Current Research

Setting up nests with eggsOne of our current projects is focused on understanding how climate change might affect the development of alligator eggs. We have pursued this research for two summers and plan to continue for the foreseeable future.

Visit the gallery to see more images of the project.

Research Interests

Large predator movement and foraging

Apex predators can be important regulators of prey populations through consumptive and risk effects, but fully understanding their roles requires knowledge of their use of space and resources, and how individual predators might differ behaviorally. Our research in this vein has focused on crocodilians (alligators in the US, black caiman in Guyana) and how their movement and foraging behaviors are influenced by environmental conditions as well as available prey types.

 

Climate change effects on food webs

Climate change is currently affecting almost every ecosystem on Earth, and predicting how species will respond is a top priority for ecologists. Using spiders and grasshoppers, our research focuses on increasing the complexity of experiments to gain more realistic insights into how food web dynamics may respond to climate change. We also study how the evolutionary histories of different populations affects their ability to tolerate climate change. 

 

Eco-tourism

Tourism geared toward exploring the wonders of nature has been growing in size and scope for many years, yet frequently the effects of such activities on species are not known. We have participated in two eco-tourism research projects, one investigating the effects of whale watching boats on humpback whale behaviors in Hawaii and one examining the effects of boats and swimmers on dolphin behaviors in New Zealand. I am currently working with my collaborators in Guyana on quantifying the economic value of black caiman as part of community-led eco-tourism at Caiman House. 

Science and public policy

Public policy at the local, state, and federal levels determines how our society approaches environmental problems both large and small. We firmly believe that effective public policy in the environmental arena requires consistent input from reliable, transparent, and well-funded scientific research. To help achieve these goals, we work with legislators to ensure that environmental public policy is built upon sound science. We have contributed briefing memos on a wide range of environmental issues to policymakers in the Connecticut General Assembly and members of Congress. We have also twice represented the Ecological Society of America on Capitol Hill in an effort to inform members of Congress about the importance of scientific research for the long-term health and prosperity of the US.