Climate change is considered one of the greatest threats to global biodiversity loss, and is currently altering the distribution and abundance of numerous species. My main research interests focus on understanding and predicting how species will respond to climate change, and integrating this knowledge into conservation decisions. I also broadly work on questions related to predator-prey ecology, population cycles, vertebrate scavenging communities, and wildlife management.
Climate change and snowshoe hares
Predicting the impact of climate change on species demography remains challenging because of the difficulties in determining how climate affects biotic interactions. Changing climate could impact biotic interactions in numerous ways, including the alteration of predator-prey dynamics. My past and current research investigates how climate impacts the predation risk of snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) by altering winter snow depth, and by shortening the snow season causing coat-colour mismatch. I am also interested in whether hares have the adaptive potential to reduce the negative fitness costs associated with climate change, and how climate change effects vary across their range. I am currently working on these questions in a newly established Butter Pot Ecological Project located near St. John’s, Newfoundland with collaborator Eric Vander Wal from Memorial University.
Wood bison ecology and management
Wood bison (Bison bison athabascae) were once a numerically dominant species across the boreal forest of northwestern North America. From 1988-1992, 170 wood bison were reintroduced to southwestern Yukon as a part of the national recovery effort to restore the subspecies to its former range. This reintroduction has been a biological success, as the population has grown to nearly 2000 individuals. With collaborators Thomas Jung and Fiona Schmiegelow, I am currently conducting research on the population ecology and management of this herd.
Community ecology in the Yukon
The Community Ecological Monitoring Project has been monitoring snowshoe hares and numerous other species within the Champagne and Aishihik First Nation's traditional territory in the southwestern Yukon since the 1970’s. Since 2015, I have been working within this project on multiple questions including how climate change impacts snowshoe hares, the potential influence of bottom up and top down drivers of their population cycles, and the vertebrate scavenging community. This work involves collaborations with researchers from U of Alberta, U of Toronto, UBC, Trent U, and the Government of Yukon.
Please contact me if you want to discuss any of my research interests through email or over a beer!