Conservation and Research
I work to understand and conserve areas of unique biodiversity through a combination of research, education, and close partnerships with natural resource managers. I have a wide variety of interests and experience in topics including road ecology; large herbivore movement, migration, and habitat selection patterns; rangeland monitoring, management, and restoration; and impacts of invasive species, land-use change, and climate change on natural systems. I am currently based in Jackson, WY where I am a Research Associate at the Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative and an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Wyoming's Department of Zoology and Physiology and Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources.
Deer-Vehicle Collisions and Migrations in Wyoming
My report to the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) on deer-vehicle collisions in Wyoming is now complete and available. In this report we bring together the best available data on the spatio-temporal patterns of deer-vehicle collisions and spatio-temporal patterns of mule deer movements, thanks to a collaboration with the biologists at the Wyoming Migration Initiative. Bringing this detailed information together lends new insights and recommendations about how to mitigate the effects of roads on deer in Wyoming. Download the full report or the executive summary to learn more!
New Study on the Reducing Speed Limits as a Means to Reduce Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions
I have recently started a new project, working in close collaboration with WYDOT to test the effectiveness of reducing night time speed limits as a means to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions. Although the idea that reducing speed limits will reduce collisions is logical and popular, it has generally been assumed by transportation managers to have low effectiveness because driver compliance is low. However, there have been few well-designed studies on the topic. We will be testing the idea comprehensively at six sites in southwestern Wyoming over the next two years.
Big-headed Ant Project Launches
This past May and June, my colleagues and I officially kicked off our new study on the ecological consequences of the big-headed ant (Pheidole megacephala) invasion in the savannas of Kenya. This ant kills native ants that have a mutualistic partnership with acacia trees: the ants protect the trees against herbivores like elephants (yes, tiny ants deter giant elephants!) and in return the trees give the ants a home and sugary nectar. Where the big-headed ant has invaded, the trees no longer have their native ant defenders and are being pushed over by elephants. (You can read about my preliminary work on this topic in the New York Times and Science online). We are beginning the process of understanding in greater depth what the big-headed ant does to trees, how fast these wildlife-rich savannas are losing trees, and what the consequences are for native wildlife like zebras, gazelles, rhinos, and giraffes.
Feature in Planet Jackson Hole
My work and career are highlighted in a feature in Planet Jackson Hole! It is an honor to be recognized by the Jackson Hole community in this way.