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Department Head, Susan M GalatowitschIf you live in Minnesota or occasionally visit, you’ve probably seen TV ads promoting the University’s research impacts—they tend to highlight medical breakthroughs and feeding the planet. While those pursuits are clearly important, I think the U’s next ad run should focus on natural resources.  

On the Saint Paul campus alone, we have more than 100 faculty “solving the world’s biggest challenges” related to our natural environment - forests and grasslands, lakes, rivers and wetlands—and the wild species that inhabit them. Together with each faculty’s staff and graduate students, a crew of more than 500 researchers work on a boggling array of critical needs—from monarch recovery to reducing non-point sources pollution; from sustaining forest wildlife to reducing urban heat island effects. I suspect the creative team assigned to making the ads would be both delighted and overwhelmed by all of the natural resource research going on here. To create a coherent and focused message, they’d likely want to focus on a common purpose.

That common purpose seems obvious to me. What drives natural resource research in FWCB and elsewhere at the U is our pursuit of solutions that build positive relationships between people and their environment. That’s a difficult research niche to occupy—much harder than focusing on one part of the equation or the other. It’s also difficult because the best solutions to our natural resource challenges aren’t going to be about compromises but about “win-wins.”  

Let’s consider fisheries as an example. There are about a million and-a-half anglers in Minnesota and fishing is a big part of our economy—contributing nearly $5B annually. Sustaining harvested resources like fisheries is inherently challenging but now even more so considering invasive species, climate change, habitat loss and pollution. Win-win solutions for Minnesota fisheries depend on our research capacity to explore the problem from multiple angles, not discovering “silver bullets.” We need to find solutions that are effective, efficient and socially acceptable so they can be implemented broadly and have the desired environment outcomes—healthy lakes and excellent fisheries that we use and cherish. For example, our researchers can’t be satisfied with just any aquatic invasive species control method.  They need to find approaches that do not pose undue risks to native species, limit the use of public waters, or cost a fortune.  Likewise, the methods our researchers advance for estimating fisheries population trends and allowable harvest need to account for tribal/non-tribal co-management, major changes to food webs, rural economic realities and even advances in fishing gear. Increasingly, our researchers look to anglers to be part of their research enterprise by providing ongoing input into management scenarios, by gathering data as citizen scientists, and even helping scope out research priorities. Our researchers engage the public so that the solutions we develop are relevant and have a positive impact in Minnesota and around the world.

Here's hoping that sometime soon the U will trumpet our natural resource work in its TV ads - not in front of Northrup Auditorium, but from the ‘field’ where we prefer to be and where our work matters most! Regardless, I hope our newsletter every other month gives you a sense of FWCB’s research and why it matters.

Glad to have you spend a few minutes learning about we’re up to…

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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, 2017

We have a great line up of speakers for the FWCB-Conservation Sciences Spring Seminar series, featuring Tribal Partners in Conservation. Seminars are Fridays at noon in 335 Borlaug. Our first speaker was Colette Routel (Mitchell-Hamline Law School), Federal Indian Law and Natural Resource Challenges. A full schedule is available here.

The Fourth Annual Conservation Sciences Research Spotlight Fundraiser will be held April 20 2017, from 5-7:30 PM, at the Cargill Building on the Saint Paul Campus. Join us for an evening of Conservation Sciences research and conversation over food and drink while supporting University of Minnesota Conservation Sciences Graduate Student travel. The evening will feature a poster session, student research talks, a light dinner, and a silent auction/bake sale, all in support of student travel to present research and to build collaborations. Follow this link to RSVP.

The Fifth Annual Research Symposium of Natural Resources Association of Graduate Students will be held Friday, April 14, 2017, from 8am-5pm, 105 Cargill Building, on the Saint Paul Campus.

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Conservation Sciences PhD student Lorraine Scotson co-authored a letter in Science (January 20, 2017), “Wildlife-snaring crisis in Asian forests.” Homemade wire snares, the most common hunting methods in Southeast Asia and many other tropical regions, is threatening saola, tigers and decimating populations of other more common mammals.

FWCB student Gabriella Barnas was awarded the Bob Fedeler Memorial Undergraduate Award by the Minnesota Chapter of The Wildlife Society at the 2017 Annual Meeting. She was selected based on academic achievements, commitment to wildlife and volunteer activities.

Alex SundvallFWCB student  Alex Sundvall, pictured right with his parents, was awarded the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union Young Birder Award for 2016. This award honors someone under 25 years old who has contributed to our knowledge of Minnesota birds or to the MOU.

FWCB student Collin Schladweiler was selected to attend the 2017 National Council for Undergraduate Research Conference. Collin will present his research, Hydrothermal Vent Particle Analysis Using Experimentally Developed SEM Methods, in Memphis, April 6-8.

FWCB Club MembersFWCB Club members,  Amanda Zak, Gabby Barnas, Jeffrey Tillery, and Maddie Grunklee, repeated as Minnesota State Champs of The Wildlife Society’s Quiz bowl held at the Annual Meeting in February.

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Professor Ray NewmanNew research findings that hybrid Eurasian water milfoil is more resistant to herbicide treatment than its invasive parental type explains why control approaches for Minnesota lakes cannot be “one-size-fits-all,” according to Professor Ray Newman. His research was recently featured in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
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Nathan BanetNate Banet (MS, Conservation Sciences, 2016) recently accepted a position as a fish biologist with the USGS Western Fisheries Research Center in Klamath Falls, Oregon. He will be working on endangered Catastomids (i.e., suckers).

Dr. Jonathan Slaght (PhD, NRSM-Wildlife, 2011) was recently inducted into the World Owl Hall of Fame. He received this special achievement award for his work on Blakiston fish owls in Russia. Emeritus FWCB Professor Rocky Gutierrez, was also inducted into the World Owl Hall of Fame for his research on spotted owls in California.

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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), galat001@umn.edu), FWCB Head, or Cynthia Cashman (612-624-7489cashman@umn.edu ) 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!

february-march photo students in thailand

FWCB Students in Thailand

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In this issue:

  • Note from the Dept. Head
  • Announcements & Events
  • Student Highlights
  • Faculty & Staff Highlights
  • Alumni Highlights
  • In Memoriam
  • Support FWCB!