Dale came to Northwestern in 2010 after four years of teaching courses in ecology, conservation and field natural history for the Graduate Program of the Teton Science Schools in Grand Teton National Park. Dale loves introducing students to field biology and community ecology and he is intrigued by what organismal ecology can teach us about our creator. He teaches biology, ecology, conservation biology, plant biology, field ornithology, and environmental science. Dale has also taught honors biology courses that included spring break trips to Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, and Costa Rica.
Dale works with Northwestern students to study control of the invasive emerald ash borer and the reuse of tree cavities and nest boxes by secondary cavities users on the Northwestern campus. Dale also started Disciple Science, a non-profit media production company producing short videos, a podcast and a blog exploring the intersection of science and Christian faith.
He is married and has two daughters and two sons. Personal interests include cycling, soccer, Nordic skiing, bird watching, and cooking.
Courses I Teach:
Principals of Biology III -- Freshman survey course introducing students to major concepts of the life sciences with an emphasis in botany, theories of origins, and ecology. Topics include basic ecological principles such as the role of natural and sexual selection, discussion on the different theories on the origins of species in the context of a Christian worldview, and an introduction of plant structure and function, human impact on biodiversity, and Christian environmental stewardship.
Conservation Biology -- An advanced survey of the distribution and management of natural resources with special emphasis on developing critical thinking skills and new solutions to problems of resource scarcity. Topics include: wildlife and wild-lands, energy, water, air, and food. Economics, demographics, religious and political issues are considered as they affect resources.
Plant Biology – This class covers plant structure, function, growth, development, and taxonomy. Topics include reproduction and development of seed and non-seed plants, genetics and propagation, levels of organization, form and function of systems, and a survey of major taxa. We will apply those understandings to plant ecology and distribution.
Field Ornithology -- This course examines the biology, ecology, diversity, behavior, and field identification of birds. Special attention is paid to local species of the upper Midwest.
Environmental Science -- A course for non-majors focusing on the interrelationships between organisms and their environment and how humans manage those communities. Topics include biodiversity, air and water pollution, waste disposal, population growth, resource management, public policy, ethics and Christian stewardship of God's creation.
The University of Northwestern campus is the perfect location to study the influence of urbanization on biodiversity. My students and I study the flora and fauna of our campus from numerous perspectives.
My ongoing project examines woodpecker cavities and the community of secondary cavity users (animals that use cavities but cannot excavate their own). We utilize the managed parklands next to beautiful Lake Johanna as well as the minimally managed forest along Little Lake Johanna.
I’ve also studied woodpeckers as a biological control for the invasive emerald ash borer.
Ph.D., Atmosphere, Environment and Water Resources, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
M.S., University of South Dakota
B.S., Idaho State University
Outside of work
In my personal time, I stay active year-round by cycling and Nordic skiing. I also love to go bird watching, cook, work in the yard, and spend time with my wonderful wife and daughter.
Gentry, D. J., and K. T. Vierling. 2008. Reuse of woodpecker cavities in the breeding and non-breeding seasons in old burn habitats in the Black Hills, South Dakota. American Midland Naturalist 160:413-429.
Vierling, K. T., and D. J. Gentry. 2009. Red-headed Woodpecker density and productivity in relation to time since fire in burned pine forests. Fire Ecology 4:15-25.
Vierling, K. T., D. J. Gentry, and A. Haines. 2009. Nest niche partitioning of Lewis's and Red-headed Woodpeckers in burned pine forests. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 121:89-96.
Gentry, D. J., and K. T. Vierling. 2007. Old burns as source habitats for Lewis's Woodpeckers breeding in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The Condor 109:122-131.
Gentry, D. J., D. L. Swanson, and J. D. Carlisle. 2006. Species richness and nesting success of songbirds in natural river corridors and anthropogenic woodlands in southeastern South Dakota. The Condor 108:140-153.