Adena R. Rissman

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Assistant Professor, Forest and Wildlife Ecology

111 Russell Labs
1630 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706

Phone: 608-263-4356


Dr. Adena Rissman joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in January 2009. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. She then completed a postdoctoral position at the University of California at Berkeley. Before graduate school, Adena worked as a forest planner for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. She received her B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin.

Research Interests

My research investigates the management, conservation, and sustainable use of forest and range ecosystems. This research addresses the social and ecological drivers and outcomes of conservation strategies at the landscape scale. Broadly, I examine how dynamic social drivers influence land management, conservation, and land use change; and how ecological systems shape conservation policies and strategies. Research questions I explore include: How can we measure the outcomes of conservation strategies at the landscape scale, using spatial analysis? How have institutions such as land trusts and government agencies evolved to address emerging conservation issues on public and private lands? How is environmental decision making shaped by ecological science?

My previous projects have explored how conservation easements are providing a new status for land trusts and government agencies in governing and collaborating with private landowners on natural resources management, including ranching. Conservation easements, typically voluntary and permanent land use agreements between a landowner and nonprofit organization or government agency, provide a clear lens into the approaches of various institutions to adaptive ecosystem management and monitoring. A combination of methods, including spatial analysis, document analysis, and interviews, has contributed to understanding the drivers of land use change, new models of governance over private lands, and institutional approaches to adaptive management and monitoring. My work on conservation easements at multiple scales--from individual properties to geographic regions and national organizations--has provided a rich perspective on strengths and needed improvements to this increasingly popular tool for protecting private land.


Rissman, Adena R. and Nathan Sayre. Landowner-easement holder relationships: collaboration, enforcement, and learning. In preparation for Society and Natural Resources.

Morris, Amy and Adena R. Rissman. Public access to information on private land conservation. In preparation for an environmental law review.

Rissman, Adena R. Perpetual conservation agreements for adaptive management: innovation or paradox? Submitted to Rangeland Ecology and Management.

Byrd, Kristin B., Adena R. Rissman, and Adina M. Merenlender. Evaluating the capacity of conservation easements to safeguard ecosystem function in an oak woodland landscape under scenarios of future development. Submitted to Landscape and Urban Planning.

Rissman, Adena R. and Adina M. Merenlender. 2008. The conservation contributions of conservation easements: analysis of the San Francisco Bay Area protected lands spatial database. Ecology and Society 13 (1):40. [online] URL:

Rissman, Adena R., Tosha Comendant, Lynn Lozier, Peter Kareiva, Joseph M. Kiesecker, M. Rebecca Shaw, and Adina M. Merenlender. 2007. Conservation easements: private use and biodiversity protection. Conservation Biology 21(3):709-718.

Kiesecker, Joseph M., Gary Amaon, Tosha Comendant, Terra Grandmason, Elizabeth Gray, Christine Hall, Richard Hilsenbeck, Peter Kareiva, Lynn Lozier, Patrick Naehu, Adena R. Rissman, M. Rebecca Shaw, and Mark Zankel. 2007. Conservation easements in context: a quantitative analysis of their use by The Nature Conservancy. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 3(5):125-130.

Rissman, Adena R., Richard Reiner, Adina M. Merenlender. 2007. Monitoring natural resources on rangeland conservation easements. Rangelands: 29(3):21-26.

Rissman, Adena R., Sarah E. Reed, Chuck Hughes, and Richard Reiner. 2006. Monitoring understory composition of blue oak woodlands on conservation easements. Proceedings of the Sixth Symposium on Oak Woodlands, California's Oaks: Today's Challenges, Tomorrow's Opportunities, October 9-12, 2006, Rohnert Park, CA. USDA Forest Service General Technical Report.

Curriculum vitae (MS Word)

Tags - Assistant Professor, Forest and Wildlife Ecology, Russell Labs, management, conservation, sustainability, land use, forests, range, ecology