Ecological Systems Laboratory

The Ecological Systems Laboratory promotes formal exposure to systems analysis and simulation as an integral part of the training of professionals and academicians involved in ecological research or natural resource management. Systems analysis refers both to a general problem-solving philosophy and to a collection of quantitative techniques, including simulation, developed specifically to address problems related to the functioning of complex systems. Workshops on the use of systems analysis and simulation in ecology and natural resource management which are cosponsored by WFSC, the International Society for Ecological Modeling, and a host institution and are offered in either English or Spanish.

DrGrant

Principle Investigator

William Grant

Professor

wegrant@tamu.edu

979-845-5702

Google Scholar: tx.ag/wegrant

 

 

RoseAssistant Research Scientist / Undergraduate Research Program Adviser

Hsiao-Hsuan (Rose) Wang

Assistant Research Scientist

hsuan006@tamu.edu

979-845-5702

Google Scholar: tx.ag/drrose

ResearchGate: http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Hsiao_Hsuan_Wang

 

Undergraduate Research Program

GOAL

Ecological data analysis, systems analysis, and simulation in ecological research or natural resource management.

Group photo of Undergraduate Research Program in Ecological Systems Laboratory, WFSCCURRENT MEMBERS

ANSC
Chris Chen

BESC
Kacy Beck
Samantha Murray

ECOR / FORS
Lela Culpepper5

WFSC
Rebecca Aden1
Aminta Arevilca1,2,3
Kelsea Anthony2
Paola Camposeco
Anna Cole1,2
Jasmin Diaz-Lopez
Kaitlyn Forks1,2
Hannah Gerke2,4
Marissa Ortega2
Brittany Stamps2
Sara Stephens
Thanchira Suriyamongkola1,2

12015 – 2016 Undergraduate Research Scholars

22015 – 2016 ABS Conservation Scholars

32015 – 2016 Texas Sea Grant Undergraduate Scholar Award

42015 – 2016 Honor Independent Study

52016 Summer REU in UMBS

PRESENTATIONS AT SCIENTIFIC MEETINGS (*UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS)

Apr. 2016: 17th Ecological Integration Symposium. College Station, TX

  1. Aden, R. E.*, L. Culpepper*, H.-H. Wang, I. Mali, W. E. Grant, and M. Forstner. Simulated effects of sex-ratio disparity on population dynamics of the endangered Houston toad (poster).
  2. Arevilca, A.*, S. Murray*, M. Ortega*, S. Stephens*, H.-H. Wang, and W. E. Grant. Effects of gillnet entanglement on mortality of dusky dolphins (poster).
  3. Camposeco, P.*, J. Diaz-Lopez*, T. Suriyamongkol*, H.-H. Wang, and W. E. Grant. Simulated effects of oil spills and climate catastrophes on demography and population trends of Florida manatee (poster).
  4. Cole, A.*, K. Anthony*, C. Chen*, H.-H. Wang, T. E. Koralewski, and W. E. Grant. Effects of genetic depletion on estimating risk of extinction of the endangered Florida panther (poster).
  5. Forks, K. N.*, T. Suriyamongkol*, E. McGrew*, I. Mali, H.-H. Wang, W. Grant, A. Villamizar-Gomez, and M. Forstner. Use of PVC pipes of different diameters as artificial refuges by green tree frogs in Texas (poster).
  6. Gerke, H. C.*, K. Beck*, B. Stamps*, H.-H. Wang, and W. E. Grant. Effect of oil spills on populations of the loggerhead sea turtle (poster).
  7. Suriyamongkol, T.*, K. Forks*, E. McGrew*, I. Mali, H.-H. Wang, W. E. Grant, A. Villamizar-Gomez, and M. Forstner. Effects of burning on relative abundances and morphological characteristics of green tree frog in Texas (poster).

Apr. 2016: Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences 31st Annual Conference. Jacksonville, FL

  1. Camposeco, P.*, J. Diaz-Lopez*, T. Suriyamongkol*, H.-H. Wang, and W. E. Grant. Simulated effects of oil spills and climate catastrophes on demography and population trends of Florida manatee (poster).

Mar. 2016: Texas A&M Student Research Week 2015. College Station, TX

  1. Aden, R. E.*, L. Culpepper*, H.-H. Wang, I. Mali, W. E. Grant, and M. Forstner. Simulated effects of sex-ratio disparity on population dynamics of the endangered Houston toad (oral presentation).
  2. Arevilca, A.*, S. Murray*, M. Ortega*, S. Stephens*, H.-H. Wang, and W. E. Grant. Effects of gillnet entanglement on mortality of dusky dolphins (oral presentation).
  3. Camposeco, P.*, J. Diaz-Lopez*, T. Suriyamongkol*, H.-H. Wang, and W. E. Grant. Simulated effects of oil spills and climate catastrophes on demography and population trends of Florida manatee (poster).
  4. Cole, A.*, K. Anthony*, C. Chen*, H.-H. Wang, T. E. Koralewski, and W. E. Grant. Effects of genetic depletion on estimating risk of extinction of the endangered Florida panther (oral presentation).
  5. Forks, K. N.*, T. Suriyamongkol*, E. McGrew*, I. Mali, H.-H. Wang, W. Grant, A. Villamizar-Gomez, and M. Forstner. Use of PVC pipes of different diameters as artificial refuges by green tree frogs in Texas (poster).
  6. Gerke, H. C.*, K. Beck*, B. Stamps*, H.-H. Wang, and W. E. Grant. Effect of oil spills on populations of the loggerhead sea turtle (oral presentation).
  7. Suriyamongkol, T.*, K. Forks*, E. McGrew*, I. Mali, H.-H. Wang, W. E. Grant, A. Villamizar-Gomez, and M. Forstner. Effects of burning on relative abundances and morphological characteristics of green tree frog in Texas (poster).

 Feb. 2016: 52nd Annual Meeting of the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society. San Antonio, TX

  1. Aden, R. E.*, L. Culpepper*, E. McGrew*, H.-H. Wang, I. Mali, W. E. Grant, and M. Forstner. Simulated effects of sex-ratio disparity on population dynamics of the endangered Houston toad (poster).
  2. Arevilca, A.*, S. Murray*, M. Ortega*, S. Stephens*, H.-H. Wang, and W. E. Grant. Effects of gillnet entanglement on mortality of dusky dolphins (poster).
  3. Cole, A.*, K. Anthony*, C. Chen*, H.-H. Wang, T. E. Koralewski, and W. E. Grant. Effects of genetic depletion on estimating risk of extinction of the endangered Florida panther (oral presentation).
  4. Forks, K. N.*, T. Suriyamongkol*, E. McGrew*, I. Mali, H.-H. Wang, W. Grant, A. Villamizar-Gomez, and M. Forstner. Use of PVC pipes of different diameters as artificial refuges by green tree frogs in Texas (oral presentation).
  5. Gerke, H. C.*, K. Beck*, B. Stamps*, H.-H. Wang, and W. E. Grant. Effect of oil spills on populations of the loggerhead sea turtle (poster).
  6. Suriyamongkol, T.*, K. Forks*, E. McGrew*, I. Mali, H.-H. Wang, W. E. Grant, A. Villamizar-Gomez, and M. Forstner. Effects of burning on relative abundances and morphological characteristics of green tree frog in Texas (poster).

Jan. 2016: 6th Annual Graduate Program in Marine Biology Science Symposium. Corpus Christi, TX

  1. Arevilca, A.*, S. Stephens*, M. Ortega*, S. Murray*, H.-H. Wang, and W.E. Grant. Effects of gillnet entanglement on mortality of dusky dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) (poster).
  2. Suriyamongkol, T.*, M. P. Camposeco*, J. Diaz-Lopez*, -H. Wang, and W.E. Grant. Demography and population trends of Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) (poster).

Nov. 2015: Texas Herpetological Society 2015 Fall Symposium. San Marcos, TX

  1. Suriyamongkol, T.*, K. Forks*, E. McGrew*, A. Villamizar-Gomez, I. Mali, -H. Wang, W.E. Grant, and M. Forstner. Post-wildfire comparison of Hyla cinerea in burned and unburned areas near Bastrop, Texas (poster).

Sep. 2015: 2015 Sigma Xi/LAUNCH Undergraduate Research Expo. College Station, TX

  1. Arevilca, A.*, L. Elissetche*, M. Scanlin*, S. Stephens*, H.-H. Wang, and E. Grant. Invasion of eastern Texas forestlands by the most prevalent invasive shrub, Chinese and European privets (Ligustrum sinense Lour and L. vulgare l.) (poster).
  2. Beck, K.*, L. Culpepper*, E. McGrew*, T. Suriyamongkol*, -H. Wang, and W. E. Grant. Recent range expansions by the most prevalent invasive tree, Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera (L.) Small), in the forestlands of eastern Texas (poster).
  3. McGrew, E.*, S. Stephens*, H.-H. Wang, and W. E. Grant. Recent expansion of an invasive vine, Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), in eastern Texas forestlands from 2006 to 2011 (poster).

 Aug. 2015: Summer 2015 Undergraduate Research Poster Session. College Station, TX

  1. McGrew, E.*, S. Stephens*, H.-H. Wang, and W. E. Grant. Recent expansion of an invasive vine, Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), in eastern Texas forestlands from 2006 to 2011 (poster).
  2. Suriyamongkol, T.*, K. Forks*, A. Arevilca*, E. McGrew*, A. Villamizar-Gomez, I. Mali, H.-H. Wang, W. Grant, and M. Forstner. Post-wildfire comparison of the herpetofauna in burned and unburned areas near Bastrop, Texas (poster).

Apr. 2015: The Sixth Big Thicket and West Gulf Coastal Plain Science Conference. Nacogdoches, TX

  1. Arevilca, A.*, L. Elissetche*, M. Scanlin*, S. Stephens*, H.-H. Wang, and E. Grant. Invasion of eastern Texas forestlands by the most prevalent invasive shrub, Chinese and European privets (Ligustrum sinense Lour and L. vulgare l.) (oral presentation).
  2. Beck, K.*, L. Culpepper*, E. McGrew*, T. Suriyamongkol*, -H. Wang, and W. E. Grant. Recent range expansions by the most prevalent invasive tree, Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera (L.) Small), in the forestlands of eastern Texas (oral presentation).

Mar. 2015: Texas A&M Student Research Week 2015. College Station, TX

  1. Arevilca, A.*, L. Elissetche*, M. Scanlin*, S. Stephens*, H.-H. Wang, and E. Grant. Invasion of eastern Texas forestlands by the most prevalent invasive shrub, Chinese and European privets (Ligustrum sinense Lour and L. vulgare l.) (poster).
  2. Beck, K.*, L. Culpepper*, E. McGrew*, T. Suriyamongkol*, -H. Wang, and W. E. Grant. Recent range expansions by the most prevalent invasive tree, Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera (L.) Small), in the forestlands of eastern Texas (poster).

PEER-REVIEWED PUBLICATIONS (*UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS)

  1. Wang, H.-H., J. L. Buchhorn* and W. E. Grant. 2014. Effects of management on range expansion by Chinese tallow in the forestlands of eastern Texas. Journal of Forestry 112(4): 346-353.
  2. Wang, H.-H., E. Koralewski, E. K. McGrew*, W. E. Grant, T. D. Byram. 2015. Species distribution model for management of an invasive vine in forestlands of eastern Texas. Forests 6: 4374-4390. DOI: 10.3390/f6124374.
  3. Arevilca, A.*, L. Elissetche*, M. Scanlin*, S. Stephens*, H.-H. Wang, and W. E. Grant. (accepted) Rapidly increasing of eastern Texas forestlands by the most prevalent invasive shrubs: Chinese and European privets. Southeastern Naturalist.
  4. Suriyamongkol, T*, E. McGrew*, L. Culpepper*, K. Beck*, H.-H. Wang, and W. E. Grant. (accepted) Recent range expansions by the most prevalent invasive tree, Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera (L.) Small), in the forestlands of eastern Texas. Southeastern Naturalist.

 

CURRENT PROJECTS

Simulated effects of oil spills and climate catastrophes on demography and population trends of Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus ssp. latirostris)

One of the most endangered marine mammals in the coastal areas of the United States is Florida manatee. Their populations have been dramatically declined due to various factors including perinatal mortality, habitat destruction and degradation, and human-related threats. The objective of this study is to estimate the demography and population trends of Florida manatee. Methods: We conducted a literature review to obtain basic demographic data available and developed a stage-structured population dynamics model for Florida manatee using STELLA®7.0.1. Results: Based on the model, population of Florida manatee decreases due to the effects of oil spills, cold catastrophes, or hurricane catastrophes.

Simulated effects of sex-ratio disparity on population dynamics of the endangered Houston toad (Bufo houstonensis).

The sex-ratio of reproductively mature individuals within a population is an important determinant of population dynamics, particularly for species such as the Houston toad (Bufo houstonensis), an endangered species in east central Texas, in which the age at sexual maturity differs between males and females. We aim to conduct a literature review to obtain the best basic demographic data available and develop a stage-structured population dynamics model for the Houston toad. We then will use the model to estimate potential population growth rates under a variety of assumptions about the disparity in age at sexual maturity between males and females and the resulting sex-ratio of reproductively mature individuals within the population.

Effects of gillnet entanglement on mortality of dusky dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus).

The dusky dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) is a marine mammal that inhabits coastal waters of the Southern Hemisphere which commonly is caught in gillnets. Hence, we aim to conduct a literature review to obtain the best information available related to gillnet entanglement of dusky dolphins, as well as the basic demographic data necessary to develop a stochastic population dynamics model. We then will use the model to estimate the potential effect of gillnet-related mortality on the population dynamics of dusky dolphins in view of the parametric uncertainty associated with the model.

Effects of genetic depletion on estimating risk of extinction of the endangered Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi).

The loss of genetic diversity is well established as a contributing threat to small and isolated populations. However, the demographic mechanisms underlying population-level responses to genetic depletion remain poorly understood. The Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) is an endangered subspecies and a textbook example of a small and isolated population. Determining the risk of extinction is one of the major goals of Florida panther conservation. We will conduct a literature review to obtain the best basic demographic data available and will develop a stage-structured population dynamics model for the Florida panther. We then will use the model to estimate the potential risk of extinction under a variety of assumptions concerning genetic depletion.

Use of PVC pipes of different diameters as artificial refuges by green tree frogs (Hyla cinerea) in Texas.

The objective of this study is to evaluate PVC pipes as artificial refuges for green tree frogs (Hyla cinerea) in Texas. This method has been widely used in the southeast US, but only rarely in Texas. We will analyze unpublished field data on green tree frogs provided by colleagues at Texas State University. In addition, this study aims to assess possible differences in use of PVC pipes of different diameters (1.5-inch versus 2.0-inch diameters). Based on the data from Texas State University, our preliminary results suggest that green tree frogs may use PVC pipes as refuges. Moreover, we hypothesize that larger-diameter pipes will be more favored than smaller-diameter pipes by the use of green tree frogs.

Effects of uncertainty about juvenile survival rates on estimating risk of extinction of the endangered Houston toad (Bufo houstonensis).

Amphibian populations have been declining worldwide for the last three decades. Determining the risk of extinction is one of the major goals of amphibian conservation. The endangered Houston toad is endemic to east central Texas, and was first listed as an endangered species in 1970. Field data with which to estimate juvenile survival is virtually impossible to obtain. We will conduct a thorough literature review to obtain the best basic demographic data available and will develop a stochastic, stage-structured, population dynamics model for the Houston toad. We then will use the model to estimate the potential risk of extinction under a variety of assumptions concerning juvenile survival rates.

Effects of burning on relative abundances and morphological characteristics of green tree frog (Hyla cinerea) in Texas.

Large wildfires, such as the one that occurred in 2011 near Bastrop, Texas, are natural phenomena that can impact native fauna by altering their habitats. Much of the famous Lost Pines region was destroyed in the wildfires and will take years to recover. The objective of this study is to compare the relative abundances and morphological characteristics of green tree frogs (Hyla cinerea) in burned areas with those in unburned areas near Bastrop to assess the effect of these fires on green tree frog populations in the area. We will analyze unpublished field data on green tree frogs provided by colleagues at Texas State University. We will test the null hypothesis of no difference in abundances of green tree frogs in burned versus unburned habitats; we expect more green tree frogs in unburned areas.

ALUMNI

  • Erin McGrew (WFSC, Jan. 2015 – Dec. 2015)
  • Luis Elissetche (BSBE, Jan. 2015 – May 2015)
  • Michael Scanlin (CVEN, Jan. 2015 – May 2015)
  • Jesseca Buchhorn (WFSC, Jan. 2013 – Dec. 2013)

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences Undergraduate Research Fund, ABS Conservation Scholars Fund, Texas Sea Grant Undergraduate Research Fund, Texas A&M LAUNCH: Undergraduate Research, Dr. William Grant (WFSC), Dr. Michael Forstner (Department of Biology, Texas State University), and Dr. Ivana Mali (Department of Biology, Eastern New Mexico University).