Environmental Science News Archive 

bets Alumna Betsy Evans Leading the Way as Vulture Research Biologist

Betsy Evans is a Summer 2020 graduate of the Integrative Biology Ph.D. program in Environmental Science. Evans served as lead author on a study on wood storks, which was recently published, titled, "Urban food subsidies reduce natural food limitations and reproductive costs for a wetland bird."  Read more.



storn Hot Dogs, Chicken Wings, and City Living Helped Wood Storks Thrive

Betsy Evans, Ph.D., an alumna of the College of Science, and Dale Gawlik, Ph.D., a professor and director of FAU’s Environmental Science program, were published in Scientific Reports for a study on how wetland bird species persist and even thrive in an urban environment.    Read more.

2019 ES Student Retreat

At the Annual Environmental Science Retreat in 2019, the keynote speaker was Dr. Alan Wilson, Associate Professor in the School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences at Auburn University. Dr. Wilson is a Ph.D. ecologist and a former program director at the National Science Foundation. He has published over 50 papers in the past 16 years on cyanobacteria and trophic interactions in freshwater and he serves on the editorial boards of both Nature Scientific Reports and Harmful Algae. Among numerous research awards and honors, he also teaches an effective graduate-level meta-analysis course and maintains a highly active undergraduate research program, including an NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at Auburn. 

ES students presented their research and discussed their work with faculty, fellow students and community professionals during a lively poster session held in the Great Hall of the Marleen and Harold Forkas Alumni Center on the Boca Raton campus. The Charles E. Roberts Environmental Science Student Research Awards were presented for two categories,  thesis research awardees receive $500 toward travel to a scientific conference and thesis proposal awardees receive $50 toward membership in a professional society.  Tasso Cocoves received an award for his thesis poster "Importance of Freshwater Prey for Nesting White Ibis in Southern Florida Wetlands" and Jacquelyn Evans received an award for her thesis poster "Effects of Disruption of the Seasonal Drying Pattern on the Physical Condition and Survival of Small Heron Nestlings". Danielle Drumheller and Andrew Medhurst received awards for their thesis proposal posters. 

Dr. Stephen Nowicki gives a talk on animal cognition and behavior

Dr. Stephen Nowicki of Duke University is one of the most prolific and respected researchers in the field of behavioral ecology. FAU biology professor Dr. Rindy Anderson hosted his talk on animal behavior and cognition, and his studies using songbirds as a model system to investigate the categorical perception of auditory and visual stimuli. 

An evening with Doug Tallamy: Bringing Nature Home

Dr. Douglas Tallamy, author of "Bringing Nature Home", will share how growing native plants in our own yards, gardens, and local greenspaces gives us the chance—and the responsibility—to play an essential role in the survival of native wildlife.  

Dr. Tallamy, an inspiring and engaging speaker, is the author of “Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants.” He is Chair of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, where his chief research interests are to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities. 

This special event is being presented by Audubon Everglades, the Atala Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association, FAU Pine Jog Environmental Education Center, Mounts Botanical Garden of Palm Beach County, and the Palm Beach County Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society. 

ES Student Research Retreat

The Annual Environmental Science Retreat in 2018 was held at the spectacular FPL Manatee Lagoon in West Palm Beach. Dr. Ariana Sutton-Grier, Director of Science at The Nature Conservancy, presented her keynote address "Natural Infrastructure, Blue Carbon, and Biodiversity and Human Health: Science to Support Conservation, Policies, and Decision Making". 


The Charles E. Roberts Environmental Science Student Research Awards were presented for two categories,  thesis research and thesis proposal.  Richard Jones was awarded first place for his thesis poster "Ecology of Barracudina in the Northern Gulf of Mexicao" and will receive $1000 toward travel to a scientific conference.  Emily Kohler won second place for her thesis poster "Diet & prey selectivity of the Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) in coastal South Florida" and will receive $500 for travel. 


Elizabeth Lago won the first place award for her thesis proposal and will receive $100 toward membership in a professional society or subscription to a scientific journal. Jacquelyn Evans won second place for her proposal, "Physiological responses of wading bird nestlings to environmental changes in a highly managed lake ecosystem". 


Dr. Beth Middleton, U.S. Geological Survey, Speaks at 2017 Environmental Science Retreat

Dr. Beth Middleton, a renowned research ecologist with the Wetland and Aquatic Research Center, U.S. Geological Survey in Lafayette, Louisiana, was the keynote speaker at the 2017 Environmental Science Retreat. In her talk, “Whole river solutions to climate and land-use problems” she provided insight into how whole river approaches can solve environmental problems on floodplains, and how wetland restoration has been complicated by land-use and climate change. Her book "Wetland restoration, flood pulsing and disturbance dynamics" received the Merit Award of the Society of Wetland Scientists. She has worked with managers around the world to determine large scale causes of environmental problems, and potential solutions (i.e., Whole River Approaches).

Environmental Science students presented their work at the event, co-sponsored by the Environmental Science Program and the Center for Environmental Studies. Daniel Alempijevic won First Place and Emilie Kohler won Second Place awards for poster presentations of their Master's Thesis research. Each will receive $500 for travel to a scientific conference. Erin Binkley and Tasso Cocoves tied for the First Place Award for poster presentations of their thesis research Proposals, and will each receive $50 toward membership in a professional society.

ES Student Sarah Huff is 2016 Florida Sea Grant Scholar

Sarah Huff is earning her master’s degree in Environmental Science at FAU, where she is studying the effects of Sphaeroma terebrans, a tiny but highly destructive, mangrove-boring isopod that causes extensive damage to the prop roots of red mangroves. Learn More>

ES Students Win Recognition for Research in 2016

Environmental Science Master's thesis students Ashley Jackson won second place and Jenna May won third place for their poster presentations at the 2016 meeting of the Florida Wildlife Society

At the FAU Environmental Science Retreat, ES students Lisa Reger won first place place and Daniel Hagood won second place for their poster presentations.

Students learn how to deal with pythons

Populations of the non-native Burmese python have become established in the wild in southern Florida. ES students whose work in the Everglades, Big Cypress and other natural areas could bring them in contact with pythons got hands-on training to learn how to handle and capture these these large constrictors. Learn more >

Out of Equilibrium in a Warming World: Glaciers and Sea Level Change

Dr. Alex Gardner, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will present the fourth talk of the CES Environmental Science and Policy Lecture Series on May 3, 2016 at 3:00 PM Learn More>

Environmental Science students win recognition for research

Environmental Science graduate student Corey Callaghan (advisor Dale Gawlik) won first place in Environmental Science at the 6th Annual Graduate Research Day in March 2015.

Environmental Science graduate student Natasha Warraich (advisor Jeanette Wyneken) won first place in Marine Science at the 4th Annual Graduate Research Day in March 2013 and Matt Denton(advisor Jay Baldwin) won Second Place in the Environmental Science category.

At the Annual Environmental Science Retreat, Caitlin Bovery (advisor Jeanette Wyneken) won the first place award for the poster presentation of her thesis research, entitled "Spatial and temporal distributions of sea turtles within the Florida Current and surrounding waters and their implications for oceanic energy development." Jerilyn Ashworth's poster on her Directed independent Study Project, entitled "Restoration of a Critically Eroded Shoreline: A Case Study of Martin County's Bathtub Beach, Stuart, Florida" won first place in the non-thesis category.

ES graduate students Leo Calle and Rich Botta (advisor Dale Gawlik) presented their research on wading birds at the Florida Chapter of the Wildlife Society conference. ES undergraduate Sarah Cronell presented her research at FAU's Undergraduate Research Symposium in March, and undergraduate Samantha Sardes will be presenting her work on an invasive non-native Mimosa at the Annual Symposium of the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council in May.

Workshop on Bayesian Inference and Hierarchical Modeling

The ES Program sponsored a special workshop on "Bayesian Inference and Hierarchical Modeling" by Dr. Robert M. Dorazio, USGS. Researchers and students from throughout South Florida attended the two-day workshop at the Boca Raton Campus on the use of Bayesian statistical methodologies in analyses of biological data using the R statistical program

Student's photos selected in SWS calendar competition

ES Master's student James Johnson was a winner in the calendar photo competition for the South Atlantic Chapter of the Society of Wetland Scientists. Click here to see his photos for Feb and June in the SWS calendar.

ES Faculty present their research and develop partnerships during a visit to China

FAU Biology and Environmental Science faculty Drs. Ed Proffitt and Donna Devlin spent three weeks in the People’s Republic of China at the invitation of Dr. Liao Baowen, sponsored by the Tropical Forestry Research Institute (TFRI) in Guangzhou, China. During the visit, they presented multiple seminars on restoration ecology and mangrove and salt marsh research at FAU. In addition, Dr. Proffitt gave a lecture on the use of structural equation modeling to analyze monitoring data. While there they visited Dr. Liao’s mangrove research sites at three distant locations including Hainan Island, the southernmost and most tropical part of the PRC met with managers and government representatives and discussed future cooperative research ventures and proposals. In addition, they began planning for a potentially exciting new FAU graduate student program which would provide funds for students to conduct a portion of their research at the TFRI. This trip was a follow-up to an earlier visit in 2008 by Dr. Liao and two of his post-docs to the Proffitt & Devlin lab and research sites in the Indian River Lagoon.

Everglades restoration funding gets another boost

After displaying an impressive amount of dis-functionality, the House of Representatives came together last week and passed, with overwhelming bipartisan support, the 2013 Water Resources and Development Act . The House version of the Act authorizes $8 billion in water-related projects, of which 20% is directed to Everglades restoration. The House and Senate versions (authoring $12 billion in funding) still need to be reconciled, but given the strong bipartisan support that Everglades restoration has historically enjoyed, there is good reason to be optimistic.

Our ability to receive 20% of the funding for our nation's water-related projects underscores the uniqueness of the massive environmental project we have in our back yard. It is worth noting that in some ways the scenario we just saw unfold is not without precedent. The House of Representatives that led the 1990s government shutdown under Newt Gingrich also showed strong bipartisan support for Everglades restoration, at a time like today, where there was little bipartisan support for anything else.

The diverse faculty of the FAU Environmental Science Program does research that supports the restoration of the Everglades and its associated estuaries (Indian River Lagoon, Florida Bay, and Caloosahatchee). Our agency funding partners have noticed. Just a few of those faculty who have gotten funding for such research in recent years include Jay Baldwin, Brian Benscoter, Len Berry, Nate Dorn, Xavier Comas, Donna Devlin, Dale Gawlik, Dennis Hanisak, Colin Hughes, Marguerite Koch, Brian LaPointe, Bill Louda, Scott Markwith, Diana Mitsova, Greg O'corry-Crowe, Dianne Owen, Ed Proffitt, Bill Louda, Zhixiao Xie, Xing-Hai Zang. Many more of our faculty stand in a good position to secure future funding. Let's hope the positive things coming out of the federal government continue to play to our strengths.

Five ES students defend theses on a wide range of research topics during the 2012-2013 academic year

ES Master's student Stevee Kennard (advisor Scott Markwith) successfully defended her thesis entitled "Spatio-Temporal Modeling of Seed Dispersal and Aquatic Plant Community Restoration in the Kissimmee River" in March 2013.

ES Master's student Lisa Vlaming(advisor Brian LaPointe) successfully defends her thesis entitled "Comparative Ecophysiology of Bloom-forming Macroalgae in the Indian River Lagoon, FL" in March 2013.

ES Master's student James Johnson (advisor Brian Bensoter) successfully defends his thesis entitled "Estimating the Vulnerability of Everglades Peat to Combustion" in November 2012.

ES Master's student Garren Mezza (advisor Scott Markwith) successfully defends his thesis entitled "Analysis of Kissimmee River Floodpasin Seed Dispersal for Vegetation Community Restoration" in November 2012.

ES Master's student Courtney Kehler (advisor Brian LaPointe)successfully defends her thesis entitled "Phosphorus Limitation in Reef Macroalgae of South Florida" in November 2012.

FAU SEEDS Chapter Hosts Fourth Annual Bioblitz at the FAU Ecological Preserve

The FAU Chapter of the undergraduate student group, SEEDS (Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity & Sustainability) hosted theThird Annual Bioblitz at the FAU Ecological Preserve on April 14, 2013, as part of the SEEDS National Coordinated Bioblitz. Undergraduate and graduate ES students helped in data collection and led educational tours of the "Tortuga Trail" through the FAU Preserve.

Learn more about FAU SEEDS. . .

Environmental Science students win recognition for research

Environmental Science graduate student Carrie Boudreau(advisor Tara Root) won second place in the 8th Annual College of Science Graduate Research Day in 2012 for her work on surrogate technologies for estimating suspended sediment concentrations.

FAU graduate and undergraduate students also presented their research at the Florida Chapter of the Wildlive Society conference. The meeting was co-hosted by theFlorida Exotic Pest Plant Counciland featured a symposium on Invasive Wildlife, a plenary session on Invasive Species Policy, oral and poster presentations, field trips, and workshops.

Jessica Klassan (advisor ES Director, Dale Gawlik) won the award for best student presentation at the FWS/FLEPPC conference for her work on prey availability and foraging strategies of wading birds in the Everglades. Other students presenting at the conference included Jennifer Chastant and Leo Calle (advisor Dale Gawlik) and Samantha Sardes (advisors Dianne Owen, Xing-Hai Zhang).


Students defend theses on oyster reef restoration and freshwater fish communities

ES Master's student Elizabeth Salewski (advisor Ed Proffitt) successfully defended her thesis entitled "Effects fo Freshwater Discharges and Habitat Architecture on Oyster Reef Community Development and Diversity" in June 29, 2012.

ES Master's student Jacob Bransky (advisor Nate Dorn) successfully defends his thesis entitled "Diet Variation and the Consumptive Effects of Native Centrarchids on Benthic Macroinvertebrates in Wetlands" on July 6, 2012.

FAU Students Win Recognition for Achievements in Environmental Science

FAU graduate and undergraduate students working with Environmental Science faculty have won state and regional recognition in 2011 for their outstanding work.

Hilde Zenil (advisor Ed Proffitt ) won the Outstanding Graduate Student Poster Paper at the Florida Academy of Sciences for her cutting edge research on the use of acoustics to monitor oyster reef restoration. 

Bryan Botson (advisor Dale Gawlik) won the best student paper at the Florida Chapter of the Wildlife Society conference for his large scale work on aquatic prey communities in the Everglades.

Undergraduates Liz Barraco, Jasmine Coyle, and Kelsey Crane won second place in the Sustainable Communities Earth Day competition sponsored by the Weppner Center for Civic Engagement. Working with ES faculty (Evelyn Frazier, Dianne Owen) and FAU student organizations (SEEDS, Mission Green) they inaugurated a new nature trail and developed educational activities for "The Living Learning Laboratory" at the FAU Preserve on the Boca Raton campus.

2010 Greater Everglades Ecosystem Restoration Conference

Students and faculty in the Environmental Science Program presented their research at the 2010 GEER Policy, Planning, and Science Conference, “The Greater Everglades: A Living Laboratory of Change”.

The GEER is a forum that brings together private, public and tribal decision-makers, engineers, planners, resource managers, and scientists to share their knowledge and challenges concerning the restoration of the Greater Everglades. Presentations by ES Students and Faculty ranged from "Biogenic Gas Dynamics in Peat Soils" to "Anthropogenic Resource Utilization in the Diet of the Sacred Ibis. 

Several students and faculty presented work that was supported by grants from the FAU Environmental Science Everglades Fellowship Initiative, funded by the National Park Service.

FAU Students Team Up for the Chekika Island Restoration Project

FAU students are working with managers at Everglades National Park on the Chekika Island Restoration Project, with funding from the Environmental Science Program and the Department of Biological Sciences.

Before Chekika Island became part of Everglades National Park in 1991, many invasive exotic trees and vines were introduced that continue to threaten native habitats. As part of the Chekika project, FAU students are helping to restore the site by removing invasive exotic plants and re-establishing the native plant communities that are home to birds, mammals, reptiles and rare butterfly species such as the Red Admiral and the Tropical Buckeye.