Discover Life | The Polistes Foundation | PHER | Researchers



Department of Biology
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742


Leslie Ries


8/2012 -- Present, Post-doctoral fellow, National Socio-environmental Synthesis Center

2/2008 -- Present, Assistant Research Scientist, University of Maryland

3/2005 -- 2/2008, NSF Post-doctoral Fellow in Biological Informatics

  • Advisor: Bill Fagan
  • Project: Trends in North American Butterfly Populations
6/2004 -- 3/3005, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Teaching and Learning Fellow
  • Advisor: Bill Fagan
  • Project: Infusing Mathematics in the Biology Curriculum


1998 -- 2003, Northern Arizona University. Ph.D. in Biology.

  • Dissertation title: "Placing edge responses into a predictive framework."
  • Advisor: Thomas D. Sisk
1995 -- 1998, Iowa State University. M.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, with a minor in Statistics.
  • Thesis title: "Butterflies in the highly fragmented prairies of central Iowa: How the landscape affects population isolation."
  • Advisor: Diane M. Debinski
1988 -- 1992, University of Maryland. B.S. in Zoology, field of concentration: Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior.

PUBLICATIONS (Google citations as per Apr 2012)

Soykan, C.U., L.A. Brand, L. Ries, J.C. Stromberg, C.Hass, D.A.Simmons, Jr., W.J.D. Patterson, J.L. Sabo. 2012. Multitaxonomic Diversity Patterns along a Desert Riparian-Upland Gradient. PLoS ONE 7(1):e28235 (New publication)

Wimp, G.M., S. Murphy, D. Lewis, and L Ries, L. 2011. Do edge effects cascade up or down a multi-trophic food web? Ecology Letters 14:863-870. (New publication)

Koenig, W.D., L. Ries, V.B.K. Olsen, and A.M. Liebhold. 2011 Avian predators are less abundant during periodical cicada emergences, but why? Ecology 92:784-790. (New publication)

Ries, L. and T. D. Sisk. 2010. What is an 'edge species'? The implications of sensitivity to habitat edges. Oikos 119:1636-1642. (5 citations)

Hannon, L. L. Ries & K. S. Williams. 2009. Invertebrates of the San Pedro River. Invited book chapter in (J. Stromberg & B. Tellman, eds.) Conservation of the San Pedro River, Island Press. (Not indexed)

Ries, L. & S. P. Mullen. 2008. Frequency-dependent Batesian mimicry maintains the position of a butterfly hybrid zone. Evolution 62:1798-1803. (9 citations)

Calabrese, J.M., L. Ries, S. F. Matter, D. M. Debinski, J. N. Auckland, J. Roland & W. F. Fagan. 2008. Reproductive asynchrony in natural butterfly populations and its consequences for female matelessness. Journal of Animal Ecology 77:746-756. (16 citation)

Ries, L. & T. D. Sisk. 2008. Butterfly responses to habitat edges are predicted by a simple model in a complex landscape. Oecologia 156:75-86. (13 citations)

Fletcher Jr., R. J., L. Ries, J. Battin and A. D. Chalfoun. 2007. The role of habitat area and edge in fragmented landscapes: definitively distinct or inevitably intertwined? Canadian Journal of Zoology 85: 1017-1030. (47 citations)

Ries, L., R. J. Fletcher, J. Battin, and T. D. Sisk. 2004. Ecological responses to habitat edges: mechanisms, models and variability explained. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 35:491-522 (366 citations)

Ries, L. and T. D. Sisk. 2004. A predictive model of edge effects. Ecology 85:2917-2926. (100 citations)

Ries, L.and W. F. Fagan. 2003. Habitat edges as a potential ecological trap for an insect predator. Ecological Entomology 28:567-572. (26 citations)

Ries, L., D. M. Debinski, and M. L. Wieland. 2001. Conservation value of roadside prairie restoration to butterfly communities. Conservation Biology 15: 401-411. (93 citations)

ies, L. and D. M. Debinski. 2001. Butterfly responses to habitat edges in the highly fragmented prairies of central Iowa. J. of Animal Ecology 70: 840-852. (120 citations)


Ries, L. In press. Connecting climate to butterfly count data. American Butterflies

Ries, L. 2010. The power of citizen-science. American Butterflies 18:42-43.

Ries, L.and L. Crozier. 2009. The Counts and Climate Change. American Butterflies 17:34-36

Ries, L. 2009. Are butterflies declining in North America? American Butterflies 17:38-40.

Ries, L. 2008. What can we learn from the 4th of July Counts? American Butterflies 16:34-36.

Ries, L.and S. Mullen. 2007. Red-spotted Admirals/Pipevine Swallowtail. American Butterflies 15:48-52.

Ries, L. 2006. Analyzing the NABA Butterfly Count Data. American Butterflies 14:40-42.


Wildlife Conservation Magazine. February 2002. "Conservation Hotline: Restoring Roadsides."

New York Times. 8 January 2002. "Making the best of what remains of shrinking habitat."

BBC Wildlife Magazine. May 2001. "Corridors of power."

Science NOW website. 4 April 2001. "Beckoning Butterflies."

New York Times. 21 September 1999. "In Iowa, restitching the torn fabric of the prairie."


2012. National Science Foundation. ABI Development: ABI Development: Access, visualization and statistical tools for the analysis of butterfly monitoring data. $1,134,740 (PI).

2009 National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis. Monarch butterflies as a model for understanding the spatiotemporal dynamics of migratory species and their response to environmental change. $79,150 (submitted as co-PI with Sonia Altizer and Karen Oberhauser)

2009 Commission for Environmental Cooperation. Workshop for Monarch Monitoring Projects. $25,000 (submitted as co-PI with Sonia Altizer and Karen Oberhauser)

2007 Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program. "Realizing the Potential of the Effective Area Model: Updating the Software and Toolkit to Maximize Usefulness on Military Bases" $312,337(submitted with T.D. Sisk as P.I.)

2007. National Biological Information Infrastructure. "Automating data entry and sharing for the North American Butterfly Association's 4th of July butterfly monitoring program." $25,000 (submitted with J. Glassberg)

2005 National Science Foundation "Changes in North American Butterfly Distributions in Response to Climate and Land-use Change" $120,000

2001 Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program. "Application of the Effective Area Model to Examine the Impacts of Training Activities on Animal Populations." $98,000 (submitted with T.D. Sisk as P.I.)

1997 US Highway Administration. "Determining the Conservation Value of Roadside Vegetation." $12,500 (submitted with Diane M. Debinski as P.I.)


Harvard Forest Experimental Station. April 2011. Petersham, MA. Invited Seminar. Using mechanistic models to understand the impact of climate on current range limits.

National Zoo Conservation Center, January 2011. Washington DC. Invited Seminar. Using mechanistic models to understand current and future range limits.

Ecological Society of America, August 2010. Pittsburgh, PA. Continental patterns of monarch butterflies in North America (with Karen Oberhauser and Doug Taron)

George Washington University. November 2009. Invited Seminar. Edge effects in complex landscapes.

Ecological Society of America. August 2009. Albuquerque, NM. Emergent properties of fragmentation when edge effects are extrapolated over complex landscapes. (with Jonathan Greenberg and Thomas Sisk)

National Military Fish and Wildlife Association. March 2009. Washington, DC. Incorporating landscape edges and context into management on military bases. (with Thomas Sisk)

Georgetown University. November 2007. Invited Seminar. Continental patterns in North American butterfly populations.

Ecological Society of America. August 2007. San Jose, CA. Spoken Paper. The biogeography of a mimicry complex is revealed by a citizen science monitoring program. (with Sean Mullen)

Military Readiness Conference. July 2007. Orlando, FL. Invited Spoken Paper. Incorporating landscape edges and context into management for threatened and endangered species. (with Thomas Sisk)

Ecological Society of America. August 2005. Montreal, CAN. Spoken Paper.

Ecological Society of America. August 2004. Portland, OR. Spoken Paper.

University of Maryland. Sept. 2004. Invited Seminar. Placing edge effects into a predictive framework.

North Carolina State University. Oct 2005. Invited Seminar. Placing edge effects into a predictive framework

Society of Conservation Biology. July 2003. Duluth, MN. Spoken Paper.

Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program. December 2002. Washington, D.C. Invited symposium paper. Co-author, presented by Thomas D. Sisk. Integrating species-level biology and ecosystem management: the role of landscape-scale spatial models.

Ecological Society of America. August 2002. Tucson, AZ. Poster. Placing edge responses into a predictive framework. (with Thomas Sisk)

American Fisheries Society. August 2001. Pheonix, AZ. Invited Spoken Paper. Butterfly responses to landscape-level changes along the San Pedro River.

Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program. November 2001. Washington, D.C. Poster. Evaluating a New Spatial Model of Biodiversity Responses to Management Actions.

Society of Conservation Biology. June 2000. Missoula, MT. Spoken Paper. Landscape changes along desert riparian systems: Implications for butterflies and conservation.

Northern Arizona University. Friday Integrative Biology Seminar. April 1999. Butterflies in the highly fragmented prairies of central Iowa: How the landscape affects population isolation.

Ecological Society of America. August 1998. Poster. Conservation value of roadside restoration.

Society of Conservation Biology. June 1999. 3rd place, best spoken paper. The conservation value of roadside prairie restoration to butterfly populations.

Iowa State University. Animal Ecology Seminar Series. April 1998. M.S. Exit Seminar. Butterflies in the highly fragmented prairies of central Iowa: How the landscape affects population isolation.

International Association of Landscape Ecologists. March 1998. Emigration in fragmented landscapes: Butterfly behavior at prairie edges.


Fall Semester 2010, Georgetown University.

  • Ecological Analysis BIOL 268.
Summer Session 2010, University of Maryland.
  • Conservation Biology BSCI363. This course gave a broad overview of the science of conservation biology including an overview of biodiversity patterns, major threats to biodiversity, and approaches to conservation. This course had a focus on conservation in the media with the goal of learning about the most current conservation challenges and being able to evaluate the stories by comparing claims in the media to the supporting, published science. Students were required to write a synthetic paper on a topic of conservation of their choosing, with the goal of making a novel contribution to the class. Students also presented their findings to the class.
Fall Semester 2008 and 2009, Georgetown University.
  • Guest lecturer, Ecological Analysis. I developed and taught a section on Ecological Informatics. This included giving an overview of the field, introducing students to on-line database resources and GIS. I also developed an exercise for them to familiarize themselves with online content. Students were required to complete a group project where they developed questions, then downloaded and analyzed data, then produced a report.
Spring Semester 2006 and 2007, University of Maryland.
  • Co-instructor, Biology 103 (overview of biology for non-majors). I taught the ecology and evolution portion of this large lecture course (approx. 200 students). My co-instructor taught the sections on genetics, biochemistry and organ systems. My lecture topics covered basics in evolutionary and ecological theory, as well as an overview of bacteria, protists, fungi, plants and animal kingdoms. I designed my own lectures (based on the course text book) and brought in relevant up-to-date information from recent discoveries.
Spring Semester 2002, Northern Arizona University.
  • Co-instructor, Conservation Biology. I co-taught the lecture portion of a co-listed upper-division undergraduate/graduate course in conservation biology. I delivered lectures and led discussions on extinction, fragmentation, edge effects, and modeling. I also led four all-day field trips focused on conservation in action, including a condor release and a review of Grand Canyon river management.
Fall Semester 1997, Iowa State University.
  • Teaching Assistant, Ecology. I taught two sections of the laboratory portion of the course. Topics included population growth, competition, life tables, spatial analysis, and community diversity analysis.
Fall and Spring Semester 1996-1997, Iowa State University.
  • Teaching Assistant, Biology 201. This is the first semester of the basic biology course for freshmen. I taught two sections of the laboratory portion of the course. Topics included cell types, mitosis and meiosis, and an overview of major plant and animal groups.


I have been heavily involved in mentoring students. In addition to working closely with graduate students in Bill Fagan's lab, I have been involved in several mentoring programs for minority, women and disadvantaged students. I'm currently part of the ACE mentoring program at the University of Maryland where I am working with a single student throughout her entire four-year program. This student is from a disadvantaged background and is the first in her family to go to college. I also worked with the Women in Sciences and Engineering program at Iowa State mentoring five students, including high school, undergraduate and minority women, coauthoring a paper with one of my mentees.


Peer reviews for the following publications and funding organizations

Journal of Animal Ecology
National Science Foundation

2009 Co-founder, College of Chemical and Life Sciences Post-doctoral Assicuation
University of Maryland

1999-2000 Co-founder, co-president, Graduate Student Association
Northern Arizona University

1997-1998 co-president, Graduate Student Association
Iowa State University


Julia Aukland*
James Battin*
Isabelle-Anne Bisson, Princeton University
Arriana Brand*
Luke Butler, Tufts University
Justin M. Calabrese, Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research
Anna D. Chalfoun, Montana State University
Diane M. Debinski, Iowa State University
William F. Fagan, University of Maryland
Robert J. Fletcher, University of Florida
Laura Hannon, University of Missouri
Christine Haas*
Timothy J. Hayden, US-CERL
Walter D. Koenig, Cornell University
Andrew M. Liebhold, USDA Forest Service
Steven F. Matter, University of Cincinatti
Sean P. Mullen, Lehigh University
Beth K. Olsen, University of Maryland
William J. D. Patterson, Arizona State University
Jens Roland, University of Alberta
L. Michael Romero, Tufts University
John L. Sabo, Arizona State University
David A. Simmons, Jr., Arizona State University
Thomas D. Sisk, Northern Arizona University
Candan U. Soykan, San Diego State University
Juliet C. Stromberg, Arizona State University
Kathy S. Williams, San Diego State
Michelle L. Wieland*
*Currently unaffiliated or unknown affiliation

Updated: 20 April, 2012

Discover Life | The Polistes Foundation | PHER | Researchers | Top