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I am an ecologist interested in how biodiversity influences ecosystem function. Specifically, I want to understand how anthropogenically mediated species loss and introductions impact ecological function and community structure. I employ theoretical, field, and lab-based methods in my research including functional diversity analysis and fecal DNA metabarcoding. My research bridges insights from the fossil record with modern conservation and ecological restoration.


Mammalian functional diversity through time

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How has mammalian functional diversity changed following the loss of large-bodied species? This project quantifies functional diversity at a site in Texas from the Terminal Pleistocene to the present, an interval covering the megafaunal extinction and historical extirpation of many large mammals. Results indicate the modern community is functionally depauperate, with the impact of recent extirpations heightened by reduced functional redundancy from the earlier megafaunal extinction. However, introduced domestic and exotic large mammals may restore some lost function in the modern community. You can read the published article describing this work here.


Mammalian functional diversity across space

How is mammalian diversity structured across different environments?  Here I will quantify global patterns in functional and phylogenetic diversity to better understand the ecological and evolutionary processes that influence variation in biodiversity. Critically, human activity has strongly impacted faunal distributions via extinctions, range contractions, and introductions. I am exploring how this has impacted large-scale macroecological patterns in mammal diversity. 

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Applied functional ecology

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What is the ecological role of an introduced ungulate, Oryx gazella, in southern New Mexico? To what degree do they compete with native species, or act as functional replacements for extinct or extirpated grazers? This project will characterize the diet of O. gazella and several sympatric native ungulates using fecal DNA metabarcoding and stable isotope analysis. Specifically, I am interested in how dietary overlap among species changes with seasonal resource availability, as this may provide insight into the ecological impact of oryx under increasing drought due to climate change.

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