My research focuses on interactions between large herbivores and vegetation, and the management issues surrounding this topic including hunting, agriculture, habitat conservation, and human-wildlife interactions.
I try to create opportunities for youth and stakeholder involvement in my science research and planning.
Are Washington’s recolonizing wolves causing indirect changes to plant communities through their impacts on deer?
For my PhD, I am studying the impacts of recolonizing grey wolves on deer-plant interactions in north central Washington. I am part of a research team at the University of Washington Predator Ecology lab interested in learning how this coursing predator may be impacting deer foraging behavior, diet composition, and plant browse.
Feeding vs. Fleeing: The foraging cost of wolf predation risk for deer
In weighing foraging options, animals trade-off food and safety. The giving up density (GUD) is the amount of food remaining in a depletable food patch after a forager has ceased harvesting the patch, with higher GUDs in risky habitat than safe habitat. In Northeast Washington, deer may be trading off foraging due to the increased risk of predation from naturally recolonization of gray wolves. To test this prediction, I am using feeding trays in March 2015 to measure the GUDs of mule and white-tailed deer in wolf-recolonized habitat compared with wolf-absent habitat.
These results will give insight into fear and predation risk. Increases in predation risk may drive changes in habitat use and plant communities as a result of vegetation released from grazing pressure in high risk areas.
How is elk and vegetation management impacting songbird communities in Rocky Mountain National Park?
My masters research focuses on trophic cascades due to over-grazing by elk (Cervus elaphus). In this project, I am working with Liba Pejchar at Colorado State University to evaluate the effects of elk management and willow restoration on bird communities in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. I am using program DISTANCE and unmarked package in R to analyze bird abundance and occupancy in willow communities of various condition.