Community Ecologist and Data Scientist

I study why we find living things beside each other and how this might change over time or space. I am especially interested in how these living things manage outside of normal. I do this by going outside into the field and using computers. I love what I do and hope to keep nature normal. For a jargon filled description of my research see below and find out more about me here!

Extreme Events in Ecology

Climate extremes, such as extended drought, heavy rainfall leading to flooding, and severe frost events, are predicted to increase in magnitude, duration, and frequency. Climate extremes affect ecosystems globally on an annual basis and are expected to be more impactful driver of community assembly than gradual shifts in climate. I explore the effects of these extreme events on our natural systems and the implications it can have for biodiversity and the delivery of ecosystem services.

Currently, I am examining the effects of extreme climate events on insect populations using a review and long-term dataset of butterfly populations in the alpine. I have also exploring how the loss of lake ice globally is being driven by extremes in air temperature.

In Winter 2020, I hosted an international symposium exploring all things related to extreme climate events in ecology.

Extreme Environments in Ecology

Deserts and alpine environments are among the more sensitive ecosystems in the world. These systems are characterized by extremes in temperature and precipitation with relatively short growing seasons. As a result, species have evolved unique biological and ecological characteristics to survive.

My research has focused on the role of foundation species in supporting plant communities, insect communities, or an endangered lizard species across spatial gradients and during extreme climate events. I have also explored the reciprocal cost for these foundation species from the species they facilitate.

In degraded deserts, foundation species can be used to support native plant species or incorporated into restoration programs. 

 

Disruptions to Species Interactions

With climate change and land development, interactions between species are in flux. Both trophic and non-trophic interactions are being lost or created as a result of changing species assemblages. Factors that affect one species can have cascading effects that ripple through the entire ecological community. Thus, we need to better understand the indirect impacts of climate change or land use through species interactions.

Using a global meta-analysis I examined the indirect effects of livestock grazing on the trophic structure of communities. I have also explored the effects of climate change on trophic interactions by modelling future mismatches in range between butterfly species and their host plants.