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Lab Member Fall 2003 – Fall 2007
Currently Marie Curie Postdoc in Sevilla, Spain
RESEARCH INTERESTS during lab tenure
“Although behavioral ecology and conservation biology are in urgent need of integration, few tools currently exist which can facilitate this merger. For instance, one reason behavioral information is not included in population viability analyses is that these data are not collected in a manner that facilitates incorporation into population models. Tackling this issue requires: 1) new approaches to incorporate available behavioral information into estimates of viability, and 2) empirical efforts to gather more usable behavioral data. The resulting behaviorally-explicit population models will improve the precision of viability estimates, resulting in a more efficient use of conservation resources.
For my PhD research I am addressing this need for integration by examining links between breeding habitat selection and population persistence on Californiasea lions (Zalophus californianus californianus) in the Gulf of California (GoC). Namely, I aim to 1) integrate habitat selection data into demographic models used to assess extinction risk, and 2) determine the mechanisms of breeding habitat selection in California sea lions and their effect on population distribution and site occupancy.
To achieve these goals I am currently working in the field, in the lab and in my computer. The field season covers most of the summer, the sea lions’ breeding season. During this period I mostly gather behavioral data, but I also collect tissue samples (for DNA extraction) from adults and pups, and capture pups that are tagged and measured. During the rest of the year I divide my time between my computer and a genetics lab. I work on my computer developing theoretical approaches to understand the effects of different behavioral strategies on population dynamics. In the lab I extract and analyze DNA from the tissue samples collected during the summer to determine the degree of philopatry and population structure in this species.”