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 how we can reduce the impacts of roads on large mammals;  rangeland management and restoration; and impacts of invasive species and climate change on natural systems. I am based in Lander, WY where I am the Director of Science with The Nature Conservancy's Wyoming chapter. I am also an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Wyoming's Department of Zoology and Physiology.

Recent News

New Grant from the Office of Surface Mining

Our sagebrush "innovative restoration" team here at The Nature Conservancy (myself, Maggie Eshleman, and Olga Kildisheva) were recently awarded a two-year grant from the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. This will enable us to continue our research on the potential for seed technologies to enhance establishment success of sagebrush seedlings. We are using the idea of seed technology, which is widespread in agriculture and involves coating and modifying seeds to enhance them, to see if we can improve native plant restoration in the highly threatened sagebrush ecosystem.

Nature's Clock is Ticking Faster

It all started with a snowshoe hike to the late Frank Craighead, Jr.'s old cabin on an inholding within Grand Teton National Park one snowy day a few years ago... as his son Charlie and wife Shirley helped me find Frank's old notes, my excitement grew: here was a gold mine of data on when plants flowered and birds arrived on their summer grounds from the 1970s, before climate change really started affecting things. Six years later, thanks to my colleague, Trevor Bloom, the research and citizen science program started that day are both blossoming. For example, we have learned that early spring plants -- important food for many animals -- are flowering three weeks earlier now than in the 70s. Learn more about this work in a video that Trevor recently produced. 

Frenemy at the Gate

In a recent paper co-authored with Todd Palmer and other colleagues, we build on the saga of the big-headed ant (Pheidole megacephala) invasion and its impacts on 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 heavily impacted by browsing wildlife like elephants. But in a new twist, we show that the big-headed ant actually benefits one of the native ants and co-exists with it, partially maintaining the native ant-acacia mutualism. You can see the paper, recently published in Ecology, here.

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This page last updated December 2020