UGA sends 38 faculty, student presenters to Ecological Society of America meeting

Athens, Ga. – What drives rabies virus transmission in vampire bats? What is the current status of isolated wetlands in southwest Georgia? How will the transition from confinement dairy farms to pasture-based dairy farms affect carbon cycling in the southeastern U.S.? These are just a few of the research questions that will be addressed by students, faculty and postdoctoral associates from the University of Georgia at the upcoming 97th annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America Aug. 5-10 in Portland, Ore.

The Odum School of Ecology has the most attendees from UGA with 16 presenting at the meeting. They are among 38 from UGA who will lead sessions and present papers and posters on topics such as disease ecology, biogeochemistry, aquatic ecology, woody plants and ecosystem management.

“Ecology is all about diversity and change,” said John Gittleman, dean of the Odum School. “It’s great to see that the Odum School is well represented by a broad diversity of approaches, problems and researchers at different levels of their careers. It’s also very gratifying that our unit continues the legacy of Gene Odum and the many faculty who have served such key roles in the history and premier influence of ESA.”

Other UGA colleges sending scientists include the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources (13), the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences (five) and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (four).

Postdoctoral associate Daniel Streicker of the Odum School will present his recent study of rabies in vampire bats in Peru. Streicker and his colleagues found that the common practice of culling bats in an effort to control the disease not only didn’t reduce rabies exposure in bat colonies, it might even be counterproductive. These findings aim to help public health officials in Peru to devise more effective, ecologically based rabies control strategies.

Other highlights from the group are Warnell School graduate students Anna McKee, who will speak on the impact of heat waves, drought stress and elevated carbon dioxide on northern red oak seedlings, and Kerrie Anne Lloyd, who will present a poster on “KittyCam: A new look at suburban free-roaming cat predation.” From the Franklin College, doctoral student Luke Snyder will talk on assessing disturbance severities from his research of wind and cumulative disturbance data from Eastern deciduous forests. In the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, assistant professor Aaron Thompson will speak on “High-amplitude redox fluctuations prime tropical forest soils for rapid iron reduction rates.”

And, back in the Odum School, doctoral student Megan Machmuller has studied how the transition from confinement to pasture-based dairy farming-a growing trend in the eastern U.S.-affects soil health and carbon cycling. Machmuller sampled soils on southeastern Georgia farmland converted from conventional row crops to pasture for dairy cattle. She will present data suggesting that the conversion is likely to improve the soil’s health as well as its capacity for storing carbon.

Presenting either oral or poster presentations from the Odum School are Streicker, Machmuller, postdoctoral associate Kelly M. Andersen, doctoral student Peter Baas, masters student Gina M. Botello, professor Alan P. Covich, doctoral student Tyler R. Kartzinel, doctoral student Kimberly M. Kellett, postdoctoral associate Andrew M. Kramer, postdoctoral associate Sean P. Maher, postdoctoral associate Suzanne M. O’Regan, associate professor John Pickering, assistant professor Richard P. Shefferson, doctoral student Marcia Snyder, masters student O. Stribling Stuber and assistant professor Nina Wurzburger.

Presenting from the Warnell School are McKee, Lloyd, assistant research scientist Mary Anne McGuire, doctoral student Angela Romito, distinguished research professor Robert Teskey, postdoctoral research associate Doug Aubrey, assistant professor Kamal Gandhi, doctoral student April Conway, masters student Cody Luedtke, professor Daniel Markewitz, doctoral student Wang Ying, doctoral student Yin Jingjing and doctoral student Myung-bok Lee.

Presenting from the Franklin College are Snyder, postdoctoral associate Kyung-Ah Koo, postdoctoral associate Daniel Keymer, associate professor Chris Peterson and doctoral student Caitlin Ishibashi.

Presenting from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences are Thompson, research scientist Kevin Taylor Cyle, professor Nick Hill and graduate student Daniel Pitt.