Athens, Ga. – The ringtail, a relative of the raccoon, is a nocturnal creature that lives in arid regions of western North America. Despite their solitary nature, they have long been known to inhabit national park buildings in southern Utah, where they scavenge food from trash cans. This makes them an excellent subject for University of Georgia ecologist Anna Willoughby, who studies how resources provided by people influence animal behavior and parasites. But because they’re so elusive, getting enough field observations of ringtails posed a challenge. To solve it, Willoughby turned to a novel source: photos and videos posted to social media.
“Ringtails have such a large range in the U.S. and Mexico that photos from social media provide a richer data set than one researcher can get alone,” she said.
Willoughby’s findings about the effectiveness of using data gleaned from social media will be featured during the 105th annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America, which takes place online from Aug. 3-6, 2020.
She is one of 26 University of Georgia faculty, students and postdoctoral associates participating in this year’s event, with representatives from the Odum School of Ecology, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, Savannah River Ecology Laboratory and College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. They will cover topics ranging from the restoration and management of maritime forests to environmental effects on parasite abundance to strategies for science education.
The Odum School will host a virtual alumni mixer via Zoom from 6:30-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 5. All UGA alumni, current and prospective students, current and former faculty, staff, and postdocs, and friends of UGA ecology who are registered for the annual meeting are invited to attend. Details will be found on the annual meeting website.
UGA Presenters at the 2020 ESA Annual Meeting
- Rebecca B. Abney, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources: Mycorrhizae drive soil organic matter composition in temperate forest ecosystems
- Jesse Abrams, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and Savannah River Ecology Laboratory: Operationalizing resilience in U.S. National Forest management: A multi-methods analysis
- Kaylee Arnold, Odum School of Ecology and Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases: The gut microbial diversity of a Chagas disease vector varies across coinfection status and habitat type throughout central Panama
- James C. Beasley, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources Savannah River Ecology Lab: Radioactive Wildlife: Impacts of the Chernobyl and Fukushima Nuclear Accidents on Large Mammals
- Y. Anny Chung, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Department of Plant Biology and College of Agricultural and Ecological Sciences Department of Plant Pathology: From phenomenon to mechanism: are plant-soil feedbacks maintaining coexistence in the sagebrush steppe?
- Dessa L. Dunn, Odum School of Ecology: Developing a decision-support tool for management alternatives to restore and conserve maritime live oak forests
- John M. Drake, Odum School of Ecology and Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases: Estimating niche boundaries using artificial intelligence
- Reham Fekry El-Barougy, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Department of Biology: Contrasting alien impact on native diversity along biotic and abiotic gradients in an arid protected area
- Kaitlin J. Farrell, Odum School of Ecology: Lather, rinse, reuse – are our archived data valuable or all wet? and Hands-on ecosystem modeling activities increase students’ understanding of macrosystems ecology
- Kamal Gandhi, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources: Extent, severity, and contributors to the dieback of pine stands in the southeastern U.S.
- Monica Harmon, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources: Grass-stage pine seedling physiology: water use under droughty conditions differs across soil types
- RajReni B. Kaul, Odum School of Ecology and Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases: From the endzone to STEMzone and back
- Nicolas L. Louw, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Department of Plant Biology: Increased precipitation variability alters the composition and function of the soil mycobiome
- David Love, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources: Hydraulic conductance and vulnerability segmentation in Pinus shoots
- Hannah Morris, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources & the Integrative Conservation Program: Islands of knowledge and knowledge of islands
- Jessie I. Motes, Odum School of Ecology: Nitrogen inputs and losses following disturbance: a slippery slope
- Jessica O’Connell, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Department of Marine Sciences: Structural heterogeneity in above vs. belowground biomass pools differ for Spartina alterniflora monocultures, with consequences for forecasting ecosystem resiliency
- Callie A. Oldfield, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Department of Plant Biology: A comparison of soil respiration at two wind disturbed forests in the southeastern USA
- Robert L. Richards, Odum School of Ecology and Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases: Do predators keep prey healthy or make them sicker? A meta-analysis
- Jacob Simon, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Department of Marine Sciences: A picture is worth a thousand words: Characterization of salt marsh plant communities in a Georgia salt marsh through photographic annotation
- Daniel Suh, Odum School of Ecology: Exploring the differential competence of communities by observing ranavirus in larval amphibian communities
- David Vasquez, Odum School of Ecology and Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases, IDEAS Program: Drivers of parasite abundance: environmental vs host effects
- Sam Weber, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Department of Geography: Risks for cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms due to land management and climate interactions
- Anna R Willoughby, Odum School of Ecology and Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases: Using social media records to expand knowledge of wildlife behavior and ecology: Ringtails as a case study
- Luke A. Wilson, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources: It’s the Heat and the Humidity: Anatomical and Physiological Traits Within Pine Needles Predict Response to Changes in VPD
- Dehai Zhao, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources: Statistical analysis methods for augmented factorial experiments and fractional compositional data
UGA Ecology Alumni and Former Faculty, Staff and Postdoc Presenters at the 2020 ESA Annual Meeting
- Tad Dallas, PhD ’16; Louisiana State University: Understanding the long tail of patch extinction times in a classic metapopulation system
- Evelyn Gaiser, PhD ’97; Florida International University: Long term ecological research and evolving frameworks of disturbance ecology
- Alyssa-Lois Gehman, PhD ’16: University of British Columbia: Competing species have opposing response to disease outbreak
- Peter Groffman, PhD ’84; Advanced Science Research Center at the Graduate Center, CUNY: Nitrogen oligotrophication in northern hardwood forests
- Mallory Harris, BS ’19; Stanford University: Climate drives spatial variation in Zika epidemics in Latin America
- John Kominoski, PhD ’08; Florida International University: Differences in organic matter processing rates in marsh-mangrove wetlands are homogenized following a major hurricane
- Kyung Ah Koo, PhD ’09; Korea Environment Institute: Assessing the effects of land-use and climate change on the plant distribution under limited migration capacity
- Andrew Kramer, former Assistant Research Scientist; University of South Florida: Environmental and biotic interactions have differential effects on species presence and abundance in a diverse zooplankton community
- David W.P. Manning, PhD ’15; University of Nebraska at Omaha: Leveraging open-access time series data to understand flood responses in Great Plains rivers
- Erin Mordecai, BS ’07; Stanford University: Impacts of climate on vector-borne disease transmission
- Paula Pappalardo, former postdoc; Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: Improving taxonomic assignment of DNA metabarcoding with taxonomic expertise
- Mitchell Pavao-Zuckerman, PhD ’03; University of Maryland: Assessing perception and prioritization of green infrastructure ecosystem services for water sustainability in a semi-arid city
- Richard P. Shefferson, former faculty; University of Tokyo: Individual history in population models: A general approach in R
- Gaston “Chip” Small, PhD ’10; University of St. Thomas, MN: Effects of soil amendments and crop varieties on evapotranspiration in an urban garden and potential for urban heat island mitigation
- O. Stribling Stuber, MS ’13; The Jones Center at Ichauway: When fire is suppressed, pine woodlands lose water
- Katherine Zarada, BS ’15; Boston University: Generalized visualizations for near-term ecological forecasts: Improving forecasting and supporting decisions through the NEFI ShinyApp
Photo: Doctoral student Anna Willoughby used photographs of ringtails, like this one of a ringtail perched on a camera fixture that was shared on the website iNaturalist, to supplement her field observations of these elusive nocturnal creatures. Credit: © robert_dwyer, Cc by nc small some rights reserved. This photo has been slightly cropped from the original.