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B.S., State University of New York, 1980
M.S., McGill University, 1985
Ph.D., University of South Florida, 1992
Avian Ecology, Behavioral and Reproductive Ecology, Population Biology, Sociobiology, Urban Ecology
Life history strategies of species are finely-tuned to their environment through natural selection. Individual adaptations at multiple levels of organization, from physiological to behavioral, shape the demographic response of individuals to their environment, but the environment imposes its own set of limiting and regulatory factors. I am interested in the interplay between the adaptations of scrub organisms to their unique environment and the constraints imposed by variation of ecological processes, namely fire, as these interactions shape population dynamics. I also am interested in the variation in individual life histories and their fitness consequences. Because much of my work focuses on the Florida Scrub-Jay, I’m interested in how these dynamics have influenced the evolution of cooperative breeding. However, when I first arrived at Archbold, I realized how unique their large contiguous, fire-maintained scrubs relative to the rest of Florida. Elsewhere, human have altered the composition and structure of the scrub, the availability of foods, the abundance and composition of predator communities, and the spatial and temporal regimes of ecological processes such as fire. All these, plus the relentless loss of native habitats has wrought broad-scale changes in the structure and composition of entire landscape mosaics. Species may be able to respond to some of these anthropogenic changes or they may be evolutionarily constrained. Thus, my research has expanded to consider the many anthropogenic ecological changes and their impact on birds at a variety of scales, from physiological and behavioral to population and community responses. In my lab, we use a combination of longitudinal, observational studies and controlled experiments to identify ecological patterns and then to test the effects of specific variables. In particular, our research has focused on the effects of urbanization on the demography and social biology of the Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) and on the effects of multiple resource management (grazing, forestry, human recreation, military training and endangered species management) on Florida scrub-jays, red-cockaded woodpeckers (Picoides borealis), and the Florida grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum floridanu), all federally-listed birds.
To view a list on my publications please click here.