I am a PhD student in the Beissinger Lab. My research lies at the intersection of landscape, population, and community ecology. I am interested in developing integrated models for understanding and predicting how wildlife populations will respond to habitat changes in the coming decades, and decomposing the relative importance of different drivers of these changes.
My dissertation focuses on understanding how wetland habitat dynamics affect metapopulation dynamics and community composition in the Sierra Nevada foothills, as mediated by climate change, landowner decisions, and emerging diseases. Much of this research is conducted in collaboration with other labs via the Wetlands in a Working Landscape project. A central focus of my research is analyzing changes in wetland patches in the Sierra over the past decades and linking these changes to climatic and landowner decision models to project future changes. This will then be integrated into metapopulation models for Black Rails and Virginia Rails to examine how patch dynamics driven by climate and landowner decisions impact the likelihood of metapopulation persistence, and how differences in dispersal capabilities between these two species affect metapopulation response to wetland patch changes. I am developing extensions to this research to examine how wetland changes will affect the broader wetland bird community in this region in the coming decades. Through collaboration with a West Nile virus lab, I am also working on integrating epidemiology into these models.
I received my B.S. in Zoology and Biological Aspects of Conservation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2009. Following graduation I began work at the International Crane Foundation, where I used geographically weighted regression to analyze the habitat selection of the breeding population of a reintroduced flock of endangered Whooping Cranes. This work formed the foundation of a predictive model I then developed to analyze the Wisconsin landscape for the optimal sites for a new reintroduction effort, now underway by the Wisconsin DNR.
Van Schmidt, N. D., Cary, T. L., Ortiz‐Santaliestra, M. E., & Karasov, W. H. (2012). Effects of chronic polybrominated diphenyl ether exposure on gonadal development in the northern leopard frog, Rana pipiens. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 31(2), 347-354.