Community Ecology and Conservation of Species with Complex Life Cycles
More than 80% of animals have a complex life cycle where they undergo distinct changes in their ecology and morphology during ontogeny. The anuran life cycle is generally characterized by an aquatic larva that metamorphoses into a carnivorous, terrestrial adults. Because each life stage is so distinctive in its ecology, and occupy different habitats the degree to which abiotic and biotic factors affect community structure differ for each life stage. Knowledge on each life stage’s distinctive habitat requirements is the critical foundation for conservation and management efforts. This aspect of my research program focuses on understanding how trade-offs within one life stage can have carry-over effects in the subsequent life stage and can scale up to influence community organization.
Functional Perspectives on Community Ecology and Conservation
Functional traits are linked to an organism’s performance and understanding patterns and dynamics of functional traits of community members can provide insight to underlying assembly processes. Results from this research can be extended to understand the strength of species’ interactions, species loss or persistence in response to disturbances, community organization across scales, and the impact of non-native species on recipient assemblages. In turn, these results can help inform management and conservation strategies.
Approximately 83% of the total area of the United States is within 1 km of a road. Roads inhibit movement and expose animals to traffic collisions as well as alter assemblage composition. My objective is to examine the extrinsic (landscape attributes) and intrinsic (species traits) factors that cause vulnerabilities to road mortality as well as hindrance of other important processes, such as movement/dispersal. I have a long-standing interest in predicting species vulnerability to road mortality and in turn, using this information to design effective mitigation strategies to reduce exposure to vehicles while still maintaining population connectivity.