Elevational Range Shifts Across Space and Time

As temperatures continue rising globally, many species are shifting their distribution upslope and/or poleward. However, species are responding in idiosyncratic ways, and populations often don’t shift in the same direction across their geographic range. Accordingly, I am interested in the drivers of range shifts and the traits that may allow species to adapt in situ. Further, I am interested in developing novel methods to more accurately forecast which species will shift soonest and where they may move. Managers will be able to use the results of this work to understand the greater extent of elevational shifts across the region, identify areas of greatest future extirpation risk, and apply this information in conservation planning across taxa.

American pika (Ochotona princeps)

Documented ~800m upslope retractions (red up to green) of pikas across three watersheds in Idaho

Communities, Species Interactions, & Climate Change

As species shift on the landscape to track shifting environmental conditions, changes in community composition are expected to grow more widespread. The distributional losses of some species may open up niches for other species to now fill. To this end, I am interested in how shifts in species’ distributions shape new community assemblages and how species traits might inform who will be a climate change ‘winner’ vs ‘loser’ in new habitats. Species can vary drastically in their thermal tolerances and other physiological limits so utilizing species-level traits may be one avenue to assess which species are disproportionately vulnerable to climate change while others are not.

Pronghorn near the Gravelly Mountain Range, Montana

Species Responses to Wildfire in Montane Systems

While wildfire are natural and common disturbances on the landscape, the size, intensity, and frequency of fires have recently increased in many regions in recent decades due to accumulating fuels and climate change. However, we currently know little about how species surviving in ‘fire refugia’ are affected by these fires. In this work, I am investigating how long-toed salamanders and Columbia spotted frogs are responding to changed habitat conditions in recently burned areas across the Northern Rockies ecoregion. This work aims to inform managers about how fire shapes various aspects of aquatic species lives, with the ultimate goal of informing how rarer species and those at-risk of extinction elsewhere may be responding to shifting disturbance regimes.

Trap Fire, Stanley, ID