Key speakers

We were pleased to feature several key speakers at this year’s conference. We will post additional details as they become available this fall.

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Nelson Ham

Professor, St. Norbert College

Wisconsin’s wetlands in geologic time: How the last ice age shaped our wetland landscapes

It’s long been known that the Wisconsin Glaciation played a prominent role in shaping Wisconsin’s wetlands’ landscapes, with important implications for wetland delineation, hydrology, ecology, and restoration.  However, recent advances in geologic mapping, dating methods, and remote sensing have dramatically increased our knowledge of the last glaciation in Wisconsin and our understanding of the specific relationships between glacial landforms and wetlands.  The Laurentide Ice Sheet covered much of northern and eastern Wisconsin between about 15,000 and 30,000 years ago and greatly modified the pre-glacial landscape.  While the pattern of glacial landforms is generally the same across much of the region, important differences influenced the style of wetlands that formed in any one area.  For example, high-relief, sandy moraines in northern Wisconsin allowed for the development of deep kettle bogs.  In contrast, low relief, silty-clayey moraines in eastern Wisconsin encouraged the formation of shallow wetlands similar to the famous prairie-pothole region of the Great Plains.  Wisconsin’s glacial deposits even preserve evidence of “fossil” wetlands that were buried by late advances of the ice sheet.  This presentation will explore the relationship between glacial history, landforms, deposits, and wetlands across Wisconsin.

Dr. Nelson Ham will talk on the morning of Wednesday, February 21st.

About Nelson Ham

Dr. Nelson Ham has been a professor of geology and environmental science at St. Norbert College for 30 years. He earned his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in geology at UW-Madison, with research on modern glacier processes in Alaska and the origins of Wisconsin’s landscapes. In recent years, he has turned his focus on the geology and environmental history of Wisconsin trout streams, especially the role of the Fur Trade and early logging in modifying stream hydrology with implications for stream restoration. He has led or co-led field trips on the topic for members of the Wisconsin Dept of Natural Resources, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Trout Unlimited, and the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. He lives in De Pere with his wife and two children on former farmland that has returned to wetlands.

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Mandy Banet, Robert Howe, and Amy Wolf

UW-Green Bay

Great wetlands: Reflections on the past, present, and future for Green Bay’s coastal treasures

Coastal wetlands are part of what makes the Green Bay region so important and special. Drs. Robert Howe and Amy Wolf will share their experiences as part of the community studying and caring for the region’s wetlands with Dr. Amanda Banet, the new Director of the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity at UW-Green Bay, in this interactive plenary presentation. Howe and Wolf will offer a virtual tour of some of the region’s most vital coastal wetlands and share reflections on both past and future challenges and opportunities. How have past decisions and work set the stage for things happening with coastal wetlands today? How are decisions being made and work being done today setting us up for the future? What are some of the greatest challenges and opportunities with respect to wetlands in the region?  What does the future hold for Wisconsin’s coastal wetlands, and how can we help shape it?

Mandy Banet, Bob Howe, and Amy Wolf will talk on the morning of February 22nd.

About Mandy Banet, Robert Howe, and Amy Wolf

Mandy Banet became the Director of the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity (CCB) in June 2023. She provides support and direction for all the Center’s activities. Prior to joining the CCB, Mandy was a tenured associate professor at California State University, Chico, where she taught graduate and undergraduate courses in ecology, ran a research program focused on conservation biology and ecophysiology, acted as the monitoring lead for a multi-agency collaborative habitat restoration project on the Sacramento River, and worked closely with the director and staff of the university’s ecological reserves. She has a bachelor’s in biology from Indiana University, Bloomington and a Ph.D. in biology from University of California, Riverside.

Robert (Bob) Howe was the founding Director of the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity and a Professor of Biology in the Department of Natural and Applied Sciences. He began his career at UW-Green Bay in 1984 teaching courses in environmental science, conservation, ecology, mammalogy, and ornithology. In addition to administrative responsibilities with the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity, he maintained an active research program involving bird population dynamics, restoration ecology, forest ecosystems, endangered species, ecological indicators, and the ecology and conservation of Great Lakes coastal wetlands. Bob is author or co-author of more than 100 scientific publications, including The Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Wisconsin and papers in international journals like Science, Ecology, Evolution, Conservation Biology, Biological Conservation, and Landscape Ecology. His research collaborators include scientists from every continent except Antarctica. Bob, along with the rest of the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity, received the Founder Award for Excellence in Collaborative Achievement in 2022. He retired in 2022.

Amy Wolf is a Professor of Natural and Applied Sciences at UW-Green Bay. Her work focuses on the ecology of plant-animal interactions, including studies of host-specific insects (northern blue butterfly), rare plants (serpentine morning glory), and Wisconsin bees. She teaches an upper level and graduate course in wetland ecology at UW-Green Bay, and in 2006 she and Brad Herrick received the Chandler-Misener Award from the Journal of Great Lakes Research for their paper on diked vs. undiked coastal wetlands. She is a co-leader of the Wabikon Forest Dynamics Plot, part of a global network of intensive, long-term forest research sites initiated by the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Tropical Forest Science. Undergraduates and graduate students under her supervision have studied invasive plant species, aquatic macrophytes, forest understory plants, bat biology, and pollination ecology. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UW-Green Bay in biology and environmental science and policy (respectively) and her Ph.D. in ecology from the University of California at Davis.