RESEARCH
  Our planet flourishes with biodiversity that range along a spectrum of life histories; with some traits varying by orders of magnitude. Despite this range in diversity, certain combinations of life history traits do not exist in nature. My overarching research goal is to gain insight into the biological patterns and processes that have shaped this immense diversity of life history traits and the mechanisms that maintain it. Much of my research thus far has focused on the challenge animals face, their struggle against inhospitable conditions, and the extreme measures that translate to survival.

  My current research focuses at the interface of physiological ecology, molecular biology and electrical engineering and I draw from across these disciplines in my research. Through comparative analyses, controlled laboratory experiments, population level studies, and novel tool development, I work to understand the evolutionary origins, drivers, and maintenance of phenotypic variation and the role that trait variation plays in fitness and survival. To date, I have focused on three core research areas in avian systems: 1) developmental plasticity and phenotypic fitness, 2) the relationship between developmental cues and trait expression, and 3) spatial variation of traits and behavior related to thermoregulation.
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Developmental Plasticity

Early life effects on Life history Trajectories

Starting at an nascent embryonic state, there is a certain amount of uncertainty in the developmental environment. Animals respond to cues in their environment that provide reliable information, increasing their chances of survival. Early life effects have the potential to be long lasting, however we know little of what happens after chicks leave the nest.

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Movement Tracking Technology

microelectronics and the Drivers of migration

Despite the vast ornithological literature, considerable gaps in knowledge still exist regarding what are the drivers and costs of migration. This is due, in part, to the historical limitations on the mass and size of electronics in addition to battery life.  Recent advances in consumer electronics have provided the components to advance new tools for the study of migration. 

 
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Thermoregulation Ecology

The ENERGETIC COSTS of homeostasis

The environment can impose considerable energetic costs on organisms due to the costs of maintaining homeothermy. Animals use energy to counteract the effects of heat transfer in cold environments through shivering thermogenesis or in hot environments via evaporative cooling.  Accordingly, the environmental costs affect the resources available for other functions, such as reproduction and are of particular interest in variable environments or facing rapid change.

Radar Applications in Ecology

 

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