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My Research

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Behavior in a Changing World

The next one hundred years are absolutely critical for our species. Even now, massive human-driven changes are sweeping across our planet. How might these shifts be shaping the future of biological life?

 

I am fascinated with animals and how they are coping with our rapidly-shifting biosphere. My research focuses on how animals use different behavioral strategies to navigate especially harsh environments, such as those created by wildfires and human development.

Currently, I am studying how Dark-eyed Juncos in Northern California use behavioral and foraging strategies to survive in post-wildfire habitats. Additionally, I'm working on a study in the Sacramento area with fellow scientists Sage Madden and Ian Haliburton. We're researching how Black Phoebes- normally suited to living alongside rivers- are so abundant in cities like Sacramento. Finally, I'm working with Richard Szeligowski on a laboratory study examining the effects of wildfire smoke, predation, and pesticides on the behavior and personality of arthropod species. 

By conducting these studies in tandem, I hope to build an understanding of how environmental change affects animals in the moment, in the immediate aftermath, and in the decades following major disturbances. With all three, we'll have a more complete picture about the future of animal behavior in an ever-changing world. 

In July, I presented my findings on increased aggression in post-wildfire juncos at the Animal Behavior Society conference in Portland Oregon. I'm currently processing a ton of data from this field season, and will update soon as preliminary results start to come in!

Current undergraduate assistants:

Aidan Reynolds, Ryann Su, Joana Rose, Kersten Plicner

 

Graduate student collaborators: 

Sage Madden, Ian Haliburton, Richard Szeligowski 

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