Tammy has been part of the Hellmann lab group since December 2011 but has been working on the lab’s joint investigation of the effects of climate change on the endangered Karner blue butterfly since May 2010. She spends a good portion of her time at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in Porter, Indiana, home of the southernmost populations of Karner blue butterflies, with USGS colleagues, Ralph Grundel and Noel Pavlovic. Previously, Tammy was responsible for field studies in the Karner blue., but she continues to participate in data analysis and GIS modeling of the microclimate habitat of the butterfly, modeling the butterfly’s habitat preferences with remote sensing data, and modeling the preferences of the butterfly’s host plant, wild lupine, at the Dunes.
In August 2013, the Hellmann Lab along with a team of investigators received an Upper Midwest Great Lakes Landscape Conservation Cooperative (UMGL LCC) grant: Assessment of Waterfowl Habitat Restoration as an Adaptive Mechanism for Water Sustainability in the Grand Kankakee River Watershed. Tammy serves as the project manager and lead analyst on this project. The project is building a scenario planning decision support tool for land managers that combines hydrologic models with ecosystem service valuation for waterfowl habitat, hunter value, recreational user value, and agriculture in the Kankakee River watershed. This project is a first step in designing and implementing green infrastructure that not only enhances biodiversity, but sustainably benefits agriculture and urban development into the future under climate change. She aims for the Kankakee watershed to emerge as a model landscape for ways to meld agriculture, restoration, and urbanization with climate mitigation and adaptation.
Investigators outside the Hellmann lab on this Kankakee project include: Alan Hamlet, surface water hydrologist; Diogo Bolster, groundwater hydrologist; Mark Schurr, archeologist; Jason McLachlan, paleoecologist; Ralph Grundel, animal ecologist (USGS), Noel Pavlovic (USGS), botanist; and Dave Lampe (USGS), groundwater hydrologist. The project also supports 6 UND undergraduate research assistants: Kim Bauer and Caitlin Broderick working to reconstruct the historic marsh via the PalEON project; Caitlin Brysi, Sarah Hogan, and Sarah Clark who are working on ecosystem service valuation; and Thomas Rieth who is researching historic resource extraction from the region.
Tammy completed my MS degree in Conservation Biology in 2009 at the University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources and the Environment in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She also has a BS in ecology and AS in veterinary technology from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Why the Kankakee? The Kankakee River watershed spans 17 counties and three states—Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan and was once home to the Grand Kankakee Marsh, a world class wetland, spanned more than 600,000 acres! The original Kankakee River meandered 250 miles, through more than 2000 bends, to the Illinois River and its floodplain was more than 10 miles wide in some areas. The Marsh, often called the “Everglades of the North,” and its associated wet prairie, sedge meadows, swamps, floodplain forests and islands of oak savanna, sand dunes, and upland prairie were rich with waterfowl, fish, and plant life and the region was famous as a world-class hunting and fishing destination. However, by 1919, the river was lost to ditching and the associated marsh had been drained for agriculture. With less than 1% of the wetland remaining, the abundant waterfowl, fish, and plant life were significantly diminished. Tammy also grew up in a little farm town just four miles north of the Kankakee River.