Current Research and Interests:
The "Modern Protected Area"
In a continuously developing world, most plants and animals are threatened primarily by habitat loss. To combat this loss of habitat, conservationists turn to protected areas. These natural areas are set aside, typically with the goal of protecting biodiversity. However, these protected areas do not exist in a vacuum. Although the protected area may be set aside, development continues around it. The goal of my research is to investigate how the surrounding landscape impacts the species inside a protected area. I am especially interested in seeing how smaller protected areas function throughout different landscapes and over time.
And then there was light!
We know that light pollution impacts species from birds to insects but quantifying this impact can be difficult. I am currently investigating how arthropod communities that have never been exposed to light pollution react when a novel source of light is installed. This study will give insight into how communities respond with respect to novel light sources as well how long it takes for a community to adjust to light pollution.
Above: A blue jay is released and after being banded with a USGS band to re-identify it in the future. The banding was part of a 40 year effort that investigated song bird community change in a protected forest.
Below: Results from my first chapter showing that although some species benefit from being in a protected area (top left corner), many species are declining inside the protected area, even if the population is regionally increasing (bottom right corner). Each dot represents a species with error bars representing population estimates based of breeding bird survey growth trends. Figure created by myself as part of a submission for Biodiversity and Conservation
Above: A series of lights is set up inside a protected forest along a deer exclosure to investigate the impact of artificial light on arthropod communities.
Below: Results from my light pollution study show a significant shift in arthropod community when exposed to light. This study investigated the community before and after the light was introduced. Seen below, the community differs greatly on day 6-10 when the light was on compared to day 1-5 (pre light) and 11-15 (post light). Results of this work are in prep and are expected to be submitted shortly
Want to hear a little more about my work? Listen to a speed talk I gave at SCCS!
The Ecology of Bird Loss Project
While my current work has me in the city, it was not always this way. Growing up I thought I was going to be the next Steve Irwin and so I spent my undergraduate career as a tropical ecologist. At Rice University I worked in Haldre Rogers' lab (now at Iowa) looking at the effects of the brown tree snake in Guam. Specifically, I studied how spiders respond to the trophic changes cause by the brown tree snake. After its introduction, the tree snake caused the local extinction of birds on Guam. This in turn released spiders from person resulting in an increase in abundance and survival for the spiders.