Using isotopes to track nutrients

Intrepid post-doc alum David Hoekman, who is now a staff scientist at NEON Inc., the NSF-funded center for continental scale ecology and monitoring recently wrote this piece for their blog on his research in Iceland.  Thanks David for the great summary!

Tracking isotopes to illuminate Nature’s grand recycling program


January 22, 2013


midge addition experiment

As I stand in the sun on the shore of a beautiful Icelandic lake, the wind dies down and the midges rise from their resting places in the lakeshore grasses and wildflowers. The fog of midges quickly thickens and I am soon engulfed and surrounded by the noise of millions of tiny wings buzzing around me.

…. Read More



Posted by Claudio

Bring it On! Fall 2012

With the Autumnal Equinox just around the corner (Saturday the 22nd in fact…) we find the Fall semester here at UW-Madison well under way.  The Gratton Lab has is saying “Farewell!” to our postdocs David, who has already left for NEON, and Heidi who will be leaving us shortly for Sewanee.  We’ve also added a new Master’s student in agroecology Emma Pelton who happens to like deserts among other things.

Switching gears, the Iceland Team has recently released their debut music video that we share with you below…  Enjoy!

YouTube Preview Image

PhD position available

Interested in graduate school?  Want to work at an exotic, remote field site near the arctic circle? Interested in the linkages between lakes and land. Then read on!

PhD Research Assistantship in Terrestrial Food Web Ecology

University of Wisconsin – Madison

We are looking for a motivated student interested in pursuing a PhD at the UW-Madison as part of the Gratton Lab studying the interactions between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.  This work takes place at a biologically rich and scenic area in northeast Iceland, centered on Lake Myvatn.  An ideal candidate needs to have a solid background in biology or ecology, have some prior research or field experience, and be able work in Iceland for summer field work.  Candidates should have interests in arthropod food web ecology, community ecology, aquatic-terrestrial linkages, linkages between below- and above-ground food webs and/or the role of arthropods in ecosystem processes.

For more information on this project visit the these links: Project linkResearch Blog

This research is part of a broad collaborative effort including Claudio Gratton (Entomology), Tony Ives (Zoology), Randy Jackson (Agronomy), Phil Townsend (Forestry and Wildlife Ecology), and Jake Vander Zanden (Center for Limnology/Zoology) at the University of Wisconsin.  Students will be applying through the Zoology program.  Graduate support would include a mix of research and teaching assistantships.

To apply, please complete this cover sheet and send this with a cover letter outlining your research interests, prior experiences and why you want to go to graduate school and join our group, CV, and names of 3 references as a single pdf file to Claudio Gratton (  Deadline: Fall 2013 TBD.

If you are planning on attending the 2013 Ecological Society Meeting in Minneapolis, MN, we can try to schedule a meeting there.


How did the Iceland project get started?

This is probably one of the most frequent questions I get when I tell people about the work we do here in Iceland. How does someone who has worked mainly in temperate areas, mostly in agricultural systems and salt marshes, with no general propensity for nordic climates (the southern European thing, you know), end up working in Iceland? Hmm, good question!

If you want to read more, click over to my recent Smidge of Midge blog post.  

Arni Claudio Randy at Kvirkfjoll

Above: Arni, Claudio and Randy (L-R).

Posted by Claudio

Undergraduate Poster Session

Yesterday the annual Biology 152 poster session took place in Union South, and three of the more than three hundred and sixty posters in Varsity Hall came from the Gratton Lab.  Heidi, Rachel, and I have been mentoring undergraduates through independent research as part of this course.  It is a lot of fun and very rewarding to work with undergraduates and help them to understand what “real” science is all about.  I think that I can speak for all of us, mentors and mentored, when I say that this has been a very very rewarding experience!


Valentine and I.









Heidi and Darin.









Rachel and Melissa.