About our work

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Current research in the lab spans the disciplines of ecology, evolution, behavior and conservation biology, and diverse taxa including birds, small mammals, and herpetofauna.

Our main focus is understanding the processes and factors that influence wildlife-habitat relationships.  We are particularly interested in understanding why organisms select particular habitats and under what contexts such choices are adaptive. Our philosophy is that effective conservation and management strategies require careful study about what constitutes actual habitat quality for species of interest at relevant spatial scales.

Most graduate research projects in the lab are developed in close cooperation with the Wyoming Game & Fish Department and/or other agencies in order to address critical research needs of non-game wildlife species within the state. All graduate student projects in my lab therefore have both applied and conceptual components that are well-suited for students interested in learning to conduct rigorous scientific research that simultaneously addresses real-world wildlife conservation issues. Examples of ecological issues of focus in the lab include energy development, the mountain pine beetle epidemic, and climate change.

Projects

  • In recent decades, many amphibian populations have declined worldwide. Human-induced habitat disturbance and alteration have been cited as a dominate causes, which can interact with other stressors such as climate change and disease. In the majority of cases, however, mechanisms underlying declines are considered enigmatic; therefore, developing a better understanding of the individual and interactive factors threating amphibians will be critical to prevent further population declines and species extinctions. More

  • Spatially isolated populations of species, especially those with limited mobility, are at an increased risk of extirpation. Though Columbia spotted frogs (Rana luteiventris) have a widespread range throughout western North America… More

  • A species that forages on snowfields and tundra during the breeding season, the Black Rosy-Finch is an alpine breeding obligate that uses cracks in cliff faces for nesting sites. More

  • The Island-Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma insularis, has been the focus of demographic research since 2008. Our work is motivated by threats to the species viability posed by its limited range and population size, and seeks to understand the factors that determine the distribution and abundance of A. insularis on Santa Cruz Island. More

  • This project investigates the effects of habitat alteration from energy development on songbird nest success. We aim to identify the relationship between nest predation rates and small mammal abundance, and examine possible mechanisms driving the increased abundance of rodent nest predators. More

VIEW COMPLETED PROJECTS