fluorescent dye on hands




























1) Large-scale spatiotemporal population dynamics of forest-defoliating insects

gypsy moth caterpillar

I am interested in why population abundance tends to fluctuate synchronously across space and why the populations of many species exhibit cyclical "boom-or-bust" dynamics.  I have been working on these questions by studying spatial and temporal patterns in the outbreaks of forest-defoliating insects and using these patterns to inform mechanistic simulation models that allow me to study the roles of underlying biotic (e.g., natural enemies) and abiotic (e.g., Moran effects induced by weather) processes. My primary study subject is the gypsy moth, one of the most damaging forest pests in North America. My main collaborators in this area are Derek Johnson (Virginia Commonwealth University), "Sandy" Liebhold (U.S. Forest Service), and Patrick Tobin (University of Washington).

2) Effects of climate change on population dynamics of forest-defoliating insects

pandora moth

Many studies predicted that climate warming would increase the frequency and severity of outbreaks of forest-defoliating insects. Though some species show these responses, the few studies that have examined the outbreak histories of defoliator species, have revealed few generalities in their responses to climate change. Interestingly, one of the more common effects seems to be collapsing of population cycles. To date, my main approach has been use of a variety of time-series analysis techniques to study temporal variation in population dynamics and to uncover the underlying climatic drivers. I am also developing methodologies combining experiments (field and lab) and spatial data analysis. Some of my current and former collaborators in these efforts are Dietrich Klimetzek (University of Freiburg) and Jacques Tardif (University of Winnipeg).

3) Light pollution: ecological impacts

I examine the ecological impacts of light pollution (artificial light at night) in collaboration with my graduate students Ariel Firebaugh and Melissa Hey. Light is profoundly important to many aspects of life as a source of both information and energy. Ariel and I are examining the effects of light pollution on insect demography and population ecology. Melissa and I are examing effects on ecosystem processes including primary production and decomposition.

Collaborators (not comprehensive)

Greg Dwyer, University of Chicago

Howard Epstein, University of Virginia

Ann Hajek, Cornell University

Derek Johnson, Virginia Commonwealth University

Andrew "Sandy" Liebhold, U.S. Forest Service

Patrick Tobin, University of Washington