Our lab focuses on better understanding how wild animals interact with each other and with their environments. Historically, our work focused on two fairly broad topics: (1) how predators directly affected prey populations through the process of predation and (2) how forest management, especially prescribed fire, influenced wildlife populations and communities. Although work continues in each of these areas, our recent efforts have – in many ways – merged these topics.
Today, our research seeks to illuminate how interactions among animals influence animal behaviors and how animal behavior might manifest in population-level and even ecosystem-level changes. Some of our recent and ongoing work emphasizes the importance of predation risk as a component of habitat selection and prey activity patterns and how predation risk can have cascading effects on vegetation by altering the habitat selection of herbivores. Through our ongoing efforts, we hope to provide convincing evidence that a specie’s habitat needs are best understood when we understand how that species responds to risks posed by their predators and competitors and how species balance the risks and rewards of disturbance.