I'm currently a Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Florida Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. My research focuses on developing wildlife and habitat management strategies that promote biodiversity, ecological integrity, and ultimately human health.  I'm most interested in the spatial distribution of animals, particularly those that are uncommon, highly specialized, or difficult to find.  Using a variety of different analytical methods, including observation studies, natural experiments, earth observations from the air and space, and ecological models, I try to quantify the relationships between the living and non-living components of ecosystems, and how these relationships change over time.  Most importantly, these results are then used to inform the sustainable management of wildlife populations and their habitats to maintain diverse and resilient ecological communities.  Though my research focuses on vertebrates, I often incorporate plants, weather, climate, soil chemistry, and disturbances like fire.

News

New article published in Animal Conservation

Our studies suggests an endangered rodent in the Lower Florida Keys has more potential to benefit from rising sea level than invasive black rats, but only if development is limited. We believe this represents an important conservation opportunity as sea levels continue to rise.

Dissertation research featured in New York Times

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New paper published in Environmental Research Letters

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Widespread mangrove damage resulting from the 2017 Atlantic mega-hurricane season

Abstract

Comprised of 17 named tropical storms, 6 of which were major hurricanes, the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season ranked as one of the most damaging and costly hurricane seasons on record. In addition to socio-economic impacts, many previous studies have shown that important coastal ecosystems like mangroves are shaped by severe storms. However, little is known about how the cumulative effects of storms over entire hurricane seasons affect mangroves across large regions. We used satellite imagery from the entire Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico region to show that 2017 resulted in disproportionate mangrove damage compared to baseline responses over the previous 8 years. Specifically, we observed 30 times more mangrove damage, via a reduction in the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), during 2017 compared to any of the eight previous hurricane seasons, and most (72%) of this damage persisted throughout the 7 month post-hurricane season period as indicated by no NDVI recovery. Furthermore, wind speed, rainfall, and canopy height data showed that mangrove damage primarily resulted from high maximum wind speeds, but flooding (cumulative rainfall), previous storm history, and mangrove structure (canopy height) were also important predictors of damage. While mangroves are known to be resilient to hurricane impacts, our results suggest that increasingly frequent mega-hurricane seasons in the Caribbean region will dramatically alter mangrove disturbance dynamics.

An ear-tagged silver rice rat in the Lower Keys. Photo by Lucas Bobay.