Welcome new PhD student, Amanda McCormick!

Amanda Cover

Amanda joined the Gratton lab (co-advised by Tony Ives) in September and will be working on a project trying to understand what causes the impressive population cycles of midges in Lake Myvatn, Iceland.  Here is more about Amanda who recently completed her Masters from Loyola University Chicago.

Welcome Amanda! Where are you originally from?

Crown Point, IN

What was your past research about?

My previous research for my MS focused on anthropogenic impacts on urban streams in the Chicago area. Specifically, I researched point sources and concentration of microplastic contamination in streams and the effect of this novel substrate on aquatic bacterial community composition.

What will you be working on in the Gratton lab?

I am involved in the Lake Myvatn project which aims to understand what drives the high amplitude and irregular population cycles of midges in the lake and how these dynamics influence other components of the aquatic ecosystem and the surrounding terrestrial landscape. Broadly, I am interested in community trophic interactions and consumer-resource dynamics. I am interested in how the food quality for midges may be influenced by biotic and abiotic factors in the lake, and how food quality and quantity influence midge growth rates (and possible implications for population cycling and community dynamics).

Where can we find you when not at work?

I’ve enjoyed exploring various parts of Madison via running, and checking out the numerous restaurants, coffee shops, etc. And I enjoy spending time with my boyfriend and two cats.

What are you looking forward to doing in Madison?

I really enjoy all of the outdoor activities available in Madison—and the beer and cheese!

What’s your favorite insect?

Out of loyalty to the study system, I will say Tanytarsus gracilentus

Tanytarsus gracilentus, the midge that hatches by the billions from Lake Myvatn, is helping scientists construct models to forecast natural and human-induced changes to ecosystems. Image courtesy courtesy çrni Einarsson, University of Iceland
Tanytarsus gracilentus, the midge that hatches by the billions from Lake Myvatn, is helping scientists construct models to forecast natural and human-induced changes to ecosystems. Image courtesy courtesy çrni Einarsson, University of Iceland


2015 Field Season Preview

As summer approaches, here’s a preview of the our fieldwork projects…

Katie sweeping

Pollinators in bioenergy landscapes: This project is trying to understand the impact pollinator conservation strips around switchgrass plantings have on native pollinator communities. Fieldwork will be conducted at study sites throughout Central Virginia working with partners in the biofuel industry as well as a groups focused on wildlife habitat and conservation. Methods will include a mix of pollinator and plant community measures including bee bowls, sweep samples, bee nesting boxes and plant surveys. Led by Kiley Friedrich.

Arthropod communities in bioenergy landscapes:  This field season is a continuation of a multi-year project aiming to understand how management of bioenergy crops such as grasslands, corn, soybean, influences the composition and functioning of arthropod communities and ecosystem services such as pest suppression and pollination.  Habitat characteristics will be analyzed at multiple spatial scales to understand how communities vary by landscape composition and land management. Led by Tania Kim and Brian Spiesman.


Trophic cascades in the face of White Nose Syndrome: The forecasted decline of cave-dwelling bats in the face of White Nose Syndrome, which causes up to 90% mortality, will act as a natural experiment to understand the role of bats as predators of arthropods in agricultural landscapes. In partnership with the Peery Lab and the Wisconsin DNR, this is the first field season of a 5-year project which will include acoustic monitoring of bat activity, next-generation sequencing of bat guano collected by citizen scientists, and insect trapping of natural enemies and agricultural pests. Led by Emma Pelton.


Bumblebee foraging: This summer is an expansion on RFID tracking efforts with bumblebees.  The aim is to determine if any relationship exists between bumblebee foraging and floral resources at a landscape scale.  If relationships do exist, this work will contribute to understanding which landscapes are best to help conserve wild bees. Led by Jeremy Hemberger.

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 (cgratton@wisc.edu).  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.

Application: http://go.wisc.edu/82byd7