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Urbanization has emerged as a major force of global change affecting the biosphere. Cities produce 75% of the Earth’s greenhouse gas emissions and exert spheres of influence over broad spatial and temporal scales. With the ever-increasing global urban population, particularly in the world’s developing regions, cities will constitute the forum in which humans are tasked to create sustainable systems. This requires an understanding of the structure and functioning of urban ecosystems, yet knowledge of this type is largely lacking. My research to date has focused on (1) understanding the effects of urbanization on animal community structure and (2) identifying development patterns that may mitigate the negative effects of urbanization on animal populations. The former has included studying the responses of anuran communities in remnant urban ponds to landscape context and time since urbanization and comparing the responses of breeding birds and carabid beetles to increasing housing density. The latter research focus has involved modeling the effects of the trade-off between housing density and sprawl area on breeding bird and carabid beetle communities. My research approach typically consists of combining field and GIS data at various spatial scales to address questions about a diverse array of taxa.
In addition to continuing these lines of investigation in future, I plan on addressing how the built environment can be transformed to create and maintain wildlife habitat. My ultimate goal is to identify mechanisms and practices that increase the biodiversity and resilience of urban systems so they can be sustained over the long term.
I teach ESCI 1101 Earth Sciences – Geography in addition to landscape ecology and urban ecology courses in the department.