Marissa Ahlering is a prairie ecologist for The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota, North and South Dakota. Dr. Ahlering is monitoring the Conservancy’s prairie sites, gathering the data needed to guide their management. She knows these prairies well, having done research on the habitat needs of two grassland-nesting birds in the region. She’s also studied elephants – in East Africa – using methods that are valuable for studying prairie wildlife, too.
Kristen Blann is a freshwater ecologist for The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota, North and South Dakota. It’s a region of numerous lakes, streams, rivers and wetlands, and Dr. Blann is actively involved in the Conservancy’s aquatic conservation planning. That work can include “fishing” for endangered freshwater mussels (no mussels were harmed), or developing an ecological framework for managing water resources across regions as large as Minnesota’s entire Great Lakes Basin.
Meredith Cornett is Director of Conservation Science for The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota, North and South Dakota. Those are states with a wide variety of habitats that interest her research staff: arid badlands, tallgrass prairies, the North Woods of Minnesota’s canoe country and Mississippi River blufflands (to name only a few). Dr. Cornett is keenly interested in forests, and her field work is helping develop strategies for managing northern forests for the future’s changing and uncertain climate.
Phil Gerla is an aquatic ecologist and hydrologist helping The Nature Conservancy with prairie and wetland conservation in Minnesota, North and South Dakota. That work includes the Glacial Ridge Project, the largest prairie and wetland restoration project in America. Dr Gerla is guiding the transformation of a drainage ditch into a prairie stream at Glacial Ridge, and his research is revealing what happens to water quality and quantity when former croplands are restored to native grasslands.
Mark White is a forest ecologist for The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota and the Dakotas. White is seeking ways to conserve the biodiversity of the forests that extend from central Minnesota north to Canada. It’s a task that must take into account the forest’s own variability, human uses and other factors such as invasive species. Even deer can have a profound effect, and White is developing strategies to keep deer from altering the make-up of tomorrow’s forests.