My research is rooted in ecological theory and uses novel field and analytical approaches to tackle the fundamental question of how to best conserve, manage, and restore biodiversity in a rapidly changing, human-dominated world. My particular interests center on the conservation ecology of terrestrial mammal populations and their habitats, with current projects broadly encapsulated under the following headings (see also example publications):
Mammal community dynamics in altered ecosystems
Despite their important ecological roles and socioeconomic significance, many terrestrial mammal populations are threatened by a range of anthropogenic stressors, including hunting, habitat loss, and climate change. Other mammals successfully exploit anthropogenic environments due to changes in habitat suitability or predation pressure. Wildlife management has typically focused on single-species assessments and actions, yet a fuller accounting of wildlife “winners and losers” is needed for effective landscape-level conservation. My research looks across species, scales, and stressors to seek general principles in wildlife population regulation and community structure within altered ecosystems. I use multispecies survey tools and coordinated distributed surveys to capitalize on large-scale management experiments, both planned and unplanned. Current projects in this area include:
Coexisting with large carnivores
Large mammalian carnivores represent a particular challenge for wildlife management. They can generate significant support for conservation and their loss may cause cascading effects through an ecosystem. However, carnivore populations require large, interconnected habitats with abundant prey, and frequently create conflict with remote or expanding human communities. Coexisting with carnivores therefore requires a landscape-level perspective alongside effective approaches for resolving conflicts and mitigating risks to people and prey. Navigating inevitable trade-offs necessitates reliable information on carnivore ecology in degraded and managed landscapes.
Current carnivore projects include:
Current carnivore projects include:
Wildlife population estimation and monitoring
Reliable data on animal distribution and abundance are required to advance ecological inquiry and guide wildlife management. Data must be collected at appropriately large spatial and temporal scales to capture relevant processes for wide-ranging species and regional planning. Robust models are needed to project inferences into unsampled space and time, and inherent uncertainty must be transparently acknowledged and ultimately reduced. To strengthen inferences on wildlife dynamics, my research evaluates and integrates multiple sampling methods—including camera trapping, genetic tagging, remote sensing, and telemetry—and uses comparative analysis and simulation modelling to separate ecological signals from sampling noise. I apply advanced quantitative tools—such as spatially explicit capture-recapture and machine learning models—to disentangle complexities inherent in ecological data, and I collect new data designed to test model predictions. I have a strong interest in improving the effectiveness of ecological monitoring and am working to develop a framework combining broad surveillance of cumulative effects with targeted assessments of hypotheses linked to management decisions. My research also focuses on evaluating and effectively using participatory monitoring and citizen science to expand coverage and engage the public in wildlife science.
Assessing and advancing conservation effectiveness
In order to have the greatest impact, I strive to link my science to societal needs. I believe that research should be integrated with monitoring and management, such that potential management decisions are represented as hypotheses to be evaluated with predictive models and tested with monitoring data. An integrated cycle of prediction, monitoring, and testing can be used to optimize decision-making, for instance in regulating harvest or restoring degraded habitats. I seek to work collaboratively with government, industry, local communities, and other partners on long-term research that supports efforts to balance competing demands on landscapes and ecosystems. Examples include developing wildlife-habitat models for application to land-use planning, and testing wildlife responses to land-use decisions. My research also evaluates the effectiveness of protected areas, which represent a fundamental conservation strategy around the world. Many parks face mounting pressure due to increasing isolation and human impact, and there is a need to improve park effectiveness by detecting threats and identifying successful mitigations that work for both parks and people. My research seeks to assess the ability of parks to effectively conserve threatened species and communities, evaluate the outcomes of management strategies in and around parks (including community-based conservation), and anticipate broad-scale threats to park networks in the face of global change.