Advisor: Dr. Clayton Nielsen
As human interactions change the landscape and impact natural communities, animal populations are substantially affected. Understanding how and why groups of animals are organized the way they currently are and how this organization is likely to change is imperative in order to preserve the longevity of existing natural communities. Population structuring and statistical modelling provide an unique insight into how animal species are interact with each other and the surrounding landscape.
The bulk of my current work is using camera trap data collected from across southern Illinois to conduct occupancy modelling of non-predator mammalian species. Through this study we will gain a better understanding of what kind of factors affect interactions between species and their surrounding landscape. Target species include squirrels and deer, both of whom are widespread throughout the state. Beyond occupancy modelling, I am also working with other researchers in the Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory to do tooth extractions of river otters for age data, with the goal of creating population models.