Scientists & Staff
Project Leader / Landscape Ecologist
Institute for Applied Ecosystem Studies: Theory and Application of Scaling Science in Forestry
5985 Highway K
Rhinelander, Wisconsin 54501-9128
Current research focuses on (1) applying metapopulation, island biogeography, and gradient theoretical frameworks to examine how spatial and temporal habitat loss and fragmentation from changing land-use patterns affect biodiversity, (2) examining how forest management and restoration activities affect large-scale wildlife dispersal, habitat use, and conservation for multiple species groups to better link and integrate empirical evidence with theory, and (3) understanding the impacts of removing harvest residues (i.e., woody biomass) from native forests on biodiversity and other ecological services these forests provide. Several studies are using long-term monitoring and inventory data to determine how local and landscape factors influence populations (e.g., amphibians in vernal pools, beaver colonization events along trout streams across northern Wisconsin). Results have implications to current best management practices. I'm continuing research on the federally endangered Kirtland's Warbler with most recent activities assessing potential impacts of changing climate on the viability of Kirtland's Warblers by linking habitat and population stressors across winter and breeding grounds (i.e., migratory connectivity and full life-cycle modeling), analyzing 25 years of resighting records to determine short- and long-term dispersal movements during time periods with varying amounts of suitable habitat and populations levels, and how landscape factors have influenced brown-headed cowbirds trapping efficiencies over the past 25 years in Kirltand's Warbler Managerment Areas. I am also working with an interdisciplinary team investigating landscape resistance to movement and dispersal of wide-ranging species using landscape genetic approaches. Landscape genetics link large-scale landscape patterns iwth organism movement to determine how landscape features regulate populations. These approaches are being used to study coyote movements in New York, movement pattern of bats among winter hibernacula and summer roost sites, which also incorporates accoustic monitoring to determine movement patterns immediately following spring emergence. Adaptive genetic approaches are being used to determine resistance to White-Nose Syndrome in bat populations of the northern forest: exploring the critical disease-genotype-microbiome link. I continue to look for opportunities to investigate the impact of fine woody debris (FWD; <6 inches diameter) removal on above and belowground community assemblages, especially in rich soils under regenerating northern hardwood stands. Most recent research is assessing changes to butterfly pollinator diversity during a large-scale Northern Dry Forest and pine barren restoration project; primary objective is to determine how long after restoration activities will the butterfly community resemble surrounding barren's butterfly species assemblages, which incorporates the distance and size of restoration activities.
Research InterestsConservation and restoration of open lands and early succession habitats and the species that rely on these systems; applying metapopulation, island biogeography, and fragmentation theory to answer critical questions associated with impacts of large-scale land use and cover changes from forest management and human development; using a landscape genetics approach to investigate influence of landscape pattern on population processes
Why This Research is Important
Information gained from the bioenergy studies will provide land managers and policy makers with scientific information they need to evaluate the trade-offs of harvesting woody biomass for energy use or converting lands to hybrid poplars against other ecological services. Advances in metapopulation and biogeogrpahy theory within a habitat fragmentation and landscape resistance context (i.e., landscape genetics) will inform local to international decisions on population conservation and habitat resotration programs. Using long-term monitoring data will be applied to cumulative effects models that evaluate forest managment, and also help assess best management practices. The Kirtland's Warbler research will link expected habitat changes as a result in changing climate to short- and long-term population viability assessments that are required to aid conservation efforts of this endangered population. Results will also be applicable to the expanding topic of 'migratory connectivity'.
- University of Wisconsin - Gaylord Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies - Madison, WI, Ph.D. Environmental Studies, 2007
- University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, M.S. Wildlife Ecology, 1997
- University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, B.S. Wildlife Ecology, 1988
- Research Ecologist Northern Research Station
2009 - Current
- Wildlife Biologist Northern Research Station
1997 - 2009
- The Wildlife Society, Member (2006 - Current)
- Us-Iale (Landscape Ecology), Member (2005 - Current)
Awards & Recognition
- NRS Early Career Scientist Award, 2011
For pioneering the application of spatial ecology to bio-energy and endangered species research
Featured Publications & Products
- Donner, Deahn M.; Ribic, Christine A.; Beck, Albert J.; Higgins, Dale; Eklund, Dan; Reinecke, Susan. 2015. Woodland pond salamander abundance in relation to forest management and environmental conditions in northern Wisconsin. Journal of North American Herpetology. 2015(1): 34-42. .
- Donner, Deahn M.; Ribic, Christine A.; St. Pierre, Matthew; Eklund, Dan. 2011. Impacts of harvesting forest residues for bioenergy on herptofauna and herbaceous plant community assemblages in northern hardwood forests. In: Challenges of managing for early successional forests and associated species. SE and SW chapters of The Wisconsin Society of American Foresters & The Wisconsin Chapter of the Wildlife Society; 2011 March 1-3; Wisconsin Dells, WI: 17. Poster abstract.
- Donner, Deahn M.; Anderson, Dean; Eklund, Daniel; St.Pierre, Matthew. 2013. Large-scale forest composition influences northern goshawk nesting in Wisconsin. Journal of Wildlife Management 77(3): 495-504.
- Donner, Deahn M.; Ribic, Christine A.; Probst, John R. 2010. Patch dynamics and the timing of colonization-abandonment events by male Kirtland's Warblers in an early succession habitat. Biological Conservation. 143: 1159-1167.
- Zalesny, Ronald S., Jr..; Donner, Deahn M.; Coyle, David R.; Headlee, William L. 2012. An approach for siting poplar energy production systems to increase productivity and associated ecosystem services. Forest Ecology and Management. 284: 45-58.
- Bocetti, Carol I.; Donner, Deahn M.; Mayfield, Harold F. 2014. Kirtland's warbler (Setophaga kirtlandii) [revised]. The birds of North America online. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, Ornithology Lab. http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/019/articles/introduction (accessed July 28, 2014.).
- Donner, Deahn M.; Ribic, Christine A.; Probst, John R. 2009. Male Kirtland's Warblers' patch-level response to landscape structure during periods of varying population size and habitat amounts. Forest Ecology and Managment. 258: 1093-1101.
Publications & Products
- Headlee, William L.; Zalesny, Ronald S. Jr.; Donner, Deahn M.; Hall, Richard B. 2013. Using a process-based model (3-PG) to predict and map hybrid poplar biomass productivity in Minnesota and Wisconsin, USA. BioEnergy Research. 6: 196-210.
- Donner, Deahn M. 2013. [Book review] The Kirtland's Warbler: The Story of a Bird's Fight against extinction and the People Who Saved It . The Auk. 130(2): 393-394.
- Donner, Deahn M.; Ribic, Christine A.; St. Pierre, Matthew; Eklund, Daniel. 2011. Harvesting forest residues for bioenergy influences amphibian and herbaceous plant community assemblages in northern hardwood forests. In: 26th annual landscape ecology symposium. Sustainability in dynamic landscapes; 2011 April 3-7; Portland, Oregon. U.S. International Association for Landscape Ecology: 152. Abstract.
- Probst, John R.; Donner, Deahn M. 2011. Kirtland's Warbler (Setophaga kirtlankii). In: The Second Michigan Breeding Bird Atlas. Kalamazoo Nature Center, Kalamazoo, MI. 5 p. Available at: http://www.mibirdatlas.org/.
- Padley, Eunice A.; Donner, Deahn M.; Fassnacht, Karin S.; Zalesny, Ronald S., Jr..; Birr, Bruce; Martin, Karl J. 2011. Managing carbon sequestration and storage in northern hardwood forests. In: Challenges of managing for early successional forests and associated species. SE and SW chapters of The Wisconsin Society of American Foresters & The Wisconsin Chapter of the Wildlife Society; 2011 March 1-3; Wisconsin Dells, WI: 37. Poster abstract.
- Kashian, Daniel; Corace, Gregory; Shartell, Lindsey; Donner, Deahn M.; Huber, Philip. 2011. Variability and persistence of post-fire biological legacies in jack pine-dominated ecosystems of northern Lower Michigan. In: 26th annual landscape ecology symposium. Sustainability in dynamic landscapes; 2011 April 3-7; Portland, Oregon. U.S. International Association for Landscape Ecology: 137. Abstract.
- Zalesny, R.S. Jr.; Donner, D.M.; Coyle, D.R.; Headlee, W.L.; Hall, R.B. 2010. An approach for siting poplar energy production systems to increase productivity and associated ecosystem services. In: Fifth international poplar symposium: Poplars and willows: from research models to multipurpose trees for a biobased society; 2010 September 20-25; Orvieto, Italy. IUFRO: 110.
- Donner, Deahn; Zalesny, Ron, Jr. 2010. Potential Land-use changes with Woody Energy Corp Production in Wisconsin and Minnesota. In: US-IALE 25th annual landscape ecology symposium. Is what humans do natural; 2010 April 5-9; Athens, GA.: 51. Abstract.
- Donner, Deahn M.; Probst, John R. 2009. A Kirtland's warbler management at regional, landscape, and local scales; 2009 August 25-26; Odanah, WI. In: Midwest jack pine symposium. 2 p.
- Donner, Deanh M.; Probst, John R.; Ribic, Christine A. 2008. Influence of habitat amount, arrangement, and use on population trend estimates of male Kirtland's warblers. Landscape Ecology. 23: 467-480.
- Probst, John R.; Donner, Deahn M.; Bozek, Michael A. 2007. Continuous, age-related plumage variation in male Kirtland's Warblers. J. Field Ornithol. 78(1):100-108.
- Wiese, A.H.; Zalesny, J.A.; Donner, D.M.; Zalesny, Ronald S., Jr. 2006. Bud removal affects shoot, root, and callus development of hardwood Populus cuttings. Silvae Genetica. 55: 141-148.
- Probst, John R.; Donner, Deahn M.; Worland, Mike; Weinrich, Jerry; Huber, Phillip; Ennis, Kenneth R. 2005. Comparing census methods for the endangered Kirtland's Warbler. J. Field Ornithol. 76(1):50?60, 2005.
- Probst, John R.; DonnerWright, Deahn. 2003. Fire and shade effects on ground cover structure in Kirtland's warbler habitat. Am. Midl. Nat. 149:320?334.
- Probst, John R.; Donner, Deahn M.; Bocetti, Carol I.; Sjogren, Steve. 2003. Population increase in Kirtland's warbler and summer range expansion to Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula, USA. Oryx 37(3):365-373.
- Probst, John R.; Donner, Deahn; Bocetti, Carol I.; Sjogren, Steve. 2003. Population increase in Kirtland's warbler and summer range expansion to Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula, USA. Oryx Vol 37 No 3 July 2003, 365-373.
- DonnerWright, Deahn; Bozek, Michael A.; Probst, John R.; Anderson, Eric M. 1999. Responses of turtle assemblage to environmental gradients in the St. Croix River in Minnesota and Wisconsin, U.S.A.. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 77: 989-1000. (1999).
National Research Highlights
Effect of Woody Biomass Removal on Forest Biodiversity and Nutrient Cycling (2012)
Findings represent short-term effects and give a baseline for long-term study
How Large-scale Forest Conditions Influence Northern Goshawk Nesting (2011)
Efforts to better understand nesting habitat requirements of the northern goshawk, a forest-sensitive species in northern Wisconsin, were enhanced by a collaborative research-management project. Forest Service scientists analyzed 10 years of nest survey data from the Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest and found that the key determinant of goshawk nest occurrence was the ratio of conifer cover to aspen-birch cover surrounding a potential nest site.
Landscape-scale Effects of Beaver Removal on a Managed Forest (2014)
Beavers and their dams have been removed from Class I and II trout streams within Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest since the late 1980s to restore stream channel integrity and improve trout habitat. A Forest Service scientist and partners evaluated the effectiveness of reducing beaver numbers on managed streams by comparing trends in beaver colony counts using fall flight colony location data from 1987-2013. Although beaver populations declined only on managed streams on the west side of the forest, managed and non-managed streams on the east side of the forest also had declining beaver populations, indicating a system change occurred.
Scientists Discover Earlier Shift in Peak Salamander Numbers at Woodland Ponds (2013)
Forest Service scientists analyzed salamander monitoring data taken at breeding woodland ponds in the early 1990s to mid-2000s and found that the shift in peak salamander numbers, and site-specific warming air and water temperatures, had occurred two weeks earlier. This earlier shift has not been documented previously in the upper Great Lakes region. Their findings contribute to growing evidence that amphibian populations may be some of the early species responding to changing temperature and precipitation trends by shifting spring movement and reproductive efforts. Awareness of how salamander populations are adapting to these changes will help managers adjust activities during vulnerable periods, and help ensure that monitoring activities do not miss peak salamander numbers in the upper Great Lakes region.