Media Advisory: Hurricane Experts Available

Ecological Society of America scientists available for comment on the ecological impacts of hurricanes

September 15, 2020
For Immediate Release

Contact: Heidi Swanson, 202-833-8773 ext. 211, gro.asenull@idieh


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted an unusually active 2020 hurricane season, and local ecosystems are likely to experience a range of short- and long-term effects in response to these recurrent disturbances. Hurricane Sally is currently expected to bring major rainfall and flooding to the Gulf Coast, where Hurricane Laura has already caused billions of dollars of damage. Several members of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) are available to provide comment to the media and to talk to policymakers about the ecological impacts of hurricanes and other aspects of extreme disturbance events.

If you need assistance locating additional experts, contact Heidi Swanson at gro.asenull@idieh.


Alan Covich, Professor of Ecology
University of Georgia

Covich is a stream ecologist interested in the impacts of floods and hurricanes on riparian forests and food webs in tropical streams. 


Frank S. Gilliam, Research Professor
University of West Florida

Gilliam is a plant ecologist with broad interests in vegetation and nitrogen biogeochemistry of terrestrial ecosystems, especially forests of the eastern United States. He has studied the ecology of longleaf pine ecosystems of the southeastern US, with an interest in potential impacts of tropical cyclones (tropical storms/hurricanes) as they relate to climate change.


Walt Jaap, Marine Ecologist, retired, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, adjunct faculty
Lithophyte Research and University of South Florida College of Marine Science

Jaap worked for 35 years in coral reef research for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. His research focused on marine community structure and change. He also has a strong background in coral reef assessment and restoration. His current consulting work focuses on environmental troubleshooting: assessments, restoration and monitoring of marine community dynamics. Clients include international admiralty law firms, national and state governments, engineering firms and the Battelle Institute. Jaap works with the Coffeepot Bayou Watershed Alliance to clean up the bayou, eradicate invasive species, monitor water quality and offer insights on the biological resources of the bayou. 


Jame Schaefer, Professor of Systematic Theology and Ethics
Marquette University

Schaefer focuses on constructively relating theology, the natural sciences and technology with special attention to religious foundations for ecological ethics. Her work includes Christian imperatives for minimizing the human-induced causes of extreme weather, assuring preparedness to protect vulnerable ecological systems, aiding poor and vulnerable people and other species in the aftermath and assessing damage to and restoring ecological systems.


Fred Sklar, Director, Everglades Systems Assessment
South Florida Water Management District

Sklar is a coastal and wetland ecologist who has studied the influence of water management on vegetation dynamics and wildlife in the Greater Everglades. He has studied the impacts of sea level rise, hurricanes and hydrology on estuarine and coastal wetlands for some 35 years. His work emphasizes the effects of water management and climate change on ecosystem vulnerabilities, thresholds and environmental restoration.



The Ecological Society of America, founded in 1915, is the worlds largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 9,000-member Society publishes five journals and a membership bulletin, and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society’s Annual Meeting attracts 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in ecological science. Visit the ESA website at