My research interests lie at the intersection of behavioral ecology, evolutionary biology and conservation policy. These broad themes can be divided into four focal categories as follows; 1) sustainable management of wild populations; 2) behavioral mechanisms of vulnerability including demographic susceptibility, hybridization and maintenance of species boundaries; 3) taxonomic status and its relationship to protection of biodiversity including areas of endemism; cryptic lineages and phylogeographic patterns; and 4) the identification of genetic change over time in response to anthropogenic factors including the utilization of archival DNA to identify baseline conditions for recovery and to predict genetic outcomes under climate change scenarios.
Much of my current research seeks to link long-term anthropogenic changes with changes in biological attributes of wild populations. I have a long held interest in the incorporation of genetic data from museum specimens, historical records, archeological, and paleolimnological sources into models of how changes in human management of landscapes have been tracked by species. These types of data will inform in-situ wildlife conservation efforts such as restoration and translocation by providing a comprehensive understanding of changes (or lack thereof) in genetic variation patterns of populations that have undergone extreme population fluctuations in both space and time. For example, I have used genetic data from Egyptian crocodile mummies to try to identify the baseline distribution of unique evolutionary lineages in the Nile crocodile and I am currently evaluating genetic sequence data from 100 year old frog specimens from Las Vegas to assess the taxonomic status of remnant populations proposed for reintroduction there.
Students interested in joining my lab should contact me regarding research and funding opportunities.