Our research focuses on developing and using computational methods for understanding ecological and evolutionary patterns and processes with a focus on conservation biology.
Historic and Contemporary Urban Divergence in Slender Salamanders
The Batrachoseps complex consists of ~15 species and subspecies of Slender Salamanders that are remarkably similar in morphology but that also exhibit high levels of genetic diversity and divergence among species likely a result of their presumed sedentary lifestyle. We are using Species Distribution Models to evaluate the role of environment in generating these genetic differences.
Species Distribution Model of Batrachoseps major in Southern California. Warm colors indicate high predicted probability of presence.
Optimizing Habitat Restoration with Species Distribution Models
Identifying ideal locations for habitat restoration projects is crucial for their success. We are utilizing multi-species Distribution Models to identify locations along the southern coast of California that have high levels of predicted presence of over 40 commercially and recreationally important shallow rocky reef fish and invertebrate species in an effort to identify preferred locations for manmade reef projects.
Multi-species Distribution Model indicating areas of high predicted probability of presence across multiple shallow rocky reef fish and invertebrate species.
Quantifying Spatiotemporal Indicators of Human Impacts on Reefs
Incorporating human impacts on ecosystems is essential for ecological studies in heavily impacted regions. We used an interdisciplinary approach to integrate historic commercial and recreational fishing records with biological and geophysical data to quantify a spatiotemporal harvest intensity index on shallow rocky reefs in Southern California.
Yearly changes in Harvest Intensity Index for Commercial and Recreational CPFV fishing across the Southern California Bight. Metric Tons per km squared of reef area for 66 shallow rocky reef fish and invertebrate species combined.
Predicting the Spread of Emerging, Invasive Pathogens – Salamander Chytrid
Species Distribution Models are frequently used for predicting the spread of invasive species; however, few studies evaluate the predictive power of alternative models of spread. Using a model selection framework to compare candidate models for the spread of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, the emerging infectious salamander chytrid, we were able to successfully isolate a single best fit model.
Predicted probability of presence for Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans in Europe based on environmental associations in the native range of the fungal pathogen.
Best Practices for Improving Inclusivity in the STEM Classroom
Creating inclusive classrooms provides an opportunity for students of all backgrounds to succeed. In reviewing the literature to evaluate evidence for the most frequently utilized and promoted methods for improving performance of underrepresented minorities, we found that while some studies show significant impacts of these methods, there is a general lack of experimental studies on the topic. Future research needs to consider how these methods contribute to the success of all students in our STEM classrooms.
Achievement gap ratio between underrepresented minority and majority students by inclusivity practice. The data come from studies that examined one of the four broad inclusivity practices for both URM and majority populations