February/March 2015

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Department Head, Susan M GalatowitschDear FWCB Alumni, Friends, Students, and Staff—

This spring Dr. Bruce Vondracek, FWCB’s stream ecologist, caps off his career as Professor and Assistant Unit Leader of the USGS Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. For the past 23 years Bruce has been a truly outstanding member of our department, leading a highly productive research team of graduate students and staff. He is an internationally recognized authority on stream ecology and fisheries. Bruce and his research team have published nearly 100 scientific papers and book chapters, contributing to science-based solutions for watershed land use planning, aquatic habitat quality assessments, native fish reintroductions, and stream restoration.

His body of work advancing the understanding of linkages between watershed land use and stream ecosystem dynamics is particularly noteworthy. Bruce’s research team was the first to articulate how changes to stream flow regimes caused by agricultural drainage affected ecosystem processes in stream channels. His work on riparian corridors and pollutant movement led to the realization that commonly promoted “best practices” for perennial corridor widths were too low (by 10-fold) to achieve nutrient reduction goals. Findings in one of his papers led the State of Minnesota to change the threshold for the level of fecal coliform in streams considered to be acceptable. Because of his significant body of work on agricultural impacts to stream processes, the University of Minnesota has been considered a leading institution in applied stream ecology.

photo of Bruce Vondracek and studentsMentoring graduate students has been central to Bruce Vondracek Bruce’s approach to research, further contributing to fisheries and aquatic sciences. He has trained 38 graduate students (photo right), nearly all of whom are employed as fisheries and aquatic scientists. They hold management and research positions in five federal agencies, natural resource agencies of four states, as well as non-profit organizations, local governments and industry. Bruce has also been central to our graduate programs, serving as chair of the Admissions Committee for the Conservation Biology graduate program for 17 years, as member of the Admissions Committee for the Water Resources graduate program for 13 years, and as co-Director of Graduate Studies of Conservation Biology for a year.

But all of these “stats” really don’t capture what Bruce has meant to the FWCB community. For nearly a quarter of a century, he has helped shape the culture of our department with his enthusiasm for excellent science, his dedication to students, his good cheer, and his just about perfect attendance at our monthly donut and coffee hour. While Bruce’s retirement will allow him more time to pursue his favorite past-time (fly-fishing), he’ll still be part of FWCB as an Emeritus Adjunct Professor.

Thanks, Bruce, for your many contributions to FWCB, the University of Minnesota, and Minnesota’s natural resources!

Sue's signature

Sue Galatowitsch
FWCB Department Head  

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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, 2015.

The Second Annual Conservation Biology Research Spotlight Fundraiser will be held March 30, 2015, from 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 happy hour poster session, a shared light dinner, a series of short student research talks, and a silent auction/bake sale in support of student travel to present research and to build collaborations. Be sure to RSVP here!

Stories in Curricular Innovation graphic

The University of Minnesota chose the FWCB Undergraduate Program as one of three to feature in videos highlighting “curricular innovation.” Click here to watch the (very spiffy) FWCB video.

Classes Without Quizzes: Spend the morning of Saturday, March 28 in the classroom with CFANS faculty and experts and learn about the latest, exciting research to come out of CFANS. FWCB Professor Todd Arnold will lead a session on the causes and consequences of human-induced bird mortality at this year's event.

There is also a Kids' Edition program that will provide youth K-6 the opportunity to explore nature's energy sources, discover (up close!) the differences and similarities between reptiles and amphibians, and get active while learning how nature maintains balance in order to maximize survival of the population. Bring the whole family! See full program details.

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FWCB graduate students Jonathan JaKa, Kelly Nail, and Beth Rigby have accepted Pathways internships with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. They will work for the Service part-time while finishing their degrees, and may be eligible to continue their careers with the Service after graduation. Their work will contribute to the listing decision for northern long-eared bats under the Endangered Species Act, delineating critical habitat for already listed species, and mitigation for energy development including oil and gas pipelines.

Five FWCB undergrads are participating in the CFANS Mentor Program. This program is a great way for students to learn first-hand about potential careers. Thank you, mentors, for your generous contributions of time!

Erin Arneson, Junior, FWCB (Wildlife) is mentored by Monica Rauchwarter, Naturalist at Richardson Nature Center at Three Rivers Park District.
Daniel Larson, Sophomore, FWCB (Fisheries), is mentored by Kristan Maccaroni (BS, 2009, FW), a Fisheries Specialist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Kari Madison, Senior, FWCB (Fisheries), is matched with a long-distance mentor - Steve Delehanty (BS, 1987, Wildlife), Manager of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, USFWS, Homer, AK.
Treana Mayer, Junior, FWCB (Wildlife), is mentored by Kari Strohmaier, a 3rd-year Vet Med student at the UM College of Veterinary Medicine.
Jacob Olbrich, Junior, FWCB, is matched with a long-distance mentor, Andrew Von Duyke (MS, 2009, Conservation Biology), a Wildlife biologist at the North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management in Barrow, Alaska.

photo of members of the FWCB club

Members of the FWCB Club recently attended the joint meeting of the Minnesota and Wisconsin Chapters of The Wildlife Society in Duluth, MN. Rewarding meeting experiences included listening to fascinating presentations, meeting students from other universities and wildlife professionals, and was topped off with a particularly exciting competition among eight universities in the student Quiz Bowl where they almost won first place! ! If you see quiz bowl team members (photo above), Beth Rasmussen, Melissa Boman, Jake Anderson, Dan Larson, or Maddie Grunklee, give them a congratulatory handshake.

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photo of Paul Venturelli

Assistant Professor Paul Venturelli led an independent review of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ management of Mille Lacs Lake. The report suggests that low survival of young walleye – and not overfishing – is most likely responsible for the decline in the 132,000-acre lake’s walleye population. Dr. Venturelli presented his team’s report at the DNR Roundtable on January 16. Click here to read the panel’s full report.

Assistant Professor Paul Venturelli, was an invited presenter at the Global Conference on Inland Fisheries, Rome, Italy in January. His talk was entitled, Mobile technologies and inland fisheries assessment: insight from a case-study of a popular smartphone application in Alberta, Canada.

Professor and Head, Susan Galatowitsch, was one of the keynote lecturers at the Copernicus Symposium, “Making Science Work for Sustainability,” at the University of Utrecht (Netherlands), January 13, 2015. Her talk, Ecological restoration at meaningful time scales, was part of a session focused on Global Change Ecology.

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photo of Henry Streby

Henry Streby (Ph.D. NRSM-Wildlife, 2010) and colleagues (including U.S. Geological Survey Cooperative Research Unit Leader and Adjunct Professor David Andersen) recently published a groundbreaking study in ”evacuation migration, "Tornadic storm avoidance behavior in breeding songbirds" (Current Biology). Surprisingly, their data showed that these small birds moved 100s of kilometers to avoid a severe storm, and they hypothesized that the birds reacted to very low-frequency sound waves produced by distant, approaching storms. “Everybody knows that birds can respond to changes in barometric pressure, wind speed and wind direction, and cloud cover — all the things that come with the front of a storm,” Streby said to the LA Times, “But these birds left long before any of those things happened.” It’s the first time this type of storm avoidance behavior in breeding birds has been documented. The story was featured in many major news outlets, including LA Times, National Geographic, The Guardian, and Newsweek.

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All FWCB undergraduates participate in the Summer Field Session to gain critical field skills and knowledge. The cost of attending the 3-week session, held at Cloquet Forestry Station and Itasca Biological Station in August, is a significant financial burden for many students. In addition to tuition (which cannot be covered by financial aid), every student pays about $1000 to cover costs of lodging, food, transportation, and supplies. With support from Dayton Kirkham Scholarship fund, we can cover the fees for 25% of students who attend, or 10 students each year. We would like to be able do more: please consider contributing to Summer Field Session Scholarships. If everyone who receives this newsletter contributes $40, we could cover the fees for all students this summer!

To contribute to FWCB scholarships or research, please contact Sue Galatowitsch (612-624-3242, galat001@umn.edu), FWCB Head or Cynthia Cashman (612-624-7489, cashman@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 makes a difference!

photo of golden winged warbler bird