PhotoIn the beginning... I was born in the tiny town of Delaware Water Gap, nestled in the Appalachian Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania.I spent much of my childhood exploring the lush forests, rocky ridgelines, abundant waterfalls, and wide rivers of this beautiful region and its rich biodiversity.It was here that I first developed a deep fascination and curiosity about wildlife and ecology. My dad and I traveled from the rocky coasts of Maine, to the high peaks of the Smokies, to the clear blue waters of the Everglades. Although I was impressed with the diversity of the east, a subscription to National Geographic when I was about 10 sparked a yearning to explore the world from the rainforests of Borneo to the cultures of the Himalaya. Photo: The Pocono Mountains where I grew up. JL Kellermann
The awe of tropical rainforest... After high school, I attended Penn State where I attained multiple degrees in anthropology and psychology with a focus on human ecology and evolution.The summer before my last year at Penn State I volunteered at the Bilsa Biological Reserve in northwest Ecuador, collecting botanical and entomological specimens and doing reforestation of logged areas. The stunning biodiversity of the tropical rainforest and the knowledge and insight of the ecologists I worked with inspired me to pursue a career in ecology. Photo: Unknown butterfly species in the tropical rainforests of Northwestern Ecuador - Bilsa Biosphere Reserve. JL Kellermann
Island style, from the mountains to the ocean, from the windward to the leeward side... Upon graduating from Penn State, like many new grads, I was in search of a job I found fun and exciting, was in a cool place, and included a lot of time outside.I took an internship on the Big Island of Hawaii at the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center, a facility that breeds and raises endangered birds for restoration of wild populations in tHawaii.This position changed my life forever.While at Keauhou, we raised a large group of Puaiohi, Small Kauai Thrush for release into the wilds of the Alakai Rainforest of Kauai.The next season found me working as a technician with the USGS radio-tracking released birds in one of the rainiest and most rugged places on Earth (>450 inches of rain per year!), working to recover a species with only 300 known individuals left in the wild. Photo: Halape, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawai'i. JL Kellermann
Not all who wander are lost... After a third year working with the Puaiohi recovery project, which has since evloved into the Kauai Forest Bird Project, I returned to the mainland to further my experience and skill set in avian ecology and research techniques. I banded and surveyed birds in eastern Oregon and northern California, radio-tracked endangered Parrots in the Bahamas, and searched for Mexican Spotted Owls in the wilderness of New Mexico. With more than seven years of experience as a field biologist under my belt, I felt ready to begin my graduate school career to continue my academic education in wildlife ecology, management, study design, and analytical techniques. Photo: Endemic and endangered Abaco Bahama Parrots, Abaco Islad, Bahamas, JL Kellermann
One more cup of coffee... Eventually I settled in Arcata, CA where I worked with the USFS Pacific Southwest Research Station’s Redwood Sciences Lab studying American Dippers on the undammed Smith River. RSL neighbors Humboldt State University, home of a renowned, top-notch wildlife program. At HSU I met Dr. Matt Johnson. Matt had plans to return to the Caribbean island of Jamaica where he did his PhD research and begin study of ecosystem services of birds on coffee farms. We developed a field experiment, gathered some funding, and I soon found myself (along with my future wife) quantifying the ecological and economic services of birds in Blue Mountain coffee farms of Jamaica. You can read more about the role of birds controlling coffee berry-borer here and here. Photo: My wife, Amy at the Wallenford Coffee farm, Jamaica. The shrubs below her are coffee bushes. The mountains in the background are part of the Blue Mountains National Park. JL Kellermann
A la frontera... After graduating from HSU, and a short stint as a biologist at Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, my wife and I moved to the Sonoran Desert and Tucson where I pursued a PhD at the University of Arizona. The Madrean “Sky Island” mountains form an archipelago of upland and montane habitats within a sea of desert shrubland and grassland. Here we explored spatial and temporal patterns of spring songbird migration, their relationship with plant phenology, and the influence of climate. Read a recent publication of phenological synchrony of birds and the vegetation of their stopover habitat here.
Photo: Vermilion Flycatcher, San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, Arizona. JL Kellermann
The only constant is change... My doctoral research on phenology lead me to spend two years working with the USA National Phenology Network. My time with this amazing group of scientists exposed me directly to the potential power of citizen science and national scale collaborative efforts. With the goal of understanding the impacts of climate change on plant and animal phenology at a continental scale and the help of amateur naturalists and professional scientists alike, the USA-NPN has developed a massive database of information on over 800 species that can be used to address some of the world’s most pressing ecological problems. Photo: Cholla cactus flower, Sabino Canyon, Santa Catalina Mountains, Tucson, Arizona. JL Kellermann
The Klamath Connection My experience over the past two decades prepared me well for my current position as assistant professor at OIT. My job allows me to share my experience and knowledge of wildlife and ecology with students through teaching and experiential learning, to advise student research projects, and assist in a diversity of complex natural resource and technology projects.
Photo: Tosha Bunnel, inspects Wocus water lilly for Wocus beetles as part of her senior project in Environmental Sciences at OIT, Wood River Wetland Recreation Area, Upper Klamath Lake with Mountain Lakes Wilderness in the distance.