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UWM in the News


Formidable invasive species won't be easy to keep out of Great Lakes. UWM professor & zooplankton specialist Rudi Strickler (WATER Institute) featured.
07/26/14  JSOnline

Stop flushing pills down the toilet. UWM study revealed 14 contaminants linked to pharmaceuticals in Lake Michigan.
07/21/14  The Cap Times

Why women are far more likely to vote than men. Kathleen Dolan (Political Science) interviewed.
07/17/14  The Washington Post

School of Freshwater Sciences will do study on water system for Hunger Task Force fish hatchery.
07/23/14  JSOnline

John Berges (Biol. Sciences, Freshwater Sciences) was neck deep in Eurasian water-milfoil as he searched for a temperature and light sensor in the Estabrook Park Pond.
07/20/14  JSOnline (Image #6)

Adel Nasir (Electrical Engineering) works to build largest microgrid.
07/19/14  JSOnline

Novel way to detect malaria at single cell level enlisting state-of-the-art military hardware uses #synchrotron source developed by Carol Hirschmugl (Physics).
07/18/14  Medical News Today

Bitter battle between motorists and bikers. Robert Schneider (Architecture) interviewed.
07/14/14  Times Herald (Port Huron, Mich.)
07/14/14  USA Today

Nathaniel Stern (Art & Design) Takes Underwater Images—Using A Desktop Scanner.
07/14/14  PopPhoto.com

HBSSW faculty to research effectiveness of Music & Memory, a popular program for people with dementia.
07/17/14  USA Today

CUIR survey showing more support for toll roads in Wisconsin.
07/15/14  WSAU-AM (Wausau, WI)

Rainy spring, cold winter help buoy Great Lakes levels. Paul Roebber (Freshwater Sciences) interviewed.
07/14/14  JSOnline

Agatha Christie expert Christopher Chan (UWM MLIS student) to give seminar at Players.

Attack of the killer vines: lianas taking over forests in Panama. Research led by Stefan Schnitzer (Freshwater Sciences).
07/14/14  mongabay.com Environmental News

Women, Nature, Science—Kyoung Ae Cho: One at a Time (Art and Design).

New UWM study on the mass incarceration of black males "should shock everyone," writes James E. Causey.
07/12/14  JSOnline

Astronomers led by David Kaplan (Physics) detect "diamond star."
07/12  Hanford (Calif.) Sentinel
07/07  Fox6now
07/07  www.milwaukeemag.com
07/06  JSOnline
06/24  Yahoo: UK & Ireland
06/23  globalpost

Ethics experts say ex-cop suspected in suitcase deaths abused authority with side job in sales. Stan Stojkovic (HBSSW) interviewed.
07/12/14  StarTribune

Elana Levine (Journalism & Mass Communication) interviewed for story on the Emmys and streaming and cable TV.
07/10/14  WDJT-TV, CBS-58

Growing Power & Freshwater School Work Together To Fit Aquaculture Into Urban Environments.
07/10/14  WUWM

Reinstate Wisconsin's historic preservation tax credits. Opinion piece by Matthew Jarosz, director, Historic Preservation Institute at UWM..
07/07/14  JSOnline

With "ribbons" of graphene, width matters.
07/07/14  R&D Magazine

Water Council launches new partnership.
07/07/14  BizTimes.com

UWM scientist's vine research could illuminate climate change. Stefan Schnitzer (Freshwater Sciences) featured.
07/06/14  JSOnline

"Encouraging a Thriving Future for Waterloo (Iowa)": Urban Planning graduate students present recommendations to city officials for spurring economic development.
07/01/14  The Courier (Waterloo)

Zilber School of Public Health Dean Magda Peck opposes Supreme Court ruling on employee insurance coverage of contraception.
06/30/14  JSOnline

Water quality at Wisconsin beaches rated 8th worst in nation. City beaches tested frequently through Zilber School of Public Health partnership.
06/25/14  JSOnline

   More UWM media coverage

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Updated 7/14/14


November 2009 UWM Report article

Grad student’s forest research featured in Nature

By Laura L. Hunt

Joe Mascaro, a former National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, is perturbing some long-held ecological beliefs about biodiversity in the plant kingdom.

When biology graduate student Joe Mascaro began his research into the effects of exotic plants on forest dynamics, he had no way to know that the work would end up featured in the prestigious journal Nature—a feat that not even many faculty have achieved.

But then again, the work of Mascaro, who is finishing his Ph.D. at UWM, is perturbing some long-held ecological beliefs about biodiversity in the plant kingdom, namely that heavily “invaded” environments, also called “novel ecosystems,” are of little value.

Hawaii has a lot of such forests—a hodgepodge of nonnative plants in a geographic area that is not managed or no longer managed by humans. Such ecosystems have traditionally been considered something to be avoided in favor of forests of native species. There is very little data on the issue, but Mascaro has stepped in to fill the void.

He is finding that novel forests have unique ecological benefits. In fact, he recently found that in some areas novel forests can store more carbon than native forests. And that’s not all.

Mascaro, who came to UWM specifically to work with Associate Professor Stefan Schnitzer, recently responded to questions about the research and where it will lead.

Q. Did you choose Hawaii for fieldwork because of the novel ecosystems there?

A. Yeah. I was an intern for a project funded by the USGS [U.S. Geological Survey] and looking at avian malaria on the Big Island in 2003. We had a lot of field sites in heavily invaded forests, and I was really intrigued by the idea of a global suite of species suddenly thrown together, where a new set of interactions were developing, and where ecosystem properties and functioning seemed to be more or less maintained.

Q. What have you found? And why are these results important?

A. The novel forests have higher tree-species diversity. In addition, ecosystem productivity and nutrient turnover are higher in the novel forests compared to the native forests. This is very important. The general view is that ecosystems experiencing such a great transition of species will collapse in a way that could negatively impact human welfare. We’ve found that rather than collapsing, the Hawaiian forests become more productive as they are altered by species introductions.

Q. Your point about the unexpected benefits in novel ecosystems is interesting. But what about biodiversity that depends on specific native species?

A. There is no doubt that the reorganization of species that will create novel ecosystems is bad for a lot of species. However, when we look at plants, we find that competition from introduced plants has not been a strong driver of extinction in native plants. This means that regional plant diversity is actually increasing worldwide due to species introductions. The story is different for diseases or parasites, such as ash borer, and predatory interactions, such as the introduction of the brown tree snake to Guam that led to all the native birds going extinct.

Q. Where do we draw the line in either letting go or managing human influences in these ecosystems?

A. I think we have to manage in context. If we are dealing with endangered species or vast tracks of virgin rain forest—we need to protect them at all costs. However, if we are managing an abandoned parking lot in a tropical country, we might be better served by allowing natural processes to run their course. The ecosystem that is assembled as a result will probably surprise us in its diversity and complexity.

Q. What are your future plans?

A. I expect to graduate this spring, and am looking for postdoctoral opportunities. I hope to keep working on novel ecosystems and climate change. Ultimately, I plan to apply for an AAAS [American Association for the Advancement of Science] fellowship that may enable me to have an influence on policy development.  

Page last updated on: 07/11/2014