Research Interests

Joe and loyal field assistant, Kimber, near Tenderfoot Creek, Lewis & Clark National Forest, Montana.

Joe and Kimber near Tenderfoot Creek, Lewis & Clark National Forest, Montana.

I am a postdoctoral research fellow at Washington University and the Tyson Research Center in St. Louis. I have a Ph.D. in wildlife biology from the University of Montana, a master’s degree in wildlife biology from Humboldt State University, and a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of Michigan. I joined Washington University’s Tyson Research Center as a postdoctoral fellow in 2015.

My research explores the roles of species interactions in shaping community assembly, population dynamics, and biodiversity. I am interested in interactions across trophic levels as well as the ecological and evolutionary roles of both generalist enemies like nest predators and specialized enemies like soil microbes and other pathogens. I am also interested in how local species interactions scale up to influence regional or biogeographic processes. I address critical gaps in knowledge with a combination of field-based experiments, large-scale observational studies, and a wide range of quantitative approaches including multivariate statistics, null modeling, and simulation models of population and community dynamics.  I have worked with a variety of avian and plant communities in Montana, California, and Missouri. I have also led national and international collaborations using extensive datasets from the MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survival) and the Smithsonian Center for Tropical Forest Science-Forest Global Earth Observatory (CTFS-ForestGEO) networks.

My current research interests include: patterns of biodiversity and mechanisms of community assembly across trophic levels (plants, microbes, insects, birds, and mammals); the role of specialist and generalist enemies in the dynamics, assembly, and diversity of plant and animal species; perceived predation risk, defensive responses, and resulting indirect demographic costs (“costs of fear”); and the influence of global climate cycles and novel pathogens on populations dynamics and communities of plant and animal species.