My lab conducts applied research in the fields of ethology and conservation investigating topics including habitat–species interactions, predator–prey dynamics, and wildlife ecology and management. We research different levels of animal organization, from physiology to meta-population dynamics, allowing us to gain a better understanding of the multi-scale nature of the processes influencing animal populations. Because the development and implementation of solutions to challenging management problems requires an understanding of stakeholder values, our research is paired with a strong outreach component that enhances communication among scientists, policy-makers, and the public. The goal of my lab is to produce objective findings that inform wildlife management issues and leads to more effective policy decisions.
M.S.: University of Georgia
Ph.D.: University of Georgia
I am generally interested in mammalian ecology and population dynamics. My research has focused on the use of population and ecological modeling as a tool for conservation and management of wildlife populations. I completed a master’s degree at Auburn University where I estimated abundance of white-tailed deer using camera traps and N-mixture models and evaluated effects of coyote removal and wild pigs on deer abundance. For my PhD, I collaborated with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to develop an adaptive harvest management model to help inform harvest decisions for wolves in Montana while decreasing uncertainty in wolf population dynamics and improving methods to estimate recruitment across the state.
M.S.: Auburn University
Ph.D.: University of Montana
Abby is studying wintering waterfowl ecology and is interested in assessing impacts of anthropogenic disturbance on wintering mallards. In particular, she is determining factors that influence refuge use in west Tennessee, a current and historically important region for waterfowl hunting. She aims to provide information to better understand and manage refuges to meet wintering waterfowl needs.
B.S.: Wartburg College, Waverly, IA
M.S.: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
Nick is studying winter and migration ecology of mallards. He is particularly interested in resource use and wetland availability during winter, spring migration patterns, and individual strategies during non-breeding periods which increase fitness. Nick seeks to fill these and other knowledge gaps to better inform resource management and conservation planning for waterfowl, wetlands, and people.
B.S.: Clemson University
M.S.: Clemson University
Cory is studying the ecology of wintering mallards in western Tennessee. Specifically, Cory is interested landscape connectivity for waterfowl wintering in western Tennessee. This information will be used to help determine priority areas for wetland acquisition.
M.S.: Tennessee Tech University
B.S.: Grand Valley State University
Haley's current research focuses on the occupancy of marsh birds in Tennessee and the development of new field methods for detecting them. Marsh birds are known for being highly elusive, difficult to detect visually and select wetland habitats that are difficult to navigate. Many are listed as species of conservation concern at the state and federal levels. This decline is largely attributed to wetland degradation and loss. Marsh birds are highly selective, and a slight change in water levels or vegetation structure can lead to declining populations. In collaboration with Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, we will be evaluating different management practices on both natural and restored wetlands to determine their effect on marsh bird populations. This includes surveys for vegetation and other wetland dependent characteristics.
B.S. Mississippi State University
Sara is studying the ecology of eastern wild turkeys. She is particularly interested in the role of kin selection in breeding groups of male wild turkeys, factors influencing social interactions of female wild turkeys, nest parasitism, and how variations in female behavior influences brood survival. Her work in Kentucky will detail wild turkey reproductive ecology, including local gobbling chronology, spatial and behavioral ecology, as well as nest and brood rearing success on a matrix of public and private lands. This work will increase our basic understanding of wild turkey behavior and inform resource managers and aid in conservation planning for wild turkeys.
B.S. University of Florida
M.S. University of Georgia
Cole's research focuses on creating and implementing efficient waterfowl habitat monitoring protocols for state and federal agencies. Additionally he will be using previous research on wood ducks in conjunction with banding data to step down and guide banding goals for wood ducks in the Mississippi and Atlantic flyways.
B.S. North Carolina State University
G.C. Five Oaks Ag. Research & Education Center
Abby’s current research examines the decline of eastern wild turkey populations throughout Tennessee and Kentucky. More specifically, Abby’s project aims to determine factors impacting harvest rates of male wild turkey populations across these states. Abby intends to provide state agency personnel with an improved harvest model to aid in successful population management strategies.
B.S. The Ohio State University
Mateo's research focuses on using artificial intelligence with satellite imagery to locate areas with flooded farmlands. This in turn aids in better delineating waterfowl habitats at large spatial and temporal scales.
B.S. Tennessee Tech University
Stefan Nelson (MS degree awarded 2021)
Wild turkey poults are about sparrow-sized when they hatch, but grow rapidly in the first weeks of life. They are likely constrained in what habitat they can access because of these size constraints. Stefan's research focused on habitat management for wild turkey broods. His work highlighted the importance of thermal refuge (i.e., cooler places) and insect rich areas as brood habitat. He also found when poults are very young and small, they are constrained into areas where they can easily walk, like heavily grazed pastures and mowed trails. Lastly, his research indicated that unmanaged pine systems were avoided by poults in their first weeks of life. Photo credit: New Hampshire Game and Fish.