To update ecological theory and improve wildlife monitoring, management, and conservation using spatio-temporal modeling approaches that analyze data across scales.
Spatio-temporal scaling in ecology
Despite decades of research into wildlife-environment relationships and the dynamics of species’ interactions, we still lack theory and reliable modeling frameworks regarding the spatio-temporal scaling and generalizability of these fundamental ecological processes. To address this challenge, we seek to understand: i) the spatial scales at which environmental variables affect species’ distributions, space use, and population size; ii) the degree to which dynamic temporal modeling approaches (i.e., those that incorporate short- and long-term variation) outperform static (i.e. time-invariant) methodologies, and iii) how models of species interactions (e.g., predator-prey relationships) can be functionally incorporated into wildlife management.
Population monitoring and modeling
Population modeling is fundamental to effective management and conservation and sets the stage for deeper inquiries into inter- and intraspecific interactions and ecological dynamics. We partner with state and federal agencies to measure, model, and monitor wildlife populations of several species, including coyotes, red and gray fox, white-tailed deer, and New England cottontails. In these efforts, we combine data collected from the public, non-invasive methods (e.g., camera traps), and other sources to create a rich and robust picture of populations across space and time.
Human-related impacts on wildlife
Ecological inquiry has historically focused on “natural” systems, such as protected areas or nature preserves. In an increasingly human-modified world, the foundations of ecological understanding must be updated to understand wildlife responses to anthropogenic influences across scales. We seek to understand how humans shape wildlife ecology via landscape development and activity (e.g., hiking), with a particular emphasis on urban and exurban ecosystems.
Beyond empirical studies, our lab seeks to push forward the field of ecology through literature synthesis, critical review, and framework development. This work has included new frameworks for the landscape of fear (below image, left side) and the Eltonian niche of humans (below image, right side). By changing the way ecologists think and providing clarifying concepts to the field, we hope that these contributions will accelerate and improve the data we collect and the insights we gain from research efforts.