Emily G. Schilling

Associate Professor

CB 37

Teaching interests and philosophy

My joint appointment in Biology and Environmental Studies offers me the opportunity to teach classes in my two core interest areas: ecology and environmental science. I teach courses in introductory biology, introductory ecology, freshwater ecology, environmental science, conservation biology, and water resources management.

My goal as a teacher is to provide accurate information in a way that resonates across learning styles and excites students. The qualities that I embrace to be an effective teacher include openness to diversity, strong credibility, good communication and listening skills, and unbounded curiosity. I value the combination of teaching in a formal classroom setting and interacting with students in less-structured environments. Combining formal and informal learning environments allows delivery of scientific concepts and theories that can be observed in situ through lab work, field trips and hands-on exercises. Additionally, learning extends beyond coursework for students involved in on-going research projects in my lab. Students working with me in the field and laboratory gain valuable “hands-on” experience in scientific research.

Another of my goals is to encourage students to become stewards of the environment. I feel that having a connection with nature, and an understanding of its complexities, is a prerequisite for becoming an environmental steward. By providing “eye-opening” hands-on learning experiences, I hope to enhance students’ appreciation for the natural world and to encourage their sense of responsibility for taking care of it.

Research interests

nature scene panoramaFreshwater ecosystems are among the most threatened on Earth. My research addresses a pressing need to understand the natural functioning of these systems and their associated biological communities, so that we can determine how they are responding to human induced stressors. The overarching goal of my research is to address gaps in our understanding of how freshwater ecosystems function in natural and human-altered landscapes and to generate data that informs conservation and management strategies for protecting freshwater biodiversity. My work is specifically shaped around ecological questions that have conservation applications in freshwater lakes, ponds, and wetlands. I focus primarily on macroinvertebrates inhabiting naturally fish-free habitats. I am particularly interested in dragonflies, which are top predators in these unique freshwater ecosystems. I study biogeographic factors that influence dragonfly species distributions, their migratory behaviors and pathways, and the impacts of climate change on their phenology and geographic distributions. I conduct field work with students in the St. Croix River Valley and the environs of Bemidji and Itasca State Park in northwestern Minnesota, where I spend summers living and working at University of Minnesota’s Itasca Biological Station.

Educational background

  • Ph.D. University of Maine – 2008
  • M.S. University of Maine – 2002
  • B.A. Colgate University – 1997


Larson, D.M., D. DeJong, M.J. Anteau, M.J. Fitzpatrick, B. Keith, E.G. Schilling, and B. Thoele. 2022. High abundance of a single taxon (amphipods) predicts aquatic macrophyte biodiversity in prairie wetlands. Biodiversity and Conservation. DOI: 10.1007/s10531-022-02379-9

Schilling, E.G., K.J. Kardynal, H. Kundel, Z. Crews-Erjavec, J.M. Zobitz, and K.A. Hobson. 2021. Phenological and isotopic evidence for migration as a life history strategy in Aeshna canadensis (family: Aeshnidae) dragonflies. Ecological Entomology. 46:209-219. DOI: 10.1111/een.12953

Hornbach, D.J., E.G. Schilling, H. Kundel. 2020. Ecosystem metabolism in small ponds: the effects of floating-leaved macrophytes. Water – special issue on Biodiversity and Functionality in Freshwater and Transitional Ecosystems. 12:1458.

Schilling, E.G., Lawrenz, R. and H. Kundel. 2019. An assessment of the geographic distribution and status of a rare dragonfly, Rhionaeschna mutata, at the northwestern edge of its range. Northeastern Naturalist. 26(3):523–536. DOI: 10.3390/w12051458

Schilling, E.G., Lawrenz, R. and H. Kundel. 2019. A review of the reproductive habitat preferences and conservation challenges of a rare, transient, and ecologically restricted darner dragonfly: Rhionaeschna mutata. International Journal of Odonatology. 22: 1-9.

Anthony, J. Baccam, J., Bier, I. Gregg, E., Halverson, L., Mulcahy, R., Okanla, E., Osman, S.A., Pancoast, A.R., Schultz, K.C., Sushko, A., Vorarath, J., Vue, Y., Wagner, A., Schilling, E.G. and Zobitz, J.M. 2018. Modeling mayfly nymph length distribution and population dynamics across a gradient of stream temperatures and stream types. SporaA Journal of Biomathematics. 4: 1-14.

Petrin, Z., E.G. Schilling, C.S. Loftin, F. Johansson. 2010. Predators shape distribution and promote diversification of morphological defenses in Leucorrhinia, Odonata. Evolutionary Ecology. 24:1003-1016.

Schilling, E.G., C.S. Loftin, and A.D. Huryn. 2009. Effects of introduced fish on macroinvertebrate communities in historically fishless headwater and kettle lakes. Biological Conservation. 142:3030-3038.

Schilling, E.G., C.S. Loftin, and A.D. Huryn. 2008. Effects of fish introductions on the geographic distribution and native invertebrate fauna of naturally fishless lakes in Maine. A technical summary submitted to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, September 23, 2008. 23pp.

Schilling, E.G., C.S. Loftin, and A.D. Huryn. 2008. Macroinvertebrates as indicators of fish absence in naturally fishless lakes. Freshwater Biology. 54: 181-202.

Schilling, E.G., K.E. DeGoosh, C.S. Loftin, A.D. Huryn, and K.E. Webster. 2008. Predicting the locations of naturally fishless lakes. Freshwater Biology. 53:1021-1035.

Schilling E.G., D.B. Halliwell, A.M. Gullo, and J.K. Markowsky. 2006. First records of Umbra limi (central mudminnow) in Maine. Northeastern Naturalist. 13:287-290.

Fuller, R.F., C. Ribble, A. Kelly, and E. Gaenzle. 1998. Impact of stream grazers on periphyton communities: A laboratory and field manipulation. Journal of Freshwater Ecology. 13:105-114.