Conservation, restoration, community ecology, and environmental management.
My research is focused on understanding how an endangered keystone species, the Giant Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys ingens), interacts with the plant community in California's largest remnant grassland at Carrizo Plain National Monument. Specifically, I'm interested in the following questions:
1) How do Giant Kangaroo Rats, as granivores, affect the success of native plant restoration from seed?
2) How do Giant Kangaroo Rats alter the physical and chemical properties of the soil, and what impact do these changes have on the plant community?
3) What plant species seeds do Giant Kangaroo Rats prefer to consume and how do their preferences affect seed fate?
4) Why do Giant Kangaroo Rat precincts (burrow) have a different plant composition than in the intervening areas? What is the relative importance of granivory vs. soil disturbance?
5) Do Giant Kangaroo Rats promote invasive annual grasses or suppress their abundance, and at what scales?
6) Are Giant Kangaroo Rats seed predators of the species they prefer, or does a mutualism exist? What percentage of seed caches are recovered and how does recovery rate vary by seed species, location, and type of cache?
Honors and Awards
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship ($121,500) 2009-2012
Garden Club of America Award in Desert Studies ($4,000) 2011
Travel Award to US-Africa Conservation Biology Working Group Meeting in Kenya 2011
Travel Award to US-Africa Conservation Biology Advanced Study Institute in South Africa 2010
Bren School for Environmental Science & Management Graduate Fellowship ($12,500, declined) 2009
Rose Hills Foundation Summer Research Fellowship ($5,000) 2008
Rose Hills Foundation Science and Engineering Scholarship ($33,000) 2007-2008