I will be starting a postdoc in the Entomology department at the University of Illinois in the Summer of 2019. Stay tuned for more information on upcoming research projects and updates to this website. Previously, I finished a PhD at the University of Oklahoma where I asked questions about nutrients, traits, and communities using invertebrates.
The state of Oklahoma lies in the middle of numerous ecological regions, yet the diversity of many taxa is poorly documented. Since arriving in this state, one of my goals has been to increase both the scientific and public awareness of one notable taxon, the ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). To date, we have started to publish exciting discoveries including latitudinal, state, and county records at the species, genus, and subfamily level. Baseline data provided from these biological surveys is important not only for understanding range limits and expansions, but also for highlighting the diverse fauna that routinely goes unnoticed. Please check the Ants of Oklahoma tab for more information about a collaborative project.
Nutrition & Foraging
All animals require nutrients for survival, growth, and reproduction. For two macronutrients, proteins and carbohydrates, we found that there are specific blends that animals not only prefer but also excel on. Previously my research focused on exploring how different amounts of these macronutrients affected performance values in an insect herbivore across developmental stages. Presently, I have started to expand upon these ideas using stable isotope techniques to explore how variable individuals, populations, and species are in natural systems.
A key question in ecology remains the origin and maintenance of trait diversity. For part of my dissertation, I am working on disentangling how traits like body size and thermal tolerance vary across species and in turn shape where those species can live. While much of this work is done at a local scale, I am also interested in macroecological patterns that may be useful in understanding how and why traits vary across geographically diverse areas.
Disturbance & Habitat Modification
How species respond, both individually and together as a community, to natural and anthropogenic disturbances can be incredibly important for ecosystem processes like decomposition or soil cycling. To date, we have monitored short term impacts of flooding on invertebrate communities at the University of Oklahoma Biological Station, started a citizen science project to understand the impact of urbanization on ant diversity, and hope to elucidate how fire regimes regulate arthropods in the savannas of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. Check back for updates as these projects start to really take off!