Current Graduate Students:

Eric Cecil

Starting in August 2015, Eric is using a long-term exclosure experiment to assess the impact of elk on ground-dwelling arthropods.

Vanessa Dodge

Starting in August 2015, Vanessa is evaluating the effects of elk on nutient availability and other soil characteristics.

Cody Ender

Starting in August 2014, Cody is looking at the effects of elk on the success of a dominant plant invader, Holcus lanatus. Prior to attending Sonoma State, Cody worked for the Los Angeles Audubon Society, California Institute of Environmental Studies, and the Golden Gate Parks Conservancy.

Caprice Lee

Starting in August 2015, Caprice is developing a project to evaluate the long-term effects of elk on the population dynamics of a cosmopolitian plant invader. Prior to attending Sonoma State, Caprice worked as a research technician with Sharon Strauss at UC Davis.

Past Graduate Students:

Taylor Ellis (2015)

Taylor's research addressed the hypothesis that elk indirectly affect the abundance of small mammal populations and seed predation rates by altering the vegetation structure of a coastal grassland. Taylor now works for Point Reyes National Seashore as a wildlife biologist, monitoring owl populations at the park.

Clark Richter (2015)

Clark examined the impacts of elk herbivory on a range of plant species that differ greatly in their trait characteristics. He is currently in the Ph.D. program in Ecology at UC Davis, working with Marcel Rejmanek on a project that examines the roles of disturbance and plant invasions in forest succession.

Andrew Kleinlesselink (2011)

Andy's research examined the effects of ecosystem engineering shrubs on plant communities in a coastal dune system. He is now working on a Ph.D. at Utah State University, working with Peter Adler. His research focuses on the range limits and population dynamics of sagebrush in eastern Idaho.


Susan Magnoli (2011)

Susan evaluated the responses of different plant groups to invasion by iceplant in a coastal dune. She is now working on a Ph.D. in plant ecology at Michigan State University with Jennifer Lau.

Laura Saunders (2011)

Laura conducted exclosure experiments that assessed the individual and interactive effects of large and small mammals on oak performance and the woody understory community. Laura is an Environmental Planner with Prunuske Chatham, an environmental consulting company.

Dawn Graydon (2009)

For her thesis at Sonoma State, Dawn used an exclosure experiment to evaluate the effects of cattle grazing on an endangered lycaenid butterfly and its host plant.

Meghan Skaer (2009)

Meghan studied the influence of cattle grazing on native and exotic vegetation in a coastal grassland. She is now completing a Ph.D. in Ecology at UC Davis, working with Kevin Rice. Her research addresses how local patterns of distribution are related to the interaction of an invasive plant with its environment and competitors.

Richard Stabler (2009)

Rich studied the effects of wave-generated disturbances on intertidal plant communities in the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta. He is now a Senior Environmental Specialist with Sonoma County's Permit & Resource Management Department.

Michelle CooperMichelle Cooper (2006)

For her masters research at Sonoma State, Michelle evaluated the role of hikers and mountain bikers in spreading an exotic forest pathogen that causes Sudden Oak Death. She is now the Stewardship Manager with the Marin Agricultural Land Trust.

Joan Schwan (2006)

Joan studied the effects of livestock grazing on plant communities in vernal pools. Since completing her degree, she has been working as a vegetation ecologist with Prunuske Chatham, an environmental consulting firm. Her current projects include restoration planning, natural resource assessment and management planning for parklands, and vegetation mapping.


James T. Coleman (2004)

Jim's thesis at Sonoma State focused on an experimental assessment of different techniques for restoring degraded grasslands in the Central Valley. He serves as the Director of the theĀ WATER Institute and the Visual Documentation Program at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center.

Brent E. Johnson (2004)

Brent used a large-scale exclosure experiment to evaluate the impacts of reintroduced elk on the composition of a coastal grassland community at Point Reyes National Seashore. 2004. He now serves as Research Coordinator and Lead Botanist for Pinnacles National Park.

Denise C. Cadman (2002)

For her masters thesis, Denise evaluated the effects of accumulating dead plant biomass produced by annual grasses on the species richness and composition of vernal pool communities. She works as an environmental scientist for the City of Santa Rosa and a lecturer at Santa Rosa Junior College.

Karen A. Gaffney (2002)

Karen's masters thesis research focused on two topics in invasion biology: 1) assessing the impacts on an exotic grass, Arundo donax, on riparian plant communities and 2) evaluating the effectiveness of different methods for controlling this invasive grass. Karen is now a Land Stewardship Manager at the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District.

Trisha Tierney Meisler (2002)

At Sonoma State, Trisha used an exclosure experiment to assess the effects of feral pig disturbances on vegetation and soil characteristics in a California coastal grassland.

Katherine L. Etienne (2001)

At Sonoma State, Katie completed masters research that evaluated the impact of human-caused disturbances on stream insect assemblages.

Sean G. McNeil (2001)

Sean's thesis research focused on the indirect effects of deer herbivory on nitorgen availability in a coastal dune. He currently works as an Environmental Specialist for the City of Santa Rosa. In this role, he writes grants to fund creek restoration projects and conducts rare-plant surveys, wetland delineations and biological assessments.

Darça J. Morgan (2001)

Darca's research focused on evaluating the influence of non-native plant invasions on riparian arthropods.

Peter J. Warner (2000)

At Sonoma State, Peter completed field experiments that evaluated the influence of mammalian herbivores on the growth and survival of a dominant nitrogen-fixing shrub. Since completing his masters degree, he has worked for many years as a botanical and ecological consultant for a range of conservation organizations.

Maria E. Alvarez (1999)

Maria's masters research involved a study that examined the effects of an exotic plant invader, cape ivy (Delairea odorata), on the composition of coastal plant communities. For many years, Maria has worked as a plant ecologist in the National Park Service at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in the Bay Area of northern California.



Jeffrey C. Waller (1998)

Jeff's research focused on the influence of shrubs on herbaceous plant assemblages in a coastal dune ecosystems. He is now Assistant Principal at Robertson High School in Fremont, California.




Mark A. Smith (1997)

At Sonoma State, Mark conducted a field experiment to evaluate the effects of deer and hares on growth of California buckwheat. He is now an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at Santiago Canyon College in southern California.

Past Postdoctoral Fellows:

Heather Davis

2006-09. Reproductive ecology and population genetics of rare vernal pool grasses.

Christopher J. Lortie

2001-02. Ecology of coastal dunes and the influence of mammalian herbivores on plant communities.

Past Research Technicians:

Sarah Gordon

2006-09. Reproductive ecology and population genetics of rare vernal pool grasses.

Morgan Kennedy

2008-09. Long-term study of disease dynamics and forest impacts caused by Phytophthora ramorumin northern California.

Melina Kozanitas

2007. Long-term study of disease dynamics and forest impacts caused by Phytophthora ramorumin northern California.

Heather Torpin

2006. Influence of vertebrates on the spread of Phytophthora ramorum, the pathogen that causes Sudden Oak Death.

Shelly Benson

2004-06. The role of vertebrates and land-use history in affecting the spread of Phytophthora ramorum, the pathogen that causes Sudden Oak Death.

Brian Anaker

2005-06. Factors affecting the distribution and abundance of Phytophthora ramorum, the pathogen that causes Sudden Oak Death.

Rebecca Anderson

2001-03. Effects of soil disturbances by feral pigs on grassland plant communities and ecosystems.

Michael Anthony

2001-02. Impacts of mammalian herbivores on plant community structure and ecosystem dynamics.

Erin Siska

2000-01. Influence of mammalian herbivores on three oak woodlands in northern California.

Jeanie Slagter

2000-01. Effects of soil disturbances by feral pigs on grassland plant communities and ecosystems.

Undergraduate Theses:

Kolaan Busbice

2013. The effects of large herbivore reintroduction on thatch accumulation in a California grassland.

Brian Jacques

2012. Impacts of reintroduced tule elk on the plant community at Tomales Point.

Cynthia To

2011. Effects of spring and summer clipping on the performance of yellow starthistle.

Amanda Carleton

2010. An experimental approach for restoring grasslands invaded by Harding grass (Phalaris aquatica), an exotic perennial grass.

Melissa Potter

2007. Factors influencing the abundance of an endangered lycaenid butterfly.

Thomas Degabrielle

2006. Influence of logging history on ground-dwelling arthropod communities at Galbreath Wildlands Preserve.

Melina Kozanitas

2004. Importance of humans as dispersal agents of a pathogen that causes Sudden Oak Death.

Heather Torpin

2004. Proximity to bay trees as a factor determining infection levels of coast live oaks.

Blake Potter

2003. Effects of deer and small mammals on the abundance and growth of juvenile oaks.

Lauren Conger

2001. Role of feral pig disturbances in facilitating invasion by yellow starthistle.

Tara Janulaw

2000. Use of principal components analysis to evaluate ecological data.

Corrie Robb

2000. Temporal variation in foraging behavior of leaf-cutter ants in Costa Rica.

Cara Ellman

1999. Heterogeneity in grassland plant communities: the role of feral pig disturbances.

Todd Vogel

1999. Competitive interactions and germination requirements of tarweed and yellow starthistle: comparison of native and non-native summer annuals.

Sarah Dunbar

1999. Influence of soil particle size on a dune plant community.

Anna Sears

1988. Influence of mule deer and jackrabbits on a coastal plant community: separating the effects of herbivory and scat deposition.

Derek Hoak

1998. Community structure effects of two shrubs on a coastal dune plant community.

Joy Edwards

1996. Indirect effects of mammalian herbivores on a galling midge of bush lupine.

Emily Raab

1996. Impact of the invasive plant Centaurea solstitialis on a grassland community.

Jon Paul Harries

1995. Effects of pocket gopher burrows on plant growth.