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Biology News 2006-2007 Academic Year

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Summer 2007

Steve Wagner, (Biology), Megan Matheson (Psychology), and Lori Sheeran (Anthropology) offered the Biodiversity and Primate Behavior Field Research Program for the third year. This collaboration between Central Washington University and Anhui University was held from late July through late August, 2007, at the Valley of the Wild Monkeys, Huangshan Scenic Spot, China. Seven students participated in this program, accompanying them to the China. Directly following this program, Steve Wagner was invited to assess the biodiversity and disease status of amphibians occurring in Tanjung Putting Preserve near Pankglabun, Borneo.

Jason Irwin co-authored a paper with Julie Lee-Yaw and David Green titled, "Post-glacial range expansion from northern refugia by the wood frog, Rana sylvatica", which has been accepted to Molecular Ecology.


Winter 2007

Tom Cottrell returned from his international exchange in China.

An informational meeting about the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project and potential associated research opportunities was held Friday, January 19, 1:00-3:00pm in Science 147. Project members from WSDOT made a presentation and hoped to get an idea of CWU's interest and potential involvement. The meeting was very well attended.

Steve Wagner attended the Mathematics Meetings in New Orleans in early January and gave a presentation with Tim Englund from the Math Department.

Paul James and Kris Ernest received funding from the COTS equipment grant program for teaching and research equipment for field biology studies.

Dan Selski, Jason Irwin, and Dave Darda received funding from the COTS equipment grant program for anatomical models, skeletal material, and a cadaver for teaching Human Anatomy and Physiology.

Biology student, Amy Redburn was accepted into Case Western Dental School.

Darwin Day-Darwin Week presentations and activities were all well attended. Thanks to Jason Irwin, Steve Wagner, Jim Johnson, Kari Taylor, Dave Darda, and Alex Glass for planning and coordinating this very successful event - our 6th annual.

Jim Johnson and Steve Wagner have received funding via a contract with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for work with amphibian fungal infections.

CWU had a strong showing with the second most talks given at the Society for Northwest Vertebrate Biology meetings in Victoria, B.C. in late February.Biology major Susan Belmont received the "Best Presentation Award" for her talk on chytrid fungus infection in local frog populations. The title of her talk: Teasing Apart Death and Pestilence: Demography and Infection of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in a Natural Population of Pacific Treefrogs. Susan worked with Steve Wagner and Jim Johnson.

Christopher Gaulke, undergraduate with Jason Irwin, Jim Johnson and Steve Wagner, presented a talk entitled, "Pathophysiology of Chytridiomycosis in Amphibians".

Michelle Lester, undergraduate with advisors Lori Sheeran (Anthro), Megan Matheson (Psychology), and Steve Wagner, presented a talk entitled, "Demography of Pachytriton brevepis in Huangshan China".

Steve Wagner and Jim Johnson presented a talk entitled, "Synergistic interactions among an herbicide and pathogen: a potential evolutionary arms race".

Tara Chestnut (Washington Dept. of Transportation), Jim Johnson, and Steve Wagner presented a talk entitled, "Detecting a deadly amphibian disease: are park visitors inadvertent vectors?"

Dan Beck and his graduate student, Patrick Emblidge, attended the Desert Tortoise Council meetings in Las Vegas, Nevada Feb. 23 and 24. Dan was invited by the Council to talk about Gila monster biology and sign copies of his Gila monster book. His invited talk was entitled, "History, Humans, and Heloderma: Why Monsters Matter", followed by a reception/book signing. He also organized a session (7 talks, 2 posters) on Gila Monster biology and gave another talk entitled, "Introduction and Overview of Bumpy Lizard Biology". Following the meetings, Dan and Patrick conducted field trips to Gila Monster habitat in Nevada and Utah, where Patrick will conduct his thesis research.

Linda Raubeson and Rhiannon Peery taught a two-day basic botany workshop to the Kittitas County Master Gardeners. About 30 master gardeners attended Feb 22nd and 27th. The workshops were hosted in the Biology Department at CWU where attendees were able to benefit from Department's prepared slide collection, microscopes, and greenhouse (which they enjoy very much). The Department has hosted such workshops for many years.

Linda Raubeson has learned that the two requests that she made to NSF for REU Supplements have been funded. These provide supplemental funds to existing grants to support undergraduate researchers over the summer. She has been recommended to receive a $7,000 supplement to the Chloroplast Genomics grant to support student Skip McCoy this coming summer and a $6,000 supplement to the Gymnosperm Tree of Life grant to support student Ashley Dutton.

Response from faculty interested in potential involvement with the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project was very strong - 16 people associated with 7 departments proposed 29 ideas for potential projects!

Fall 2006

Mary Poulson has had another paper accepted for publication. "Response of Photosynthesis to High Light and Drought for Arabidopsis thaliana Grown Under a UV-B Enhanced Light Regime" (Poulson, Boeger and Donahue). It will be published in the peer-reviewed journal, Photosynthesis Research and is the result of research carried out during her research leave in Spring 2006.

Steve Wagner has another paper in press, this one in the Journal of Heredity, a top-tier genetics journal. The paper describes the genetic diversity of Southern Torrent Salamander, a Pacific Northwest endemic mature forest-associated species, and defines conservation units. "Spatial genetic structure and regional demography in the southern torrent salamander" by M.P. Miller, S.M. Haig, and R.S. Wagner.

Co-PIs Gazis, Wagner, Quitadomo, Kurtz, and Pratt-Situala have been awarded a 3.2 million G - K12 NSF grant - the Yakima WATERS project. This interdisciplinary project will fund 6 graduate students per year in COTS and is designed to bring a more mature science curriculum into local middle schools and high schools.

Susan Belmont, an undergraduate in biology under the mentorship of Steve Wagner and Jim Johnson, presented a talk at an international meeting sponsored by the Canadian Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Network. The presentation, "Chytridiomycosis in Pacific Northwest Amphibians: Death and Pestilence in Your Backyard", highlighted research on the growing threat to Northwest amphibian biodiversity.

On Nov. 3, four faculty members from the Biology Department at Yakima Valley Community College met with our Curriculum Committee to discuss and compare our introductory majors sequences. Following the meeting, a social hour allowed for more informal discussion among Biology faculty, staff, and graduate students and our YVCC colleagues.

On November 3-4, Dave Darda attended the Northwest Regional Human Anatomy and Physiology (HAPS) Conference. Session topics included high altitude physiology, offering online anatomy and physiology, and interactive cadaver imaging technology.

Kris Ernest is co-author of a recently published paper concerning conifer forest canopy ecology: Shaw, D.C., K. A. Ernest, H. B. Rinker, and M.D. Lowman. 2006. Stand-level herbivory in an old-growth conifer forest canopy. Western North American Naturalist 66(4):473-481.

Lixing Sun is co-author of a recently published paper concerning Giant Panda behavior: Juan Liu, Yue Chen, Liran Guo, Bo Gu, Hui Liu, Anyan Hou, Xuefeng Liu, Lixing Sun, and Dingzhen Liu. Stereotypic behavior and fecal cortisol level in captive Giant Pandas in relation to environmental enrichment. 2006. Zoo Biology 25:445-459.

Holly Pinkart and her research group have submitted three abstracts (one undergraduate and one graduate student as co-authors) for the American Society for Microbiology general meeting this coming spring.

Biology major Erika Nelson has been accepted to veterinary school in Scotland.

Darlene Boykiw reports that eleven students are applying to medical school this year. Levente Fabry, Chemistry, is the pre-med advisor.

Robbie Soltz helped to secure a sizable donation of materials and equipment (worth $10-15,000) to the Biology and Chemistry Departments. The connection came through a student in one of Robbie's classes.

Jason Irwin and Dave Darda have just returned from Phoenix where the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology was held Jan. 3-7. Jason gave two presentations summarizing work done here at CWU as well as work done before joining our faculty. Both projects involved CWU students - undergraduate and graduate. Oral presentation: "A climate-based model of winter energy consumption to examine the southern range limit of the goldenrod gall fly (Eurosta solidaginis) on late goldenrod (Solidago gigantea) Poster presentation: Phylogeography of wood frogs (Rana sylvatica): mtDNA cytochrome b sequences indicate a deep East-West division Dave had a good number of discussions with colleagues whose work is related to his upcoming sabbatical project.

Our faculty search yielded 60 applicants. The search committee has narrowed the field to nine finalists. Letters have been requested, and we anticipate extending invitations very soon.