My research interests are broad, encompassing various aspects of ecology, modeling, genetics, and conservation biology. I am particularly interested in integrating fine scale field observations and experiments with landscape-level patterns and processes. As such, my research utilizes a blend of field surveys, manipulative experimentation, GIS-based landscape analyses, individual-based and population modeling, and population/landscape genetics. Although I view my research as being question driven, I do have a particular fondness for all things herpetology, especially caudates, specifically Plethodontid salamanders.
In 2005 I graduated from Butler University with a B.S. While at Butler I was a researcher with the Urban Turtle Ecology Research Project (U-TERP). My research there utilized radio telemetry and GIS to evaluate the movements of Chelydra serpentina in the Central Canal of Indianapolis. I also conducted an observational study of the basking behavior of turtles within the canal.
I completed my Master's degree at the University of Missouri in 2008 where my research assessed the effects of riparian buffer strips on stream salamander populations in the southern Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. From this research we learned that current guidelines inadequately protect stream-breeding salamander populations in low order, headwater streams. Due to the loss of upland forest and increased stream sedimentation, both larval and adult salamander populations declined.
My current dissertation research is focused on the fine-scale distributions, physiological limitations, and population genetics of Plethodon albagula (western slimy salamander). To address these questions, I am conducting field surveys to determine distribution and habitat associations of salamanders, and making habitat models that predict probability of occurrence. I am also conducting water loss experiments to see if there are physiological correlates with my habitat models. Lastly, I am using fine-scale landscape genetics to assess patterns of genetic diversity across the landscape, specifically testing hypotheses stemming from my field observations and experiments.
I am also involved in a collaborative project between the Semlitsch and Eggert labs to assess source-sink dynamics of Ambystomatid salamanders at Fort Leonard Wood. The focus of this project is on the ringed salamander (Ambystoma annulatum), which is a species of concern in Missouri. With this research we plan to integrate within pond larval dynamics, juvenile dispersal, metapopulation modeling, and population genetics to make long term management recommendations for this Ozark endemic species.
Other Research Collaborations:
Landscape genetics of Ambystoma jeffersonianum and A. texanum within an agricultural landscape (with J. Crawford and A. Kuhns).
Occupancy and distribution modeling of A. jeffersonianum (with J. Crawford and A. Kuhns)
Demographic network modeling of Missouri wood frogs (with T. Rittenhouse and J. Earl)
Predicting amphibian richness in urban greenspaces (with J. Milanovich, K. Barett, and M. Hopkins)