Conservation ecologist and PhD student
Broadly interested in the application of computer modeling to conservation, I am motivated by the threats faced by our natural world and its inhabitants in the ongoing Sixth Extinction.
You can find my C.V. here.
In 2017, I started working with Dr. Brian Enquist at the University of Arizona on range modeling of cacti under climate change. While many associate cacti with deserts, this family of plants ranges from Canada to the southernmost reaches of South America. Given their drought resistance, the public tends to think of cacti as very resilient, but it is in fact one of the most threatened plant groups on earth. We are using tens of thousands of geographic observations from the BIEN network to model the potential future impacts of climate change on hundreds of species of cactus. Preliminary results indicate that more than half of all cactus species may undergo range contractions in this century. When land use and rate of dispersal limitations are taken into account, this number goes up to over 70% of analyzed species.
From 2016 to 2018, I worked with Dr. Margaret Evans at the University of Arizona on demographic range modeling of pinyon pine. Pinyon pine is an important tree species of the pinyon-juniper woodlands of the American Southwest that has been undergoing mass mortality events due to elevated temperatures, prolonged droughts, and bark beetle outbreaks. Many of the threats faced by pinyon pine are expected to become more severe with ongoing climate change.
Understanding the future of species under climate change requires a thorough understanding of species' niches, and thus their demographic responses to the environment. Using a type of size-structured demographic modeling technique, Integral Projection Modeling, spatially-explicit maps of predicted population growth rate across pinyon pine's range are being produced.
From 2015 to 2016 I worked with Dr. Ben Poulter at Montana State University on tropical forest ecology. A first project focused on the role of competition in driving mortality of tropical trees. We found strong evidence for self-thinning at the scale of entire forest stands, within stands, and individual trees. Classification accuracy of individual tree mortality models was strongly improved by including local tree density as a predictor. A second project showed the potential improvements of predicting forest carbon stocks and dynamics by integrating remotely-sensed data, ground inventory data and the dynamic global vegetation model ORCHIDEE.
In 2014, I worked with Dr. Andy Hansen at Montana State University on the future of whitebark pine. While multiple stressors, including climate change, pine bark beetle, and blister rust, are simultaneously threatening the future of this subalpine tree species of the Rocky Mountains, we propose several scenarios under which whitebark pine may persist on the landscape.
More coming soon!
I am an avid collector of cacti and other succulents. By 2023, I hope to assemble a complete collection of all known cactus species, in order to conserve these plants ex situ. To do so, I need your help. If you have a lead on one of the missing species on this or list, please let me know! These are the IUCN Red Lists of critically endangered and endangered cacti, modified based on recent research and communication with cactus experts. See this article and its appendix for more information on the IUCN's cactus conservation classification efforts.
Driven by conservation? I'd love to hear from you!