Center for Conservation and Biodiversity

Center for Conservation & Biodiversity Leadership Profiles


David L. Wagner

Dave Wagner is an Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut. He has a BS from Colorado State University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. His taxonomic expertise is with primitive moths, and in particular, Hepialidae (ghost moths) and microlepidopteran families of leafminers. Recently the immature stages (caterpillars) of Lepidoptera, matters of invertebrate conservation, and climate change have drawn much of his attentions. Early successional habitats and their associated floras and faunas have been another long time focus of his studies.

He travels to the western Amazon yearly where he is working on a digital field guide to the dragonflies and damselflies of Ecuador. Wagner recently published two books, one on the Owlet Caterpillars of Eastern North America (Princeton Univ. Press) and a second on the rare and endangered moths of eastern North America (USDA Forest Service). He has multi-year funding to author a book on the caterpillars of Western North America.

Wagner is well-known for his involvement in invertebrate conservation. He chairs Connecticut's Advisory Committee on Endangered Invertebrates and is commonly called upon by State and Federal agencies for his advice on the Northeast's imperiled insect biota. He also Chairs the Lepidopterists’ Society Conservation Committee. Currently, he is involved in two projects focused on matters of insect conservation in the state of Connecticut: one on the Endangered Northern Metalmark butterfly and a pine barren restoration project below Mansfield Hollow Dam in Windham, Connecticut.

Wagner serves on boards for the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History and Wedge Entomological Foundation.


John A. Silander Jr.

John Silander is Research Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut. He has a Bachelors degree from Pomona College, a Masters degree from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. from Duke University. His research interests are in plant ecology (especially genetical, population, community and landscape aspects), biodiversity, biogeography and conservation biology.

During the past couple of decades Silander has conducted research on: the dynamics and structure of natural forests in northeastern North America, the conservation and loss of rainforests in Madagascar, the integrated and sustainable conservation of the Cape Horn region of South America, the ecology and biogeography of invasive plant species in New England, and the biogeography and biodiversity of plants (especially proteas) in the Cape Floristic Region of South Africa. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Agriculture, the MacArthur Foundation, the National Geographic Society, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Park Service, the US Geological Survey, and other agencies. He has published over 100 scientific papers.

Silander's current research takes him to South Africa every year where, in collaboration with ecologists, statisticians, and climate modelers at Duke University, the University of Cape Town and the South African National Biodiversity Institute, he is studying the response of protea species to climate change. He is also studying plant trait variation in plant species across the Cape Floristic Region of South Africa as part of an NSF Dimensions of Biodiversity grant. The goals are to understand biodiversity patterns and processes from the level of the gene to the ecosystem. He is also the Principal Investigator of the IPANE (Invasive Plant Atlas of New England) project, which focuses on mapping and forecasting the potential distribution of invasive plant species in New England. The project incorporates early detection of invasive species as well as education and outreach, and the training of a network of New England citizen-scientist volunteers. Collaborators include scientists from UConn and other New England states. Silander also studies comparative plant phenological patterns and processes in the northeastern US and East Asia as part of a funded NSF project.

Silander served in the past as Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Connecticut Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, and is currently Vice-Chair of the Town of Mansfield Conservation Commission. He was a Fulbright Fellow in Australia, received the Mercer Award from the Ecological Society of America, and the Faculty Excellence Award in Research from the University of Connecticut Alumni Board of Directors.