Ecology and Conservation Biology

Living in the Anthropocene means that conserving the earth’s biodiversity is one of the greatest challenges we face. In our research group, we conduct ecological research needed to help address this concern. Much of our research is driven by my own interest in mammals, particularly ungulates and carnivores. However, research increasingly involves other taxonomic groups. Additionally, our research is firmly embedded within a community framework. That means expanding research to include species interactions (e.g. predation, scavenging, competition) and often results in studies monitoring predators and prey simultaneously.

We embrace novel technologies and modelling. For example, to understand ecological interactions between deer and pumas, we have been deploying satellite enable GPS collars with accelerometers that are currently expanding our understanding of deer movements and habitat selection within a landscape of fear. Thanks to my former PhD student Mark Elbroch, we have also been using motion-activated remote cameras since 2009. Cameras have been invaluable in understanding the effects of kleptoparasitism from black bears on puma kill rates and helped record behaviours of elusive species such as clouded leopards. Check the Current Research page for more information!

In our group we are proud of the applied, conservation impact of our research. Our research has led to management being implemented to prevent further population declines of species threatened with extinction (e.g. caribou in British Columbia, huemul deer in Patagonia, avian biodiversity in urban Wellington). Throughout my own career, I have devoted significant time and effort to ensure my research is being communicated to decision makers. For example, I have been an adviser to several different government (e.g. British Columbia Ministry of the Environment, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wellington City Council) and nongovernment (IUCN Deer Specialist Group) organisations. I find this to be a very rewarding aspect of my scholarship.

Prospective Students

There are two ways for students to join my lab. First, I sometimes accept students for projects I have received funding for. These students develop research proposals in line with my research objectives. Good examples are how my previous PhD students Max Allen and Tavis Forrester developed research ideas within the framework of my Mendocino Deer Project (2009-2014) that was funded by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. These students are usually funded through my grants or receive PhD stipends. I also sometimes accept highly motivated students interested in developing independent research projects. Note that high GPA’s are a prerequisite for receiving doctoral scholarships. All students in my lab have to be willing to work long hours in the field and not shy away from quantitative analyses and modelling.

If you are interested in joining our group, please contact me through the details below.

Associate Professor
School of Biological Sciences