conifer Metasequoia
Abstract: Plants are able to adapt to climatic and environmental changes, and for this reason fossil plants have been used as indicators of paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental conditions, including the concentration of atmospheric CO2. One of the most prominent changes in Earth’s climate evolution was the transition from the extreme greenhouse world of the early Paleogene (~55 Myrs ago) to the present-day icehouse condition. However, there is substantial controversy over the history of climate and atmospheric CO2 during part of the Middle Eocene “doubthouse” interval (42-38 Myrs ago), including evidence for pulses of global warmth and ice sheet growth. Here I estimate the concentration of atmospheric CO2 during the late Middle Eocene (~40 Myrs ago) using stomatal indices of mummified Metasequoia needles from ten levels in an exceptionally preserved core from the Giraffe Pipe kimberlite in northwestern Canada (62°N paleolatitude). Reconstructed atmospheric CO2 values lie between 600-1000 ppm but with a secular decline to 400-500 ppm towards the top of the studied core. Because the CO2-threshold for nucleating large ice sheets during the Cenozoic is ~500 ppm, our CO2 record is most compatible with a transition from warm, largely ice-free conditions to cooler climates and the existence of ice sheets. Our fossils also unequivocally demonstrate that high-latitude deciduous forests thrived in the geologic past under atmospheric CO2 concentrations that will likely be reached within the current century (500-1000 ppm).
Xin Zhang is a third-year doctoral student at Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (FES). Her research focuses on quantifying greenhouse gas budgets for ecosystems to formulate a ﬁrm scientiﬁc base for global change policy. She received her master’s degree from Peking University, where her thesis focused on “A footprint analysis of atmospheric pollution in the Pearl River Delta Region.” Before that, she graduated from Ocean University of China with bachelor degrees on Environmental Science and Computer Science. She served as a member of the Student Affairs Committee at FES, and currently is the President of the Association of Chinese Students and Scholars at Yale University.
Title: Characterizing CO2, CH4, and N2O Fluxes in a Landscape Dominated by Soybean and Corn
Abstract: In order to characterize the budgets of three major greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4 and N2O) from cropland, we conducted an experiment near Rosemount, Minnesota, in a landscape dominated by soybean and corn faming. The experiment was carried out at the plant, the ecosystem, and the regional scales. A steady-state flow-through chamber was used to measure the fluxes from the plants of soybean and corn. The gradient diffusion method was used to determine the fluxes at the ecosystem scale. Concentration measurements on a tall tower were used to drive a Lagrangian transport model to interoperate the surface fluxes at the regional scale. Measurements of CH4 and N2O at each scale were made using tunable diode laser spectroscopy. The results to date are summarized as follows: 1) Corn plants were a small net sink of N2O with an average uptake of 4×10-4 µmol m-2 s-1 mainly occurring at night. The N2O flux of unfertilized soybean plants was below the instrument detection limit, and that of fertilized plants was a net source to the atmosphere at a rate of 5×10-3 µmol m-2 s-1 with the emission mainly occurring at night. 2) Both the corn and soybean plants showed a slight uptake of CH4 during the night and release during the day. The daily average CH4 flux was a small net sink for soybean (5×10-5 µmol m-2 s-1 ) and a small net source for corn (1×10-4 µmol m-2 s-1 ). 3) The soybean ecosystem was a source of N2O, with an emission rate of 1×10-4 µmol m-2 s-1 at night and 5×10-4 µmol m-2 s-1 during the day (The analysis of the ecosystem data for corn is under way). 4) The tall tower measurements indicate a strong source of CH4 and N2O at the regional scale. These results will be discussed in the context of a Lagrangian transport model, which is currently under development.
Yong Zhao is a second-year doctoral student at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (FES), advised by Professor Peter Raymond. His research focuses on carbon transportation and cycling in a tidal salt marsh estuary. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the Yuanpei School of Peking University in 2006, advised by Professor Lu Zhi, founder and executive director of Conservation International-Shanshui Center of Nature and Society. He received a Master of Environmental Science degree at FES in 2008.
Title: High frequency monitoring of DIC, CDOM, PCO2, O2, and Chl_a Exchange between a Salt Marsh and Long Island Sound
Abstract: Recognized as one of the most productive ecosystems in the world, tidal salt marshes are sinks for oxygen and inorganic nutrients while sources of organic carbon. The areal extent of salt marshes is small in proportion of total global land-cover but they are still considered potentially significant as a source of dissolved organic carbon to the ocean. The marine-dominated estuary is differentiated from river-dominated estuaries by often receiving little freshwater besides direct precipitation and groundwater, and therefore, the material exchange between marine-dominated estuary and salt marsh is mainly driven by tidal cycle. Therefore, the material dynamics during the tidal cycle in marine-dominated estuary is essential to understand the function of salt marsh. However, there is very limited information about the controls of material dynamics within and across marshes. The degree of marsh flooding and the period of a tidal cycle in daytime, for instance, might be an important component of regulating various of materials since the photosynthesis and particle deposition in salt marsh are indicated by them. In this research we consecutively monitor the concentration of CDOM, CO2, O2, Chlorophyll_a, as well as other necessary parameters in a tidal gate of a small salt marsh to address the pattern of carbon dynamic transportation in the water flux of tide. Here, we present our data collected in June 2009 in a salt marsh by Long Island Sound.
Ashley Keiser received a B.S. from the University of New Hampshire in environment science. After spending three years as an environmental consultant. She is now a second-year Ph.D. student working with Mark Bradford. Her research interests lie in the field of terrestrial ecosystem ecology. Specifically, her dissertation focuses on forest dynamics and how global change is impacting nutrient feedback loops between microbial and plant communities.
Title: One of these things is not like the other: Examining functional equivalence across soil microbial communities
Abstract: Soil microbial communities play a pivotal role in providing ecosystem services, given that they are key drivers of biogeochemical processes such as carbon and nitrogen cycling. As species-rich communities, made-up of populations with short generation times, it is commonly assumed that there is a high degree of functional redundancy within soil communities with respect to broad-physiological processes, such as organic carbon decomposition. This assumption underlies the majority of terrestrial ecosystem models, where relationships between processes and controlling factors are parameterized using statistical relationships generated from measurements across space. However, microbial communities display biogeographic patterns, even at fine scales. New work shows that these biogeographic patterns extend to microbial community function, with functioning influenced by differences in resource histories. We examined whether a common resource history might cause functionally dissimilar communities to converge functionally. Next, we tested whether functional convergence (partial or complete) is associated with a reduction in function in alternate environments (a functional ‘trade-off’). We used a 6 x 2 (soil community inoculum x litter environment) full-factorial design under controlled, laboratory conditions. Microcosm CO2 efflux was measured over three, successive 100-day periods, each representing a fresh inoculum step. Inocula were ‘back-crossed’ at the third step to explore trade-offs.
Society and Institutions
BinBin Jiang is a second-year doctoral student working with Marian Chertow. She received a B.S. and M.S. in environmental engineering from Stanford University and worked for two years as an energy policy analyst before arriving at FES. Her research focuses on studying the flow of energy and materials through the urban environment and the effect of these flows on communities.
Title: A history of urban metabolism - and a path forward
Abstract: This presentation is an examination of the intellectual history of urban metabolism. Urban metabolism has been defined as “…the sum total of the technical and socioeconomic processes that occur in cities, resulting in growth, production of energy, and elimination of waste.” (Kennedy et. al., 2008) The concept came into being in 1965 when Abel Wolman published an article that quantified the flows of energy, water, and materials of an imagined urban region. The motivation behind measuring these flows is the analogy of the city as an organism, which has its roots in ecology. The city can be likened to an ecosystem that hosts the production and consumption of organic matter (Odum, 1971). Urban metabolism is often tied to the concepts of “industrial metabolism” (Ayres, 1994) and “social metabolism” (Fischer-Kowalski, 1998, 1999), which have their origins in the field of industrial ecology. Because of its earliest roots in quantitative analysis, studying urban metabolism often means following the flow of energy, water, and materials through a well-defined, physical boundary or site. Most of these studies have been conducted on a national, regional, or city-scale level, but a discussion of what the boundary or site actually means for the studies is usually not discussed or analyzed, but assumed. The relationship between how humans respond to physical infrastructure of a city and the resulting consumption flows is also a topic that has not been addressed fully within the framework of urban metabolism. This presentation will explore the potential of urban metabolism as a way to understand the history and people of a city in addition to its traditional role as an accounting method for physical flows. I argue that thinking about the origins of the concept can help us to see broader applications of urban metabolism in understanding how to design healthy, sustainable communities.
Lauren Baker is a 2nd year doctoral student in the Yale School of Forestry and
Environmental Studies focusing on international social justice and environment
issues, especially surrounding indigenous rights and extractive industries. Her dissertation research will examine indigenous rights, values and identity
politics in the Peruvian Amazon in the context of a recent and rapid expansion
of oil exploration concessions. She works with Michael Dove and Robert Bailis.
Lauren also did a Masters of Environmental Management at F&ESy, graduating in
2005, and she worked for three years at the Center for International
Environmental Law in Washington D.C., on the “Human Rights and Environment” and
“Law and Communities” programs.
Title: Indigenous Tensions with Oil Exploration in the Peruvian Amazon
Abstract: In my presentation, I will highlight my findings from summer preliminary research about major tensions surrounding oil exploration concessions, which have recently and rapidly increased in the Peruvian Amazon and now cover around 75% of the Peruvian Amazon. Findings indicate that: 1) the legitimacy of the concessions was questioned at a fundamental level by many indigenous federation leaders, in a way that reinforced claims to indigenous sovereignty; 2) the concessioning process was often seen as being inadequate or illegitimate; 3) many indigenous peoples remained concerned about social and environmental impacts from oil, despite company and state assurances of new, clean and virtually impact-free oil exploration and exploitation; and 4) there were significant concerns about violence and repression. I will build upon this preliminary research for my doctoral research, which will further examine the ways in which indigenous rights and values are articulated in the Peruvian Amazon as a counterforce to State claims to subsoil and other natural resources, and to what ends.
Angel Hsu is a doctoral student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Her research focuses on Chinese environmental performance measurement and data-driven approaches to policy. These approaches include remote sensing to monitor environmental change and statistical methods to evaluate data quality issues. Prior to coming to Yale, she was at the World Resources Institute (WRI), a non-profit environmental think tank in Washington, D.C., where she worked in the Climate Change and Energy program to develop voluntary greenhouse gas reporting initiatives in Mexico, Brazil, South Korea, India, and the Philippines. She also managed the GHG Protocol’s programs in China. She has a Master of Philosophy degree in Environmental Policy from the University of Cambridge and a BS in Biology and BA in Political Science from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Title: Using remote sensing to inform environmental decision-making
Abstract: Regular collection of satellite imagery over the last 30 years provides a means of measuring environmental change and performance in China to inform decision-making processes. This presentation will demonstrate two applications of remote sensing to improve environmental decision-making in China. First, satellite data can be used to develop measures of environmental performance as indicators of how effective policies are in achieving environmental goals and targets. This application will be demonstrated through an example of using remote sensing to derive forest cover metrics. Second, satellite data can be used as a source of information by which to compare other types of environmental data. The potential for this application will be shown through comparison of air quality information derived from remote sensing to ground-level measurements. As the use of remote sensing is gaining wider adoption in international policy, this research will demonstrate the potential for remote sensing technologies to enhance environmental quality in a rapidly changing context such as China, serving as a model for other countries – both developed and developing – to strengthen environmental decision-making and policy formulation.
Catherine Picard is a fifth year doctoral candidate at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies working with Professors’ William Burch, Susan Clark. and Roderick Neumann. Her research interests include how to improve the practice of transboundary and large-scale conservation in Sub-Saharan Africa, with an emphasis on the policy process. Her dissertation is an appraisal of the design, implementation and impact of the Selous Niassa Wildlife Corridor, which is located on the Tanzanian-Mozambique border. Prior to Yale, she spent five years working for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation on a variety of international grant making programs, including biodiversity conservation, international peace and security, human rights and reproductive health. Her interest in the intersection of people, policy and protected areas was shaped her experiences growing up in Rwanda, Senegal, Swaziland, Namibia and South Africa. Ms. Picard has a B.S. from the University of California at Berkeley, and a M.S. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Title: Conserving Tanzania’s Wildlife: What is the Policy Problem?
Abstract: More than one-third of Tanzania’s terrestrial land is officially protected, yet data confirm that wildlife populations continue to decline. Three types of problems (technical, governance and constitutive) are examined in detail to explain this trend. Technical problems occupy the bulk of people’s attention and resources and include poaching, habitat fragmentation, excessive bureaucracy, and economic inefficiencies. In contrast, governance problems are concerned with the decision-making process itself. This includes what problems are perceived, the types of data collected and disseminated, and how wildlife policies are debated, selected, implemented, appraised and terminated. Compounding weaknesses’ exist in each step of the decision making process. Finally, constitutive problems are grounded in the norms, beliefs, expectations and doctrine that implicitly shape how and who makes decisions about Tanzania’s wildlife. Constitutive problems are more opaque than technical or governance problems, but they precipitate and fuel many of the challenges facing Tanzania’s wildlife today. This presentation addresses current trends, underlying conditions and future projections for each problem type, and provide recommendations for upgrading the decision process as a whole. I conclude by suggesting that Tanzania’s wildlife cannot be effectively conserved until participants attend to all three – technical, governance and constitutive – types of problems.
Sara Smiley Smith graduated from Yale University’s joint masters program between the School of Epidemiology and Public Health and the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in 2007 earning both an MPH and MESc. She is now pursuing a doctoral degree at FES, focusing on issues of sustainability and innovation diffusion. During her time at Yale, she have also had the opportunity to work in the University’s Office of Sustainability. Her work as a research assistant in this office has centered around three main projects. She has worked to improve the move-out recycling and reuse efforts on the undergraduate campus known as Spring Salvage, increasing collection volume from 18 Tons in 2005 to 54 Tons in 2007. Additionally, she had the opportunity to envision and implement an internally focused Yale Sustainability Summit. This series of campus wide events was designed to share sustainability efforts taking place around campus, celebrate achievements, and stimulate conversations and new ideas about how to continue to improve Yale’s sustainability. Finally, she has led two teams of graduate students in a pilot project seeking to understand how Yale’s Athletics Department and University Health Services can improve the sustainability of their operations. This cooperative effort has helped to illuminate many of the operational opportunities and challenges to sustainability on an institutional campus which are informing my doctoral study. Prior to arriving at Yale, she received my B.A. in Environmental Studies and Political Science from Middlebury College in Middlebury, VT in 2004. She spent her childhood on the remnants of her family’s dairy farm in the small town of Winslow, Maine. She is a 3rd year doctoral student. Her Committee Chair is John Wargo, also on her committee are Julie Newman and Garry Brewer.
Title: Harnessing Decision Making to Improve Institutional Sustainability:Examining Change in University Settings
Abstract: In order to create a more sustainable modern civilization, we must enable innovative approaches to the myriad challenges we face from climate change to food provision. Institutions of higher learning have become leaders in evolving their internal structures, in some cases allowing for the rapid diffusion of innovations or innovative practices. By better understanding the processes through which institutions harness innovation and incorporate new approaches to sustainability in their operations, we can share these lessons to enable other institutions to more rapidly innovate for sustainability. Understanding the barriers to and accelerators of change in these complex settings will enable more rapid diffusion of policies, management structures and technologies for sustainability throughout society.
Materials and Resources
Jason Rauch Now in his fourth year of study, Jason Rauch is wrapping up his research on global metal cycles. Under the tutelage of Professor Thomas Graedel, Jason has quantified and mapped the combined technological and natural stocks and flows of the major metals utilized by human society. This research is a continuation of master’s work performed for a M.E.Sc. degree received in 2006 from FES. He became interested in the concepts and applications of industrial ecology after a facility visit exercise at a sawmill during FES Mods in 2004. Jason holds a Sc.B. degree in Geology-Biology and a B.A. degree in English Literature from Brown University, and plans on returning home to the wicked great State of Maine upon the completion of his studies at Yale.
Title: Spatial Indexing of the Human Impact on Al, Cu, Fe, and Zn Mass Mobilization
Abstract: With increasing consumption of material by human activity, the extent of influence relative to nature in the mobilization of metals and other elements on Earth continues to grow. Recognizing people as modern geomorphic agents, global data layers at 1° x 1° of human mediated mass flows (coal combustion, biomass burning, and mining) and nature mediate mass flows (net primary productivity, sea salt aerosol emission, and denudation to the oceans) are produced for the industrial metals of aluminium, iron, copper, and zinc for the year 2000. The major mobilization processes are denudation (natural) and mining (anthropic), though net primary productivity for Zn and Cu and coal combustion for Al are nearly as significant. All flows are subsequently combined into an index representing human versus nature flow dominance. As the first maps of mobilization flows of metals widely used by modern technology, they reveal that ~1-5% (depending upon the metal) of Earth’s land surface now has metal flow dominated by human activity.
Keita Ebisu is a third year PhD student at School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University. He is focusing on epidemiology and environmental statistics, particularly air pollution effect on human health. He finished his master's degree in Biostatistics at Yale, and worked Yale School of Medicine as a programmer analyst for three years. Currently, he is involved in PM chemical component effect on birth weight with his adviser, Dr. Michelle Bell.
Title: Developed Land-use in Connecticut
Abstract: Children's respiratory health has been linked to many factors, including air pollution. The relationship between developed land-use and health is not fully understood, although this is of key importance given the growing populations living in urban environments. We investigated whether the degree of developed land-use near a family’s residence is associated with risk of infants’ respiratory symptoms. Wheeze occurrence was recorded for the first year of life for 680 infants in Connecticut for 1996-1998. Land-use categories were generated using satellite imagery. The fraction of developed land-use near the subject’s home was related to risk of wheeze symptoms using logistic regression. NO2 exposure, as a proxy for traffic pollutants, was estimated using integrated exposure traffic modeling. Effect modification between developed land-use and income was explored. An interquartile increase in developed land-use within 810m of infant’s residence was associated with 1.61 times higher risk of wheeze (95% confidence interval, 1.12-2.33). When both NO2 and developed land-use are included in a single model, neither is statistically significant. Developed land-use had a higher association with wheeze for infants from lower income families. Our analysis indicates that developed land-use is associated with infants’ risk of wheeze symptoms, and that this effect differs by socio-economic status. Findings indicate that health effect estimates for development incorporate some effect of traffic-related emissions, but also involve other urban factors. These may include different structure of developed land-use, housing characteristics, or baseline health care status.
Jooyoung Park Before coming to Yale, I studied at Seoul National University in Korea and earned both BA and MA degrees in environmental engineering. I especially committed to develop a bio-remediation technology, which enhances degradation potentials of natural subsurface environment. I also worked on hydrogen and biomass energy policy assessment at Korean Energy Economics Institute. Based on my experience on technology and policy, I have been searching for a way how to integrate technology and policy in a way to restructure and redesign our system more sustainable. Industrial ecology is the one I found as an effective approach towards such a goal. It provides fertile ground to experiment various efforts towards sustainability in a systemic way. Now my interests range over waste management, inter-firm cooperation, system-level sustainability, and complex systems theory.
Title: Wastes as resources: the management of and cooperation for coal combustion by- products utilization
Abstract: Inspired and motivated by industrial symbiosis, this research attempts to explore technical and managerial aspects of industrial waste reuse, in case of coal combustion by-products (CCBs). CCBs can be viewed as wastes since they are unintentionally generated during power generation and need to be discarded from a coal power plant’s perspective. However, they are also resources as they’re currently reused in various applications such as construction and agricultural purposes. In order to reflect the values of CCBs, this study will find an innovative way to define and characterize wastes by comparing fly ash, bottom ash, and FGD gypsum. Then, how different features of CCBs influence the behaviors of industries will be investigated. Industrial waste reuse requires cooperation among waste generators and users, but our understanding about relational dynamics is still lacking, which hinders further expansion of waste reuse practices. To describe transaction behaviors for CCBs utilization, I will draw economic and social factors from inter-organizational relationship literature. Also, the current status of CCB utilization and its economic and environmental implications will be analyzed at a national level.
Luisa Cortesa, Ph.D. Anthropology and F&ES, first year, interested in social development processes and their intersection with decentralized and sustainable water management. Researching in India since 2003, I worked in the flood vulnerable Gangetic plains as an applied anthropologist for a network of small local NGOs during the occurrence of two major floods (2007-8). My research interests are on the fence of anthropology and environmental sciences: the geography of recurrent disasters and its material and cultural adaptability, contradictory ideas of sustainable and equitable development in a complex political landscape, the relation between technologies of water management and power/knowledge dynamics. My overall goal is an applied project that brings academic anthropological knowledge into the practice of social development and water management interventions. Main advisors: M.Dove, K.Shivaramakrishnan
Title: Making sense of floods
Mary Rogalski A growing body of research provides evidence of contemporary evolution: the potential for species to show evolutionary responses to environmental changes in timescales relevant to ecological processes. Anthropogenic environmental change has been shown to drive some of the most rapid rates of evolution. I am broadly interested in this intersection between ecology, evolution and human modification of landscapes. Beyond contributing to the ‘proof of concept’ aspect of contemporary evolution, I hope to add to our understanding of the relative importance of ecological vs. evolutionary dynamics in population and community level responses to environmental changes. I am also interested in ways that evolutionary responses can enhance or impede ecological responses and vice versa. I have an undergraduate degree in biology and environmental science form the College of William and Mary and a MESc degree from Yale F&ES. After earning my bachelor’s degree I spent three years learning about environmental science policy and federal R&D appropriations in DC, followed by two years as a park naturalist, mostly dedicating my time to environmental education and park restoration activities. My interests in geography, environmental history, ecology and evolution have been shaped by these experiences.
Title: Contributing to the next generation of biological indicators
Abstract: The intensifying pressures of urbanization and development place ever increasing demands on our ecosystems. As a result, watersheds absorb a complex mixture of heavy metals, pesticides, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals and food additives with unknown consequences to ecological health. Biological indicators ? organisms that are relatively sensitive or resilient to anthropogenic influences ? can help in understanding the environmental stress experienced in a habitat, integrating the impacts of weeks to months or years of exposure on the ecosystem. While the toxic effects of many contaminants have been tested on organisms in controlled laboratory experiments, the impacts of mixtures of chemicals in an ecosystem context are largely unpredictable. Even less is known about long term impacts of human activities on ecological communities. In my doctoral research I will use freshwater zooplankton communities to contribute to the next generation of biological indicators. I aim to test whether EPA toxicity tests conducted on zooplankton predict sensitivity to pollutants found in the environment. I will use sediment profiles and zooplankton resting eggs found in lake sediments to document the history of pollution impacts on zooplankton communities over the past several decades. Additionally, my work will expand our understanding of how landscape context affects how communities respond to and recover from anthropogenic stress.
Adrian Cerezo For twenty years Adrián Cerezo has explored human development from multiple perspectives as student, researcher, teacher, trainer, evaluator of programs, curriculum designer, education materials developer, writer of children’s books, participant in international forums, developer and designer of out-if-school programs, museum design consultant; and education program manager. His work is guided by one question: Can humans learn to live more sustainably? For the last five years, his research as M.E.Sc. and Ph.D. student at Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies has focused on the fundamental importance of early child care and development in the process of human development, particularly, the complex interrelations between the quality of early childhood and the environment (a network composed by individual, primary caregivers, community and ecosystem) in which children develop. Adrián holds a B.A. in Psychology and a M.E.Sc. in Social Ecology. He has been an Education Fellow at the Conservation Research Center of the Smithsonian Institution; has consulted for governments as well as multiple environmental and educational organizations; is a member of the Communication and Education Committee of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature; serves on the board of A World for my Baby (a non-profit focused on early child care and development in San Juan, Puerto Rico); is a member of Yale’s Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy - Knowledge Center for the South-East Asia Region; provides technical advice on early child care and development to the Children and Nature Network; and in December of 2009 led the delegation of the Consultative Group on Early Child Care and Development at the United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change (Copenhagen, Denmark).
Title: What Doesn’t Kill You: The Dynamic Role of the Ecologic System in Early Childhood Development Quality
Abstract: In the last century infant mortality rates have decreased from 300 (avg.) in every thousand babies born, to a current global average of 71/1000. According to the most recent World Health Organization statistics, only 10 countries have more that 10% mortality, while over 68 countries have mortality rates below 1%. In the case of the United States, the current mortality rate is .77%.
Humans have made great strides in understanding and addressing the factors responsible for infant mortality: infectious disease (in both mother and child), malnutrition, improper peri-natal care, prematurity and low birth weight, environmental toxicity, and congenital abnormalities (WHO, 2009). Around the world the rate of infant mortality is in a continuing downward trend as more communities gain improved sanitation, access to medical care, access to antiseptic water and increased nutrition. While the idea that about 15,000 children die every day around the world (mostly from preventable problems), this number is much lower than the 87,000 children that would die every day if we apply 19th century mortality rates to our present population.
In building a world that doesn’t kill our babies, we have significantly reshaped the geophysical, ecologic, chemical and atmospheric landscape. We have also reconfigured our social relations and individual characteristics. As we become more aware of the significant negative implications these changes have on the biosphere and the social sphere. The question arises: is it really true that what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger?
My project will consider three general questions: 1)beyond survival, what is the role of the ecologic system in supporting early childhood development?; 2)what is the cost of modern environmental modifications on early childhood development?; 3)is there a relation between sustainability of a community and the quality of ECD?
More specifically, I will be considering if communities designed to promote extreme individual environmental footprints also have a decreased quality of early childhood development.
My presentation will describe the theoretic framework used conceptualize the early childhood development network of a community and the methods I will be using to document and analyze the phenomena under study.
Steven Brady I am in my third year of study in the Doctoral Program following two years at FES in the M.E.Sc. Program. Professor David Skelly is my primary advisor. My interest in science dates back to the days when Mr. Wizard wowed young TV audiences with such timeless tricks as freezing his finger in liquid nitrogen and smashing it to pieces with a hammer. Fortunately, Mr. Wizard—being a, well, wiz—had the foresight to know this would happen and substituted a hot dog for his finger. Phew - I was hooked! More recently, my interest in environmental science was shaped by my experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya, where I worked on sustainable agriculture extension. At present, I am enamored by wetlands, and the amphibians that dwell there. Developing understanding of the long-term responses of amphibians to the dynamic human enterprise—especially in relation to roads and runoff—motivates my research.
Title: The influence of roads on wetland amphibians
Abstract: The network of roads on the landscape is vast: approximately 80% of all land in the conterminous U.S. is located within one km of a road. This formidable road presence contributes a suite of environmental impacts, including road-kill, fragmentation, and runoff. When wetlands intersect the path of such runoff, substantial concentrations of contaminants can accumulate in aquatic habitat. This is especially pronounced in small and shallow wetlands, such as ephemeral pools, which host a suite of amphibian species found nowhere else. Among contaminants found in runoff, which include heavy metals, petrochemicals, and deicers, road salt has garnered much recent attention because of its widespread application as the predominant road-deicing agent. Yet despite a growing interest aimed at understanding ecological impacts of roads and runoff, our knowledge of long-term consequences of roads on the environment remains nascent. This stems in part from a dearth of investigations, and in part because such investigations ignore evolution on contemporary timescales, focusing instead on traditional ecological inference. Yet reports of evolution influencing ecological outcomes are growing, suggesting this influence may be the rule, not the exception. This implies that our insights into road effects are limited to immediate outcomes, naïve to long-term responses associated with local evolutionary change. Such shortsighted understanding may be especially relevant for species characterized by spatially structured populations, such as amphibians. This suggests that amphibians dwelling in roadside wetlands may evolve rapidly in response to runoff, thus becoming differentiated from local populations removed from the influence of roads. Full understanding of road impacts on wetland amphibians requires a spatial approach aimed to evaluate responses on a local population level.
I evaluated this potential population specific response to roads and runoff for each of two wetland amphibian species: the wood frog and the spotted salamander. I employed a three-pronged approach comprised of reciprocal transplant field experiments, laboratory salt exposure manipulations, and field observations of wild populations. In each of these approaches, I measured amphibian growth, development, and survival to assess the performance impact of roadside environments, and whether this impact varies with respect to population origin. Specifically, I evaluated the response of individuals originating from two types of wetlands: those located < 10 m from a road (roadside wetlands) and those located > 200 m from a road (woodland wetlands). Overall, I found that road salt and road adjacency negatively influenced wood frog and spotted salamander growth, development, and survival. (Because results between these two species were qualitatively similar, and for the sake of concision, I report here key results concerning only the wood frog, but will discuss both species in my presentation.) Following chronic exposure to ecologically relevant levels of road salt, pre-metamorphic wood frog larvae were 13 % lighter in mass than larvae reared in a standard water solution. Further, the negative influence of road salt and road adjacency varied with respect to wetland origin type. Strikingly, wood frogs from roadside wetlands survived less than those from woodland wetlands. In a filed-based reciprocal transplant experiment, embryonic wood frogs originating from roadside wetlands survived on average 20% less than their woodland counterparts. Similarly, following acute exposure to road salt, roadside larval wood frogs survived 24% less than those larvae originating from woodland wetlands. These results suggest first that roadside wetlands are harsh environments for embryonic and larval amphibians, and second, that the ability to cope with roads differs by population origin with respect to road proximity. The subset of the population of wood frogs and spotted salamanders most susceptible to the influence of roadside environments may be that which is least capable of persisting there. These results pose questions about the mechanisms generating this divergent response, and indicate that roadside wetlands may induce sink dynamics coupled with inherited negative environmental effects.
Alvaro Redondo-Brenes is originally from Cartago, Costa Rica. He holds a BSc. in Forestry Engineering from the Technological Institute of Costa Rica and a MFS from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Prior to attending Yale F&ES he worked at La Selva Biological Station (Organization for Tropical Studies). At present, he is a doctoral candidate in the Program of Tropical Forestry at F&ES. He is assessing the effects of land use, political, and socio-economic factors on the conservation of bird and mammal species in the Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor and in the Osa Peninsula region, Southwestern, Costa Rica.
Title: Effects of Land-Use Change on the Conservation of Bird Species in the Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor
Abstract: I studied bird species diversity in ten different land-use types in the Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor, Costa Rica from 2007-2009. The ten land-use types were wildlife refuges, biological reserves, tree plantations, forest fallows, forest edges, villages, residential tourism projects, homegardens, agrosilvopastoral systems, and oil palm plantations. I was interested in determining how important the ten different habitat types are for maintaining the bird diversity of the corridor and how these land uses can be managed to enhance their conservation value. To address these questions I selected 20 different sampling points for each habitat type. Bird surveys were carried out over a two-year period. Each point was surveyed three times over the summer and three times over the winter periods of each year, total 12 visits per point. Total observation time was 400 hours. Aside from bird identification, I also recorded bird activities (e.g. foraging, nesting) and microhabitat were they registered (e.g. tree, shrub, ground).
I found a total of 44,917 birds from 48 families, and 334 species. Eighty one percent of birds were recorded utilizing forested habitats. However, also 77% of registered birds were found in the human-modified land-use types. Moreover, 44.5% of species were classified as forest specialist, 38.9% forest generalist, and 16.6% open area specialist. Regarding feeding guilds, 53.8% of species were classified as insectivores, 21.2% frugivores, 9% nectarivores, and carnivores and granivores 8% each. I also identified a total of 32 threatened species and 22 endemic species. Eight of the 22 endemic species were also under threat, and three endangered species were registered: Ara macao, Amazilia boucardi, and Icterus mesomelas. Overall, 64% and 75% of endemic and threatened species, respectively, were forest-dependent species. Based on concepts of sustainable forestry, forest-dependency of most species, and socio-political and economic situation in the PTBC, it was suggested that the corridor would be sustainable if the natural resources are managed in a gradation including protected areas, integrated management areas, and tree plantations. Payment for environmental services, ecotourism, reforestation, environmental education programs, and private investment, among others, will provide the incentives and infrastructure that local people need to practice integrated management effectively.
Elaine Hooper is a 4th year doctoral candidate at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. For her doctoral dissertation, Elaine conducted over 2 years of fieldwork in the Brazilian Amazon, where she studied the effects of forest fragmentation on forest regeneration. Her major faculty advisor is Mark Ashton (Professor - Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies), and her research is co-chaired by Douglas Daly (Director of Amazonian Botany – New York Botanical Gardens). David Skelly (Professor – Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies) and Pierre Legendre (Professor – Universite de Montreal) are also advisors for this project. This research is a continuation of Elaine’s interest in the factors affecting the regeneration of native tropical tree species in anthropogenically-modified landscapes which began with her Master’s degree research, where she studied the factors affecting forest regeneration in deforested areas in Panama invaded by the exotic grass Saccharum spontaneum.
Title: Effect of forest fragmentation on forest regeneration in the Brazilian Amazon
Abstract: Fragmentation of tropical forests is a major cause of global biodiversity loss, however the effects of forest fragmentation on the biodiversity and species composition of neotropical forest regeneration are poorly understood. I hypothesized that forest fragmentation negatively affects the diversity of regenerating neotropical forests and alters species composition of tree and shrub regeneration and tested these hypotheses at the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project site, located in the Brazilian Amazon. In 120, 10 m2 experimental plots I compared tree and shrub seedling species richness and composition in continuous forest controls to forest fragments of different sizes (1, 10, and 100 ha) and also at different distances from forest fragment edges to determine whether area and edge effects respectively affect forest regeneration dynamics. To determine the importance of various factors hypothesized to affect the species diversity and community composition of forest regeneration, I measured abiotic (light, soil moisture, temperature, humidity, and edaphic factors) and biotic (seed rain, seed predation, and herbivory) factors at each of the experimental plots. In this presentation, I discuss the relative contribution of these abiotic and biotic factors in driving biodiversity losses and species compositional changes in forest fragments.