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Biology Professor Jamie Kneitel is finding growing support for his study of vernal pools—while taking his research across the globe.
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Fulbright Fellow Uses Wetlands to Pool His Talents


Craig Koscho

Biology Professor Jamie Kneitel seems to have a knack when it comes to Fulbright Fellowships. While studying vernal pools in Israel as part of one of the prestigious fellowships, he received yet another to do the same in Morocco.

In September 2017 Kneitel and his family headed to Israel, where he joined Professor Leon Blaustein at the University of Haifa. 

Kneitel’s specialty is vernal pools – part-time wetlands that form in winter months and dry up in the summer. They are found in Mediterranean climates, places in locations as disparate as California, Chile, Australia, and, of course, countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, such as Israel.

Kneitel and his overseas partners set out to compare vernal pools’ similarities and differences to determine if there are general patterns of species diversity and ecosystem function among them.

But then the project expanded.

“While in Israel I received another Fulbright grant that took me to Morocco for a week to collaborate with a professor and students,” Kneitel says.

One of the goals of the overall project is to determine general principles that might influence the patterns in the pools’ ecosystems. Do they function similarly? Do they respond to disturbances in a similar way? Is there uniform interaction among species in the ecosystems?

“Because the habitat is so limited, there are many endangered, very unusual species that you don’t find anywhere else,” Kneitel says.

After collecting data from vernal pools in Morocco, it was back to Israel for Kneitel, to teach a five-day course at the University of Haifa. He returned to Sac State in April.

While the studies and research are ongoing, Kneitel says many of the projects are applied, focusing on subjects such as the effects of grazing. That, in turn, may lead to enhanced protections and policies for these ephemeral ponds.

All of which have implications for land use, protections for the ecosystem and particular species, and disease ecology, he says. 


Craig Koscho


Craig Koscho has served as a Sac State writer and public information officer for 11 years. Before that, he worked in television production and newspaper reporting and editing. Craig says, “I have the best job on campus: promoting the University’s arts programs.”