UW-Green Bay students present research funded by Cofrin Research Grants, March 7

Subjects include endangered species, ecological indicators and green exercise

GREEN BAY – Five University of Wisconsin-Green Bay students will report on research conducted in three UW-Green Bay natural areas at the 28th Annual Cofrin Student Symposium from 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 7, in the Christie Theatre of the University Union.

Since 1987, more than 150 students have been funded by the program through an endowment established by the Cofrin family. The program will also include an announcement of the recipient of the Paul and Thea Sager Scholarship for excellence in scientific writing. The event is free and open to the public.

Students in the program carry out research projects related to the UW-Green Bay’s Cofrin Memorial Arboretum and other University-managed natural areas in northeastern Wisconsin. Funding is provided by a student research grant program established by an endowment from the families of Dr. David Cofrin and the late John Cofrin. The Land Trust Grant was established by UW-Green Bay faculty and staff Michael Draney and Vicki Medland to support student research at other natural areas in northeast Wisconsin. Grants of up to $1,000 are awarded competitively based on student proposals and are open to all students at UW-Green Bay. Students’ projects, carried out in collaboration with faculty members, must contribute to improving understanding of the ecology, history and appreciation of the selected natural area(s). The projects also give students experience in properly designing and carrying out research. Students interested in applying for grants for the upcoming year should call Vicki Medland at 920-465-2342 or visit www.uwgb.edu/biodiversity/ for application guidelines. Applications are due on May 1, 2017.  Four students will present their research at the 28th Annual Symposium.

  • Vanessa Brotske, pollination of the federally endangered dwarf lake iris
  • Willson Gaul, using dragonflies and damselflies to monitor the health of natural areas
  • Katie McDonald, using fungi as an indicator of the health of forest ecosystems
  • Jeremiah Shrovnal, Bat Diversity and Abundance in the coastal zone of lower Green Bay, Lake Michigan
  • James Wise, studying physical activity in natural environments and its relation to improved health

Brotske, Gaul and McDonald are all enrolled in the Master’s Program in Environmental Science & Policy (ES&P). Wise and Shrovnal are undergraduates in the Human Biology program. More on their research follows.

Vanessa Brotske holding endangered dwarf lake iris seeds at Toft Point
Vanessa Brotske holding endangered dwarf lake iris seeds at Toft Point

Little is known about species interactions and factors affecting seed germination and seedling survival in federally endangered dwarf lake iris (Iris lacustris). Although this plant used to be common along the shores of Lake Michigan, it is now restricted to only a few locations including UW Green Bay’s Toft Point in northern Door County. Vanessa Brotske’s thesis research aims to identify visiting pollinators, identify species involved in dispersal and predation of seeds, and to determine the effect of soil scarification on seed germination and seedling establishment. The plant has evolved a unique seed dispersal strategy: they produce high nutrient parcels on the outside of their seeds that attract ants, who then take the seeds back to their nests. The ants eat the parcels, but discard the seeds into their dump areas, where the seeds can sprout and grow into new colonies.

Willson Gaul conducted surveys of dragonflies and damselflies in order to establish regular monitoring areas for these important indicator species in the Lower Green Bay and Fox River Area of Concern, including UW-Green Bay natural areas. An “Area of Concern” is a geographic region where human activities have negatively affected the natural area. Species like dragonflies can help scientists to track improvement. The results of his study will provide a species list that will be shared with the Wisconsin Odonata Survey, sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

UW-Green Bay has contributed to bat monitoring efforts for nearly a decade. Jeremiah Shrovnal’s study continues this tradition by assessing bat populations in the coastal zone of lower Green Bay, including shoreline habitats in two UW-Green Bay managed natural areas (Cofrin Arboretum and Point au Sable Nature Reserve), especially areas in the Lower Green Bay and Fox River Area of Concern (AOC). The data will provide valuable information about the importance of the coastal zone for both resident and migratory bats.

Understanding the fungi that live in forest ecosystems is crucial to making good conservation and land management decisions. Because many trees and other plants depend on fungi for nutrients and water, those fungi can be used to indicate the health of the forest ecosystem. Katie McDonald conducted a survey of the fungi in two forested UW-Green Bay natural areas to compare differences between communities. The results of this study will contribute to efforts identify and categorize fungal species in the Midwest. This study will also provide baseline data on rare and endangered species in Northeast Wisconsin and will set the stage for future research and conservation of fungi.

“Green” exercise is a relatively new field of study that involves physical activity undertaken in natural environments. Recent studies have suggested that nature based recreation may improve physical and mental health. Undergraduate Human Biology major James Wise is taking advantage of the UW-Green Bay’s unique exercise facilities to further study how “green” exercise might provide enhanced health benefits. He is comparing heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol stress-hormone levels in volunteers who ran on an indoor treadmill or on trails in the Cofrin Memorial Arboretum. Although his research is ongoing, Wise will discuss the merits of green exercise, which might motivate individuals to exercise more often due to the relief of stress, anxiety, and depression. It may also provide an alternative to therapeutic drugs in the case of mental illness and may reduce heart rate recovery and improve athletic performance.

About the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is a comprehensive public institution offering undergraduate and graduate programs to 6,700 students. The University transforms lives and communities through exceptional and award-winning teaching and research, innovative learning opportunities, and a problem-solving approach to education. For more information, visit www.uwgb.edu.

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Student research contributes to conservation efforts at UWGB, symposium is March 1st

GREEN BAY – Five University of Wisconsin-Green Bay students will report on research conducted in three UW-Green Bay natural areas at the 27th annual Cofrin Student Symposium from 2 to 4 p.m., Tuesday, March 1st in the Christie Theatre of the University Union, 2420 Nicolet Drive, Green Bay, Wis.

Since 1987, more than 150 students have been funded by the program through an endowment established by the Cofrin family. One of the five students will be recognized as the recipient of the Paul and Thea Sager Scholarship for excellence in scientific writing. The event is free and open to the public.

Students in the program carry out research projects related to the UW-Green Bay’s Cofrin Memorial Arboretum and other University-managed natural areas in Northeast Wisconsin. Funding is provided by a student research grant program established by an endowment from the families of Dr. David Cofrin and the late John Cofrin. The Land Trust Grant was established by Natural and Applied Science professors Michael Draney and Vicki Medland to support student research at other natural areas in northeast Wisconsin. Grants of up to $1,000 are awarded competitively based on student proposals and are open to all students at UW-Green Bay. Students’ projects, carried out in collaboration with faculty members, must contribute to improving understanding of the ecology, history, and appreciation of the selected natural area(s). The projects also give students experience in properly designing and carrying out research. Students interested in applying for grants for the upcoming year should call Vicki Medland at 920-465-2342 or visit www.uwgb.edu/biodiversity/ for application guidelines. Applications are due on May 1, 2016.

Four students will present their research at the 27th annual Cofrin Student Symposium.

Graduate student Brandi Deptula (Menasha, Wis.) used two types of molecular markers to compare native and non-native populations of Phragmites australis. Her research will help identify and document locations of invasive populations, as well as, historically declining native populations. This study will help land managers to identify areas that are of a higher priority for control of invasive species.

Burning is often used for management of Phragmites. Undergraduate Jeremiah Shrovnal (Green Bay, Wis.) examined the impacts of burning on spider abundance and diversity in burned and unburned wetlands at Ken Euers Natural Area. He found that spider abundance was much higher in recently burned areas. His survey also turned up the first known female specimens of a clubionid spider species that is new to science.

Many studies have examined the relationship between plants and pollinators, yet little is known about the third party species that take advantage of this mutualism. Nectar-dwelling yeast and bacteria have been shown to be pervasive and often abundant in several plant species. Graduate student Samantha Nellis (Peshtigo, Wis.) is using DNA techniques to identify and study these organisms in order to gain a better understanding of the role of microorganisms in the nectar of five flowering species growing in Northeast Wisconsin.

Lichens are have long been known to be sensitive to air pollutants, but are relatively difficult to identify. Undergraduate Maxwell Larsen (Northport, Wis.) has taken on the challenge of collecting and identifying the lichens of the Cofrin Arboretum in order to establish baseline data to evaluate long-term effects of pollution on lichens. The results of his study will provide a species list and specimens that will be deposited in the Fewless Herbarium that will increase knowledge of the biodiversity as he will be able to accurately assess the number and distribution of local species.

The Sager Scholarship for excellence in scientific writing will be presented to undergraduate Reed Heintzkill (Green Bay, Wis.) for his laboratory report, “Characterization of poly(3-hexylthiophene)(P3HT) through UV-Vis absorbance and experimental HOMO/LUMO energy level determination.” His report was based on the final requirement for Asst. Professor Jeremy Intemann’s Instrumental Analysis course. The assignment allowed Heintzkill to hone his skills in scientific writing while gaining a better understanding of the electronic properties of polymers used in organic photovoltaic cells.

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Cofrin Student Symposium to feature six researchers

Six UW-Green Bay students will report on research conducted at University-managed natural areas at the 26th annual Cofrin Student Symposium from 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 3, in the Christie Theatre. The students and their projects:


• Amber Konrad, Sturgeon Bay, GIS map of the distribution of ant mounds and impact on soil and ecology;
• Linda Vang, Green Bay, relationship of harvestmen and wildflower seeds;
• Lindsay Hansen of Kiel, migratory bird use of Kingfisher Farm’s Lake Michigan shoreline;
• Cassondra Kollatz, Burlington, zooplankton, water levels and invasive burns along Green Bay shoreline;
• Jacqueline Corrigan and Tessa Moeller, Seymour, impact of the harsh winter of 2013-2014 on survival rate and distribution of snakes in the Arboretum.

For more details on the projects and program.

Student research contributes to conservation efforts at UW-Green Bay natural areas

Six University of Wisconsin-Green Bay students will report on research conducted at three 
UW-Green Bay natural areas at the 26th annual Cofrin Student Symposium from 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 3, in the Christie Theatre in the University Union. More than 150 students over nearly three decades have received funding through the program made possible by an endowment established by the Cofrin family. The program also will include recognition of the recipient of the Paul and Thea Sager Scholarship for excellence in scientific writing. The event is free and open to the public.

Students in the program carry out research projects related to UW-Green Bay’s Cofrin Memorial Arboretum and other University-managed natural areas in Northeastern Wisconsin. Funding is provided by a student research grant endowment established by the families of the late Dr. David A. Cofrin and the late John Cofrin. The Land Trust Grant was established by Michael Draney and Vicki Medland of the UW-Green Bay faculty/staff to support student research at other natural areas in Northeast Wisconsin. Between the two programs, grants of up to $1,000 are awarded competitively based on student proposals and are open to all students at UW-Green Bay. Projects, carried out in collaboration with faculty members, must contribute to improving understanding of the ecology, history, and appreciation of the selected natural area(s), and help land managers in conservation and restoration efforts. The projects also give students experience in properly designing and carrying out research.

Students interested in applying for grants for the upcoming year should call Vicki Medland at 920-465-2342 or visit www.uwgb.edu/biodiversity/ for application guidelines. Applications are due April 13, 2015.

Among the six students presenting their results at the Cofrin Student Symposium on March 3, two will highlight the importance of invertebrates in forest ecology. Amber Konrad, Sturgeon Bay, used her grant to survey and create a GIS map of the distribution of ant mounds in the Cofrin Arboretum to better understand how the location of these important “soil engineers” may affect the distributions of other species and the ecology of the landscape. Linda Vang, Green Bay, will discuss the results of a project she began in 2013 examining the relationships between invertebrates and wildflower seeds. In 2013 she documented the presence of harvestmen (opiliones, sometimes incorrectly called “daddy longlegs”) on and near the wildflower seeds she was observing. She designed her second study to determine if harvestmen are predators of spring wildflower seeds and to assess the role of these arachnids in seed dispersal.

Lindsay Hansen, Kiel, conducted bird surveys at the University-managed Kingfisher Farm natural area in Manitowoc County. Her goals were to provide a detailed list and description of the migratory birds using the Lake Michigan shoreline and river mouth habitats at Kingfisher Farm and nearby conservation areas in order to provide land managers with information about the use of shoreline habitats by migratory bird species.

As part of a restoration effort in the wetlands at Point au Sable Nature Preserve, Cassondra Kollatz, Burlington, collected, counted and identified zooplankton she collected in a bayshore lagoon and in the bay of Green Bay. The goal was to provide baseline data for an ongoing restoration effort by informing ecologists about how changing water levels and future controlled burning of invasive plants may affect the zooplankton communities that form the basis of the food chain in the ecosystem.

Students at UW-Green Bay have been conducting snake surveys on the Cofrin Arboretum for several years, providing a unique opportunity to continue examining snake populations, distribution and movement. Students Jacqueline Corrigan and Tessa Moeller, Seymour, compared data from previous surveys to the data they collected last summer and fall to examine the effectiveness of sampling methods and to determine what impact the harsh winter of 2013-2014 might have had on the survivorship and distribution of snakes in the Arboretum.

As part of the symposium program, this year’s Sager Scholarship for Undergraduate Scientific Writing will be presented to Christa Kananen, Sobieski, for her paper titled “Drawdown of the Potentiometric Surface of the Cambrian-Ordovician Aquifer in Marinette County, Wisconsin.” Prof. Robert Howe, director of the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity at UW-Green Bay will introduce and moderate the March 3 program.

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Symposium marks 25 years of Cofrin-supported student research

Ten UW-Green Bay students will report on research conducted in UW-Green Bay natural areas at the 25th annual Cofrin Student Symposium, scheduled from 1-5 p.m. Tuesday (March 4) in the Christie Theatre. The symposium marks a quarter-century of student research and more than 140 students whose research has been funded by an endowment established by the Cofrin family. The program also will include recognition of the recipient of the Paul and Thea Sager Scholarship for excellence in scientific writing. See more details.

Giving Back: Celebrating 25 years of student environmental research

top-story-researchTen University of Wisconsin-Green Bay students will report on research conducted in UW-Green Bay natural areas at the 25th annual Cofrin Student Symposium, scheduled from 1-5 p.m. Tuesday, March 4 in the Christie Theatre of the University Union on campus, 2420 Nicolet Drive.

The symposium marks a quarter-century of student research and more 140 students whose research has been funded by an endowment established by the Cofrin family. The program also will include recognition of the recipient of the Paul and Thea Sager Scholarship for excellence in scientific writing, presented to Holly Plamann, for her paper entitled “Can Added Sugar Intake Increase the Risk of Developing Pancreatic Cancer?” The event is free and open to the public.

Six undergraduate and four graduate students will present their results. Two graduate students will present on their thesis research associated in part with the Cat Island Chain restoration in the bay of Green Bay. Tim Flood is working to restore native aquatic vegetation and improve habitat for fish and waterfowl in the Cat Island restoration area, while Tom Prestby is identifying and mapping shorebird habitat along the lower Green Bay coastal zone, including UW-Green Bay natural areas and Cat Island.

Two student projects were focused on the identification of bat assemblages in northeastern Wisconsin. Graduate student Jessica Kempke will discuss her research to identify bat migration patterns along the Lake Michigan coast. In a continuation of research started in 2012, Brianna Kupsky will report on bat species living in UW-Green Bay natural areas.

Several studies by UW-Green Bay undergraduates focused on understanding the ecology of the Cofrin Memorial Arboretum or nearby Point au Sable Nature Preserve. Two students used a combination of observation and cameras to learn about the behavior of mammals and the use of burrows on the Cofrin Arboretum. Christa Meyer will report on the behavior of breeding red foxes and Amanda Johnson will discuss the ecological importance of woodchuck burrows on campus. Education major Amanda Nothem developed a curriculum that will allow K-12 educators to bring groups of students to the Cofrin Arboretum to study water and atmospheric science. After the symposium the equipment and curriculum will be available for checkout through the Education department.

During the symposium, student Linda Vang will report on the dispersal of wildflower seeds by ants in Mahon Woods. Sravani Karnam will describe a mathematical model she designed, based on water chemistry and zooplankton data that will predict trophic level changes in the Arboretum ponds. Haley Sharpe will report on her study of the types of fungi that are collected by woodpeckers as they forage for insect larvae in the Point au Sable forest.

Prof. Robert Howe, director of the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity at UW-Green Bay, will introduce and moderate the session.

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Photos provided by the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity

UW-Green Bay celebrates 25 years of student research with annual Cofrin Symposium

Ten University of Wisconsin-Green Bay students will report on research conducted in UW-Green Bay natural areas at the 25th annual Cofrin Student Symposium, scheduled from 1-5 p.m. Tuesday, March 4 in the Christie Theatre of the University Union on campus, 2420 Nicolet Drive.

The symposium marks a quarter-century of student research and more 140 students whose research has been funded by an endowment established by the Cofrin family. The program also will include recognition of the recipient of the Paul and Thea Sager Scholarship for excellence in scientific writing. The event is free and open to the public.

Students in the program carry out research projects related to the UW-Green Bay’s Cofrin Memorial Arboretum and other University-managed natural areas in Northeastern Wisconsin. Funding is provided by a student research grant program established by an endowment from the families of Dr. David Cofrin and the late John Cofrin. The Land Trust Grant was established by UW-Green Bay faculty members Michael Draney and Vicki Medland to support student research at other natural areas in Northeastern Wisconsin. Grants of up to $1,000 are awarded competitively based on student proposals and are open to all students at UW-Green Bay. Students’ projects, carried out in collaboration with faculty members, must contribute to improving understanding of the ecology, history, and appreciation of the selected natural area(s). The projects also give students experience in properly designing and carrying out research. Since 1987, more than 100 students have participated in this grant-supported research program.

Students interested in applying for grants for the upcoming year should call Medland at 920-465-2342 or visit www.uwgb.edu/biodiversity/ for application guidelines. Applications are due April 14. The Biodiversity website also contains information on the day’s schedule, along with additional information about the students and their projects.

Six undergraduate and four graduate students will present their results at the 25th annual Cofrin Student Symposium. Two graduate students will present on their thesis research associated in part with the Cat Island Chain restoration in the bay of Green Bay. Tim Flood is working to restore native aquatic vegetation and improve habitat for fish and waterfowl in the Cat Island restoration area, while Tom Prestby is identifying and mapping shorebird habitat along the lower Green Bay coastal zone, including UW-Green Bay natural areas and Cat Island.

Two student projects were focused on the identification of bat assemblages in northeastern Wisconsin. Graduate student Jessica Kempke will discuss her research to identify bat migration patterns along the Lake Michigan coast. In a continuation of research started in 2012, Brianna Kupsky will report on bat species living in UW-Green Bay natural areas.

Several studies by UW-Green Bay undergraduates focused on understanding the ecology of the Cofrin Memorial Arboretum or nearby Point au Sable Nature Preserve. Two students used a combination of observation and cameras to learn about the behavior of mammals and the use of burrows on the Cofrin Arboretum. Christa Meyer will report on the behavior of breeding red foxes and Amanda Johnson will discuss the ecological importance of woodchuck burrows on campus. Education major Amanda Nothem developed a curriculum that will allow K-12 educators to bring groups of students to the Cofrin Arboretum to study water and atmospheric science. After the symposium the equipment and curriculum will be available for checkout through the Education department.

During the symposium, student Linda Vang will report on the dispersal of wildflower seeds by ants in Mahon Woods. Sravani Karnam will describe a mathematical model she designed, based on water chemistry and zooplankton data that will predict trophic level changes in the Arboretum ponds. Haley Sharpe will report on her study of the types of fungi that are collected by woodpeckers as they forage for insect larvae in the Point au Sable forest.

As part of the symposium, Holly Plamann will be presented with this year’s Sager Scholarship for Undergraduate Scientific Writing for her paper titled “Can Added Sugar Intake Increase the Risk of Developing Pancreatic Cancer?” Prof. Robert Howe, director of the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity at UW-Green Bay, will introduce and moderate the session.

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Save the date: Cofrin Student Symposium set for March 4

Our friends in Natural and Applied Sciences are asking you to please save the date for the Cofrin Student Symposium, 1-5 p.m. Tuesday, March 4 in the Union’s Christie Theatre. Attendees will hear from the 11 2013 Cofrin and Land Trust Grant recipients as they present the results of their research projects. Each presentation is about 15 minutes in length and faculty, students and others are welcome to join organizers for all or part of the event. If faculty members wish to offer attendance as an extra credit opportunity for students, the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity team will be happy to provide sign-in sheets for the class. Attending the symposium is a great way for students to find out more information about the expectations of the program and to get a better idea of what the Cofrin Grant research experience is like. Vicki Medland, Associate Director of the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity, will have an itinerary and abstracts for the presentations available in early March.

Seeking mentors for Cofrin, Land Trust Grant programs
And speaking of grant opportunities, Medland and co. are asking for faculty members to consider mentoring a student in the campus-wide Cofrin and Land Trust Grant program. Grants are available to support independent student research projects conducted within the Cofrin Arboretum and the UW-Green Bay Natural Areas, including Toft Point and Peninsula Center in Door County, Point au Sable in Brown County and Kingfisher Farm in Manitowoc County. An additional grant is available for research at other natural areas in the western Great Lakes Area. Undergraduate and graduate students in any major are eligible to apply, though preference will be given to undergrads. You can view the list of completed projects here: www.uwgb.edu/biodiversity/education/completed-projects.asp. The deadline to apply for the grants is April 14. Please see the Biodiversity Center website for more information about the program and the application process.

Going green: Students receive Land Trust, Cofrin Research grants

Congratulations are in order for 11 UW-Green Bay students who have received Land Trust or Cofrin Research grants for the 2013-14 academic year. These grants provide unique opportunities for students to pursue faculty-guided research that contributes to the conservation and management of natural areas in Northeastern Wisconsin. Topics for students’ projects include the Cat Island chain, the importance of woodchucks, aquatic ecosystems, bat migration, moss abundance and biodiversity and more. You can get more info and check out a complete list of the students, their projects and faculty advisers, here.