Vera Pfeiffer


Environment and Resources PhD student
Urban Ecosystem Services

I am a PhD student in the Environment and Resources PhD program in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. My research is focused on how land use affects habitat structure important to various groups of bees and how landscape structure affects the distribution of pollinators across the landscape. In one study, I am assessing how landscape factors contribute to urban bee assemblages in Madison. A second study focuses in on how various types of urban and ex-urban land use areas provide foraging resources to bumble bees through a systematic survey of neighborhoods across Madison.

In Central Wisconsin, an intensive cranberry production region is dominated by marshes, which bloom in late June and early July. A third project assess how bumble bee foraging changes across the mass bloom, by assessing the number (and identity) of bumble bee colonies foraging at 14 marshes nested in either forested habitat or intensive agricultural habitat. This project utilizes landscape genetics to assign colony membership to individual foraging bees- before, during, and after the cranberry bloom period.

I began studying pollination during my MS at Oregon State University. There, I worked on a project focused on plant-pollinator networks in Cascades mountain meadow systems within and near the H. J. Andrews LTER forest. This system provided a simplified meadow and forest system where habitat could be more easily defined than in a more complex, urban landscape.

I am currently a Teaching Assistant for the Introductory Ecology course taught in the Nelson Institute at the University of Wisconsin- Madison, as well as a Graduate Student Mentor for BioHouse, and a Student Representative for the Environment & Resources PhD program in the Nelson Institute. In the past, I’ve also been a Teaching Assistant for courses including Introductory Biology Lab, Sustainability for the Common Good, Biogeography, and Computer-Assisted Cartography. Before graduate school, I worked for a decentralized urban farm in San Francisco, comprised by 200+ small backyard farms, operating as neighborhood CSAs. In my free time I enjoy gardening, cooking, hiking, cross-country skiing, travelling, and riding my bike.

Past degrees M.S. Geography, GIS certificate at Oregon State University, 2012

B.A. Biology and International Relations (Environment and Development) at Boston University, 2008

Degree in Progress PhD in Environment & Resources, UW-Madison



Schlautman, B., V. Pfeiffer, J. Zalapa, and J. Brunet. 2014. The use of sequence-based SSR mining for the development of a vast collection of microsatellites in Aquilegia formosa.. American Journal of Plant Sciences, 5, **-**. htt;://****.2014.***** PDF

Pfeiffer, Vera. 2016. The Urban Buzz: Pollinator Protection in Madison, Wisconsin. Edge Effects.