NOTES FROM THE DEPARTMENT HEAD
Dear FWCB Alumni, Friends, Students and Staff-
From long-time residents to first-time visitors, people cherish Minnesota’s lakes, rivers and wetlands. More than 13 million acres of Minnesota is water—nearly one-quarter of the area of the state! We are fortunate to have a lake-dotted north country for fishing, boating and even wilderness travel, as well as swimmable, fishable lakes in the metro. Natural lakes are ubiquitous here, occurring in 83 of 87 counties. Minnesota’s 69,200 miles rivers include 4,500 miles of recreational water trails, 589 miles of wild and scenic rivers, and the first 680 miles of the Mississippi River. Minnesota’s 10 million acres of wetlands provide critical support for wetland-dependent wildlife as well as critical services for water quality improvement and flood control. Despite the high value we place on Minnesota’s water resources, along with our ongoing attempts to protect them, our lakes, rivers and wetlands are increasingly degraded by aquatic invasive species, pollutants, aquifer depletion and urban storm water. A patchwork of policies and programs won’t reverse this trend—a bolder response is needed. That’s why Governor Dayton has convened a Water Summit on February 27 in Saint Paul.
The primary aim of the Governor’s Water Summit is to convene a major cross-section of Minnesota’s water stakeholders to generate some new, bold ideas to address challenges we face statewide to protect our lakes, rivers and wetlands. Some of our FWCB faculty and alumni are helping set the agenda for the summit. Some of you will be among the 750 stakeholders participating in summit events—sessions on specific themes, focused on sharing information on resource trends and generating ideas for action. All of us are encouraged to provide input by completing the Governor’s Water Survey. It’s a short survey that, in addition to offering a way to provide your perspective, also serves to highlight the complexities of Minnesota’s water challenges.
After the Water Summit, session teams will be faced with the daunting task of compiling all of the ideas very quickly so that this input can provide inspiration for new policy initiatives. Will the Governor’s Water Summit achieve its purpose? Hopefully, in the coming months and years we’ll be able to see that our collective wisdom and creativity yielded the bold, innovative ideas needed to protect our lakes, rivers and wetlands for future generations.
Here’s to a productive Water Summit!
ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS
FWCB is accepting nominations for the Distinguished Alumni Award, which is presented at the Kolshorn Lecture in the fall. This award recognizes an alumnus/alumna who has attained distinction as a professional in fisheries, wildlife, conservation biology or a related field, and has demonstrated outstanding achievement and/or leadership on a community, state, national, or international level. The candidate's education in FWCB should represent a significant portion of his or her total postsecondary education. Nominees cannot be a current member of faculty or staff or a sitting Regent, but retirees are eligible. This award may recognize an individual posthumously. FWCB is accepting nominations online until May 1, 2016.
The Restoring Minnesota program, based in FWCB, is hosting two webinars for restoration practitioners in February and March: Planning to avoid pitfalls-the key to restoration success (February 23, 11-12, register online) and Learning by doing: why restoration records matter (March 29, 11-12, register online). Both are free and open to all.
The newly renovated Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Lab on the Saint Paul Campus is slated to open in early March. This $7 million project, supported by the Environment and Natural Resource Trust Fund and the Minnesota Legislature, will provide state-of-the art facilities for research on aquatic invasive fish, plants, microbes and invertebrates.
The Third Annual Conservation Biology Research Spotlight Fundraiser will be held April 11 2016, 5:30-8 PM, at the Cargill Building on the Saint Paul Campus. Join us for an evening of Conservation Biology research and conversation over food and drink while supporting University of Minnesota Conservation Biology Graduate Student travel. The evening will feature a poster session, student research talks, a light dinner, and a silent auction/back sale in support of student travel to present research and build collaborations. Please RSVP here.
The Minnesota Chapter of the Wildlife Society 2016 Annual Meeting was held in Mankato February 9-11. Congratulations to Molly Tuma (best undergrad poster), Spencer Rettler (best grad poster) and Hans Martin (best grad poster). Congratulations to the FWCB Team of Amanda Zak (Captain), Gabby Barnas, Nick Gondek, Molly Tuma, Ryan Keenan, and Libby McGraw, winners of the Minnesota Quiz Bowl.
PHOTO –Quiz Bowl team
FWCB Undergraduate, Dan Larson, was awarded a scholarship from the Minnesota Chapter of the American Fisheries Society.
FWCB undergraduate student Peter Xiong created a video of the 2015 Field Session. Watch the video to see some of the highlights from Cloquet and Itasca this past year.
FWCB undergraduate Madeline Grunklee is participating in the National Student Exchange Program and is currently studying at Western State Colorado University. As part of the program, she is snow-tracking red foxes in various locations around the Gunnison Basin region and collecting data information on habitat usages in winter home ranges.
PHOTO – Madeline
Conservation Biology PhD student Justin Meissen's prairie restoration research, The Perils and Pitfalls of Wild Seed Harvest, was the feature story on The Nature Conservancy’s Cool Green Science site in January #nature brains.
Annie Bracey, Conservation Biology PhD student, received a Graduate School Travel Grant for her dissertation work, Conservation of Common Terns in the Western Great Lakes.
FACULTY & STAFF HIGHLIGHTS
James Forester (Assistant Professor) will lead a new research project that will provide key information to guide Minnesota's elk reintroduction effort. Researchers will identify optimal habitat, estimate how many animals it could sustain, and gauge public support. If results are promising, elk may return to Minnesota in about 10 years. Read more about the research and reintroduction plans: Star Tribune | MPR News
Welcome to Dr. Holly Holt who recently joined FWCB as the Science Coordinator for the Monarch Joint Venture (under the direction of Professor Karen Oberhauser). As the Science Coordinator, Holly will be working with MJV partners towards advancing scientific understanding of drivers behind monarch population declines, enacting landscape and other environmental changes that foster pollinator population growth and enhancing policy guidelines that promote conservation of monarchs and other pollinator species.
Gopi Sundar (PhD, Conservation Biology), of the International Crane Foundation, organized the first International Sarus Crane Conference in Etawah, India in February. Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, in photo below, opened the conference.
Jon Slaght (PhD, Wildlife Conservation), Project Manager for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Russia program, writes a popular blog that will soon be part of the Scientific American guest series, starting in late February. Watch this space for Jon’s ongoing series tentatively entitled East of Siberia.
We depend on your generosity to provide student scholarships, to bring visiting scholars to campus for special lectures, and even to upgrade our field gear and laboratories. To contribute to FWCB, please contact Sue Galatowitsch (612-624-3242), firstname.lastname@example.org), FWCB Head, or Cynthia Cashman (612-624-7489), email@example.com in the CFANS Development office. More information about making gifts to the department can be found on the FWCB website.
Thanks to everyone who supports FWCB with contributions to funds that provide scholarships, fellowships, research and lectures. Your gift truly makes a difference!
In this issue:
- Note from the Dept. Head
- Announcements & Events
- Student Highlights
- Faculty & Staff Highlights
- Alumni Highlights
- In Memoriam
- Support FWCB!