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Spring 2015 Seminar Series: Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology

Seminars will occur Mondays from 12- 1 PM in 107 Norman Smith Hall






No Seminar




Olaf Jensen

Rutgers University

“The River Wolf and the Blue Pearl: Conservation of Endangered Salmonids in Northern Mongolia.”



Bill Sutton

Tennessee State University

“Vulnerability Assessments of Amphibian and Reptile Hotspots.”



Odbayar Tumendemberel

Mongolian Academy of Science

“Conservation and Ecology of the Gobi Bear in the Gobi Desert Ecosystem.”



Mohammed Iman Bakarr

Global Environment Facility, Washington DC

“Paradigm Shifts in the Science and Practice of Biodiversity Conservation.”



Jeff Murphy

NOAA Fisheries-Maine Field Station

“The Endangered Species Act: Interagency Consultation and Monitoring Requirements.”



No Seminar


Spring Break


No Seminar


Spring Break


Jim Sanderson

Small Wild Cat Consercation Foundation

“Small Wild Cats: Status Update and Conservation Efforts.”



John Organ

USGS Cooperative Reseearch Units Program



Adam Baukus

Gulf of Maine Research Institute

“Groundfish Trawling: Perceptions and Realities of a Complex Harvesting System.”



Janette Wallis

University of Oklahoma

“Seasonal Influence on Reproduction and Behavior in Chimpanzees.”



Allison Moody

University of Wisconsin

“Decision Support Tool for Barrier Removal in the Great Lakes Basin.”


No Seminar


NEAFWA Conference



Tom Quinn

University of Washington

“Predation by Bears on Salmon: Ecology, Behavior and Evolution.”


Please contact Abdulai Barrie (, Lisa Izzo (, Brian Rolek (, or Jonathan Watson ( to make arrangements to meet with speakers.

The University of Maine does not discriminate on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, including transgender status and gender expression, national origin, citizenship status, age, disability, genetic information or veteran’s status in employment, education, and all other programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies: Director, Office of Equal Opportunity, 101 North Stevens Hall, 581-1226.

If you are a person with a disability and need an accommodation to participate in this program, please call Lisa Izzo at 484.678.6729 to discuss your needs. Receiving requests for accommodations at least 2 days before the program provides a reasonable amount of time to meet the request, however all requests will be considered.

Rebecca Holberton and UMaine graduate student Sean Rune Featured in UMaine Today

Researchers at the University of Maine, including one of Maine’s leading bird biologists Rebecca Holberton, are interested in a feathered friend that pays a short two week visit to Maine in July, August or September.  Semipalmated sandpipers do not pass through Maine for vacation, but use their short stay as a “rest stop” for their long migration to South America. Holberton is a professor of biology for the School of Biology and Ecology at UMaine.

Holberton, with the help of SBE graduate student Sean Rune, are investigating the effects of changing habitat on sandpipers during their visit to the state of Maine.  In order to study these effects, Holberton and Rune conducted health assessments using Nano tags- tiny radio transmitters- to determine if the Maine coast is a hospitable pit stop for the birds.

Because these sandpipers are intolerant to cold, which makes the ocean an unwelcoming resting point, their stop in Maine to refuel and rest is critical before they depart on the rest of their journey.  The voyage takes between two to four days for the birds to fly 2,400 to the coast of South America.

To view the full story featured in UMaine Today click here.


Summer 2015 Internship Opportunities

Looking for experience in the field this summer? Summer Internships available for the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge!  Internships last 12-weeks (40 hr/week) beginning mid-May through September.  Starting dates are negotiable.  See descriptions below:


Natural Resource Management Botany Intern

Description: Work with refuge staff on identifying and removing invasive plants and restoring shrub-land habitats (80%): includes manual removal of invasive plants, surveying areas for new invasive plant occurrences, and propagating native plants in the refuge greenhouse. Other occasional duties include: monitoring piping plover nesting activities, including dawn and dusk chick watches, assisting visitors in our contact station, conducting wildlife surveys, assisting with salt marsh research, delivering outreach programs to refuge visitors.  For more information and application click here.


Piping Plover/ Least Tern Intern

Description:  Work with refuge staff on the management of beach nesting/roosting birds (80%): primarily monitoring piping plover nesting activities, including dawn and dusk chick watches, monitoring least tern nesting activities, developing and delivering outreach programs to beach users, and providing general beach bird conservation outreach. Other duties include occasionally assisting visitors in our contact station, conducting wildlife surveys, assisting with salt marsh research, and controlling invasive plants. For more information and application click here.


Natural Resource Management Salt Marsh Interns

Description: Work with refuge staff on a variety of duties, primarily (80%) working in small teams measuring and surveying salt marsh habitat parameters, carrying heavy equipment and installing Surface Elevation Tables (SETs), entering data, and maintaining project equipment. Other duties include occasionally assisting visitors in our contact station, developing and delivering outreach talks to the public, conducting wildlife surveys and assisting with invasive plant control.  For more information and application click here.


For additional information:

Call the refuge office at (207) 646-9226 or send and email to

Michelle Smith’s Research Featured in Article named Best of 2014 in Science

According to an article published in Science Online, titled “Lectures Aren’t Just Boring, They’re Ineffective, Too, Study Finds” active learning methods are significantly more successful compared to traditional stand-and-deliver lecture techniques. Michelle Smith, assistant professor of biology and research for the STEM Education Center at the University of Maine, coauthored the meta-analysis study that contributed to this article, which was listed the third most read by ScienceInsider in 2014


The article explains that although there is no single definition for active learning procedures, some successful approaches include answering questions by using clickers, calling on individuals randomly, or having students talk out concepts as a group in order to reach a consensus.


The paper, which appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, titled “Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics,” documented that active learning leads to increases in examination performance that would lead to a half letter grade increase in average grades.

School of Biology and Ecology Spring 2015 Seminar Series Schedule


Seminars will be held on Fridays at 3:10 pm in Murray Hall, Room 102 unless otherwise noted.  Light refreshments served at 3:00 pm.


Jan. 16:     Dr. Mindi Summers, University of Maine, “Untangling the evolutionary history of a marine symbiosis: Diversity and relationships among crinoids and myzostomes”
Hosted by: Dr. Smith

Jan. 23:  Dr. Xiao Xiao, University of Maine, “Process and constraints-based approaches for macro ecological patterns.”
Hosted by: Brian McGill

Jan. 30: Biological Assessment Exercise: Questions, answers, and discussion of evolution and ecology.
Hosted by: Michelle Smith

Feb. 6:   Dr. Hadley Horch, Bowdoin College, “He said, She Said: Sexually dimorphic responses to injury in the auditory system of the cricket”
Hosted by: Kristy Townsend

Feb. 13:  Dr. Nishi Rajakaruni, College of the Atlantic, “Serpentine: A model habitat for evolutionary studies” 
Hosted by: Dulcinea Groff

Feb. 20:  Dr. Jim Mead, East Tennessee State University, “The Gray fossil Site; a Late Miocene Sub-Tropical Forest in the Appalachians of Tennessee”
Hosted by: Jeff Martin; Cosponsor: CCI

Feb. 27:  Dr. Karen James, Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, “Combining citizen science and DNA-assisted species identification to enable “a new kind of ecology”.
Hosted by: Jacquelyn Gill

Mar. 20:  Dr. Sandra de Urioste-Stone, School of Forest Resources, University of Maine, “Stakeholder perceptions on vulnerability and adaptive capacity of tourism destinations to climate change in Maine.”
Hosted by: Ben Seliger

Mar. 27:  Dr. Line Lapointe, Université Laval, Canada, “Physiological control of some plant traits that impede cultivation”
Hosted by: Dr. Drummond and Alex Bajcz

Apr. 3:  Dr. Katie Hinde, Harvard University, “Mother’s Milk: Food, Medicine and Signal.”
Hosted by: Jacquelyn Gill

Apr. 10:  Dr. Claudio Gratton, University of Wisconsin-Madison, TBA.
Hosted by: Hamish Greig

Apr. 17:  Amanda Klemmer (PhD Candidate), University of Canterbury, New Zealand, “Breaking through ecosystem boundaries: cross-ecosystem subsidies alter food webs and interactions.
Hosted by: Dr. Greig

Apr. 24:  Dr. John Hawks, University of Wisconsin-Madison, “New developments in modern human origins.”
Hosted by: Jacquelyn Gill; co-sponsor Anthropology

May 1:  Dr. Meghan Duffy, University of Michigan, “Infectious diseases and food webs: links between Daphnia, parasites, and the larger food web.”
Hosted by: Dr. McGill

Brian McGill’s Blog ranked fourth most Influential in Bloggers’ Survey

School of Biology and Ecology Professor Brian McGill’s Ecology blog titled “Dynamic Ecology“ has been ranked one of the most influential Science Blogs, according to a University of Michigan news release.  The survey was conducted by the science blog “From the Lab Bench, a blog about all things science,” and consisted of 600 respondents. McGill is one of three co-authors for the blog, with the occasional guest post.  The purpose of the blog, explained by co-author Jeremy Fox, associate professor of population ecology at the University of Calgary, is to post ideas, opinions, commentary, advice, and humor that he hopes may interest his fellow academic ecologists and their students.


In academics, it’s important to have a conversation going with individuals working on the same issue, explains McGill.   “This blog enables people working in Ecology to communicate with each other on issues that previously were only discussed during conferences.  Blogging has become a critical tool for many in academics and opens the door to a more informal scientific discussion that has the capability to span around the world.  To read an introductory post from McGill about why he chooses to blog, and the topics he chooses to blog about, click here.


McGill is an associate professor of biological sciences and is jointly appointed with the sustainability solutions initiative at the University of Maine.  His research focuses on large-scale ecology and global change.  In May, McGill co-published a comprehensive analysis of global biodiversity change and species loss in Science magazine.


Congratulations to McGill and co-authors for their acknowledgements!


UMaine Researchers Transforming Science Education: Michelle Smith Featured in NSF Article

Dr. Michelle Smith, assistant professor of biology and researcher for the Maine Center for Research in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education at the University of Maine, was recently featured in an article for the National Science Foundation.  The article, titled Rules of engagement: Transforming the teaching of college-level science, explained how Smith uses her background in molecular biology to create teaching strategies that enhance education for students and faculty.  Smith’s unique teaching philosophy is centered around principles such as interactive learning, peer discussion, and active learning activities in large-scale courses.  She leads faculty professional development sessions on campus in which she encourages educators to use active learning and peer discussion in their classrooms.

Many professors across campus have adopted Smith’s strategies on teaching and her education research has been spreading across the country.  According to a report by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the importance of education research has become quite apparent, citing that fewer than 40 percent of students who begin college in a STEM field finish with a degree in one.

Dr. Farahad Dastoor, professor of biology, was also highlighted in the NSF article for his student-centered teaching strategies.  In his 800-student introductory biology course, Dastoor encourages active participation by using clickers to facilitate group discussion.  Outside of the classroom, he engages students by providing them with thought-provoking questions both before and after a concept is introduced.

Smith leads a meeting for professional development in Spring 2014

The NSF article highlights the numerous achievements of UMaine education researchers, and brings pride to many.  “What a wonderful article…quite the tribute to Dr. Smith and Dr. Farahad, our bio teaching teams, and all at UMaine supporting our STEM initiative,” said Dr. Eleanor Groden, previous director of the School of Biology and Ecology. “Thank-you for all that you do!”

To read the full story by the National Science Foundation click here.


New Director of the School of Biology and Ecology: Dr. Andrei Alyokhin

The School of Biology and Ecology is pleased to welcome our new Director, Dr. Andrei Alyokhin.  Alyokhin, Professor of Applied Entomology, assumed his position at the beginning of this spring semester.

Alyokhin received his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1999, and has been a valued and committed member of the department since 2001.  During his time at UMass Amherst, he performed research on the Colorado potato beetle before spending two years as a post-doctoral researcher in Hawaii studying invasive insects and biological control.  While in Hawaii, a job at UMaine became available.  The position was seeking a potato entomologist who had experience working with aphid vectors.  In January 2001 he was offered the position, where to this day he continues his research on potatoes.  His current research, in collaboration with cooperative extension as well as other universities across the United States, is looking at potato viruses transmitted by aphids.  Along with this research, he is researching the evolution of insecticide resistance in the Colorado potato beetle.

His research laboratory is split between the UMaine campus, and the Aroostook Research Farm located in Presque Isle, Maine. This farm is the center for agricultural research and development for Maine’s potato industry.  The research and outreach programs provide research-based information essential for Maine’s potato industry.

Alyokhin is excited to begin his new position, but explains that he has big shoes to fill.  He will be assuming the position from Dr. Eleanor Groden, who held the role of of the SBE director for eight years.

“I think the department has been run very well under Dr. Groden’s leadership, so I hope to continue running it well,” said Alyokhin.   “We have an excellent research program, it is extremely diverse…from studying reasons for muscle degeneration to looking at blueberry diseases.  We have many opportunities for growth…I’m excited to continue the tradition of excellence.”