The migratory Burrowing Owl is one of the most unique and adorable birds in North America, and it is in grave danger.
These birds make their homes in burrows left abandoned by prairie dogs. In recent decades, prairie dogs have been poisoned in droves, as landowners find them a nuisance. This leaves traces of dangerous poison behind, which Burrowing Owls often ingest.
According to the National Wildlife Federation, Populations of burrowing owls are declining as their habitats are eroded by human interference, and pesticides and poisons used to kill prairie dog colonies leech into their environment. Burrowing owls are also at risk of predation from coyotes, birds of prey, and feral cats and dogs.
I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.