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Community Ecology - Conservation - Global Change

Impacts of Climate Disturbances on Wildlife Communities and Species Assemblages

Extreme climatic disturbances, such as megafire, have increased in frequency due to ongoing anthropogenic pressures. These extreme disturbances may threaten the resilience of wildlife communities. Understanding how these communities respond and potentially restructure following these disturbances is key in guiding conservation planning and management. 

My research incorporates a collection of biodiversity monitoring techniques to understand how communities are impacted by these climatic disturbances and help inform future wildlife management.

Overlap of wildfire and megafire with major Californian ecosystems and taxonomic groups (Calhoun et al., 2021) Diversity and Distributions.

Behavioral decisions made by certain species following disturbances may buffer some wildlife populations from the consequences of extreme perturbations. These behaviors may provide some adaptive capacity to the effects of megafire and other disturbances, but we know relatively little of how these play out over the long and short-term. 

I use GPS-collar data and camera trap data to understand how the behavioral decisions of wildlife species change following megafire. I use this to quantify the adaptive capacity of animal species to better inform future wildlife management under predicted changes in climate and disturbance regimes.

Animal Behavior and Adaptive Capacity in Response to Climate Disturbances

Monitoring Black-tailed Deer (O. hemionus columbianus) following the 2018 Mendocino Complex Fire at the Hopland Research and Extension Center.

Conservation Technologies and Biodiversity Monitoring Networks

Establishing biodiversity monitors (cameras and acoustic monitors) across a network of recently burned sites.

In an age of unprecedented global change and precipitous declines in biodiversity, monitoring the health and resilience of the local ecosystems that surround us has become a key tool towards tailoring appropriate conservation management. With my work, I seek to build collaborations that incorporate conservation technology tools (camera traps, acoustic monitors, and auto-classifiers) to better monitor local wildlife communities and address regional concerns of wildlife management including the impacts of wildfire, drought, and human-wildlife conflict for conservation.

Disturbances exacerbated by climate change (such as megafire and drought) constrict  available resources for both people and wildlife across broad landscapes. As these available resources become tighter, wildlife and human communities may come to rely on increasingly shrinking, shared pools of resources which exacerbate conflict between the two groups. 

I plan to combine existing datasets of recorded conflict with species distribution models to explore how these dynamics may play out in response to different types of climate disturbances. 

Human-Wildlife Climate Conflict

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