Scientists & Staff
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 (2006 - Current)
- Us-Iale (Landscape Ecology) (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.; 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
- Donner, Deahn M.; Brown, Donald J.; Ribic, Christine A.; Nelson, Mark ; Greco, Tim. 2018. Managing forest habitat for conservation-reliant species in a changing climate: The case of the endangered Kirtland's Warbler. Forest Ecology and Management
- Wolcott, Daniel M.; Donner, Deahn M.; Brown, Donald J.; Ribic, Christine A. 2018. Kirtland's warbler winter habitat changes across the Bahamian Archipelago in response to future climate-condition scenarios. Caribbean Naturalist. 49: 1-20.
- Brown, Donald J.; Ribic, Christine A.; Donner, Deahn M.; Nelson, Mark D.; Bocetti, Carol I.; Deloria-Sheffield, Christie M.; Thompson, Des. 2017. Using a full annual cycle model to evaluate long-term population viability of the conservation-reliant Kirtland's warbler after successful recovery. Journal of Applied Ecology
- Donner, Deahn M.; Wigley, T. Bently; Miller, Darren A. 2017. Forest biodiversity and woody biomass harvesting. In: Efroymson, R.A.; Langholtz, M.H.; Johnson, K.E.; Stokes, B.J., eds. Advancing domestic resources for a thriving bioeconomy, volume 2: Environmental sustainability effects of select scenarios from volume 1. ORNL/TM-2016/727. Oak Ridge, TN: U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory: 398-447. Chapter 11. https://doi.org/10.2172/1338837.
- Ribic, Christine A.; Donner, Deahn M.; Beck, Albert J.; Rugg, David J.; Reinecke, Sue; Eklund, Dan. 2017. Beaver colony density trends on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, 1987-2013. PLOS ONE. 12(1): e0170099-.
- Brown, Donald J.; Nelson, Mark D.; Rugg, David J.; Buech, Richard R.; Donner, Deahn M. 2016. Spatial and temporal habitat-use patterns of wood turtles at the western edge of their distribution. Journal of Herpetology. 50(3): 347-356.
- Ribic, Christine A.; Rugg, David J.; Donner, Deahn M.; Beck, Albert J.; Byers, BJ. 2016. The Moquah Barrens Research Natural Area: Loss of a pine barrens ecosystem. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-161. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 25 p.
- 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.
- 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.
- Kashian, Daniel M.; Gregory Corace, R.; Shartell, Lindsey M.; Donner, Deahn M.; Huber, Philip W. 2012. Variability and persistence of post-fire biological legacies in jack pine-dominated ecosystems of northern Lower Michigan. Forest Ecology and Management
- 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.
- 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.
- Padley, Eunice A.; Donner, Deahn M.; Fassnacht, Karin S.; Zalesny, Ronald S.; 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.
- 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/
- Donner, Deahn; Zalesny, Ron. 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.
- 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 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.; 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
- 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
- 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)
- Reinecke, Susan; Eklund, Daniel A.; Donner, Deahn M.; Beck, Albert J.; Rugg, David J. 2016. Beaver monitoring data from the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Wisconsin. Fort Collins, CO: Forest Service Research Data Archive. https://doi.org/10.2737/RDS-2016-0013.
- Headlee, William L.; Lietz, Sue M.; Baumann, Tina M.; Zalesny, Ronald S. Jr.; Donner, Deahn M.; Hall, Richard B. 2016. Final spatial and tabular data from a process-based model (3-PG) used to predict and map hybrid poplar biomass productivity in Minnesota and Wisconsin, USA. Fort Collins, CO: Forest Service Research Data Archive. https://doi.org/10.2737/RDS-2016-0029.
- Headlee, William L.; Lietz, Sue M.; Baumann, Tina M.; Zalesny, Ronald S. Jr.; Donner, Deahn M.; Coyle, David R. 2016. Final spatial and tabular poplar biomass estimates for Minnesota and Wisconsin, USA based on the approach for siting poplar energy production systems to increase productivity and associated ecosystem services. Fort Collins, CO: Forest Service Research Data Archive. https://doi.org/10.2737/RDS-2016-0030.
National Research Highlights
Scientists study the potential implications of expanding woody biomass harvesting to forest biodiversity?
Demand for wood biomass to help meet the nation’s renewable energy needs raises questions about the implications of removing small-diameter whole trees as well as logging residues (tops and limbs) from forests. The U.S. Department of Energy's 2016 Billion-Ton Report, Volume 1, identified a vast national potential of biomass resources that could be available for industrial uses in the future, but what are the potential environmental implications to our forests with an expanded forest biomass production program?
The answer to that question may be key to their survival. Understanding how bats use the landscape during all stages of their life cycle is crucial to helping restore populations that emerge from hibernation in a weakened condition as a result of white-nose syndrome.
Efforts to better understand habitat use patterns of the wood turtle at the western edge of their range is important for range-wide conservation. Forest Service scientists analyzed radio telemetry data from northeast Minnesota to assess habitat associations and space-use patterns and found wood turtles generally remained within 100 meters of flowing water, but they appeared to prefer other aquatic and semi-aquatic habitats when not adjacent to flowing water.
Bats provide an important ecosystem services: They are voracious eaters of insects and can eat their body weight in insects every night. Unfortunately, many cave dwelling bat populations in the East and Midwest are declining drastically due to the expansion of white-nose syndrome across the United States. To increase bat awareness among youth, a Forest Service scientists worked with local teachers to give live bat demonstrations, presentations, and instruction on building bat houses through collaborations with local businesses. Students learned how to install houses to maximize use by bats.
Coyotes are widely distributed, highly mobile predators that exhibit regional differences in habitat affinities, prey specialization, social aggregation, and movement patterns. Reasons for this regional variability are not easily explained given that coyotes are habitat generalists. Forest Service scientists worked with research partners to identify the contact zone of two colonizing fronts in New York, using genetic techniques to better understand reported differences in coyote ecology across the state. Coyotes in rugged forested regions were found to be genetically different from coyotes in the hilly, mixed agricultural-forest areas of the state. Including spatial data allowed scientists to differentiate coyote lineages that could not be identified through other means.
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.
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.
Findings represent short-term effects and give a baseline for long-term study
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.