My research focus is comprised of intertwined threads of science, each of which is related to ecology and conservation. My research ranges from applied to basic, all with the goal of better understanding the interactions between the physical and biological components of ecosystems. I do a great deal of research with undergraduates. I have worked hard developing an undergraduate research model that allows undergraduates to participate in a truly enriching experience as well as performing quality science that allow student to do and own part of their education. They start as freshman or first semester sophomores that learn from upper classmen. By the time these underclassman are upper classman they are trained and working on their own project with help from an underclassmen of their own to train. My multidisciplinary research weaves together aspects of biology and conservation to provide new and unique insights into ecosystem form and function. This works is constantly evolving and expanding into new, relevant, innovative, and fundable areas. My ecological research spans from aquatics to terrestrial work. My conservation work spans from population movement to habitat improvement, even into local food production. Being on the cutting edge with the risks and benefits associated with cutting edge research is precisely where I intend to remain, always looking at things in a new way combining methods from traditionally isolated science disciplines to answer important environmental questions.
Below are brief summaries of the research I am most interested in pursuing.
Ecology provides the fundamental understanding for any natural system and the interaction inherent in the system.
Assessment of habitat
Through a variety of techniques
, as well as new and innovative analytical methods, I seek to understand and define the large-scale processes that create and modify habitats for survival and the time animals spend in each habitat. By identifying those habitats (source) that contribute a higher proportion of reproducing adults to the population we can identify habitats types that are important to protect and conserve. For instance, my continuing work with goshawks examines forest management and how that affects reproductive potential to future populations or the possible effects of climate change on their habitats.
Community structure and diversity
Using multi-disciplinary tools, I endeavor to identify habitat diversity and how it affects community structure. If we can identify how habitat changes affect local populations we are one step closer to understanding how organisms will react to habitat changes driven by humans, such as climate change. By studying communities in this way I am able to see interactions that lead to a better understand of source or sink habitat. To better understand our environment, the interaction on the community level need to be understood and how they change with habitat change. With large scale changes from anthropogenic impacts such as climate change we need to identify changes in our communities which will help us identify long term effects.
This work is assessing the impacts of habitat loss and fragmentation on wildlife movements and habitat selection. Through the use of remotely sensed imagery and Global Positioning System (GPS) technologies we are starting to understand the impact of human activities and land use changes on animal movements and habitat selection. This is an emerging area of ecology, as the use of remotely sensed imagery and GPS technologies allow for fine scale data to be collected on both habitat features and animal space use. This has allowed for increased understanding of the impacts of land use change and other human activities on a variety of wildlife behaviors, movements, and habitat selection. It is also a useful tool for understanding human-wildlife conflict, as the space use and requirements of each can be accurately measured and projected across much larger areas than was previously possible.
Conservation and Sustainability
Conservation is ecology in practice combined with sociology, politics, and economics. A good conservationist needs to be able to walk this tightrope and I know how to navigate these interactions. My conservation and sustainability work is in three main areas: habitat improvement, best practices in development, and food production.
Work in this area can be quite simple to very complex. Too many people do not realize how important a strip of wildflowers can be to animals in their area. I presented a TEDX presentation about connecting fragmented habitat and I am working on papers about the overall benefits and needs of connecting our fragmented habitats. Much of my ecological research’s end product is about habitat improvement and management recommendations. Habitat improvement then becomes the next step and ultimately the finished product.
Cost benefit analysis
C/B analysis is very useful in conservation work and can be used to determine Best Practices for sustainability in our ecosystems. These practices range from topics on agriculture to economic development. We can use cost benefit analysis to look at current buildings, practices or development to identify the best changes to make for a more sustainable future. This is very useful for any policy or development decisions.
Agriculture is very impactful to our environment and we often do not use the best practices for sustainability. I am currently studying and using aquaponics as a possible tool to develop a greenhouse ecosystem that are useful for growing produce year-round in northern climates. Eating locally is a very important tool for sustainable practices. There are many agricultural and food best practices that can be researched to produce a more sustainable environment for our future.
I am a collaborator at the core of my research. I enjoy collaborative research and seek out like minded researchers. My areas of research and interest combine well with other researchers and I enjoy the opportunities to expand my knowledge and impact of my research by working with other scientist.