Current Research

Predator-Prey Interactions

Our research group has a long-standing intererst in the hunting behavior of snakes, with an emphasis on predator-prey interactions between rattlesnakes and small mammals. Our work integrates behavioral studies with research on biomechanics, physiology, and functional morphology of both predator and prey in order to generate a more holistic understanding of the costs and constraints of antagonistic coevolution.  To that end, in addition to field behavior and ecology, lab members have also worked on venom chemistry and venom resistance, sensory ecology, physiological ecology, and the biomechanics of movement in snakes and small mammals.

Conservation and Population Ecology

On the more applied side of science, our group has a deep commitment to helping us understand and mitigate the ongoing global loss of biodiversity, and a number of our research projects focus on conservation and management. Several of these projects use population genetics and other tools to understand connectivity and population structure in the context of anthropogenic habitat fragmentation.  Other projects focus on understanding anthropogenic impacts on population demography, growth rates, and persistance of species in fragmented habitats. My group works collaboratively with local management agencies, and tends to focus on representative species from the local community to examine different aspects of their ecology relating to population size, movements, dispersal, and habitat use. This work will give us a better understanding of how different species living in the same ecosystem are impacted by local anthropogenic barriers such as roads and development. We hope to optimize management and mitigation efforts designed to protect local biodiversity by understanding details of how behavioral variation within and between species lead to differences in population responses to anthropogenic pressures.

Quantitative Natural History

Some projects in our research group on fall into the general category of “quantitative natural history”. We are thrilled by the discovery of new details of the natural lives of animals, and find deep satisfaction in documenting these details in quantitative ways, speculating how certain behaviors or adaptations may have evolved, and publishing these details for the larger community of ecologists and evolutionary biologists to build upon. We believe it is imperative that scientists occasionally explore unknown details of the natural world in a haphazard fashion, following their own curiosity, with no particular practical or conceptual goals other than satisfying informed inquisitiveness. Such research often provides the raw material that can be refined into broader conceptual understanding, genearl theories, or practical applications. Without these unfettered academic pursuits, our collective expansion of knowledge would slowly grind to a halt.

Please see Lab Members page for additional details of research projects we are working on.

Last Updated:  December 2023