How will ecological systems and landscapes change in the face of the compounded threats of land use change and climate change?
Fundamental to the exploration of ecology are efforts dedicated to disentangling dynamics across spatial and temporal scales. Although some mechanisms driving climate change operate at global scales, the implications of climate warming and variability on physiology, ecology, and evolution play out at more localized spatial scales and across different temporal resolutions. Studies of thermal ecology therefore need to be spatiotemporally explicit, and fill the gaps on resolutions and extents not well represented in ecological literature; notably, the fine-scale variability in climate, or microclimate, that occurs due to changes in vegetation structure, topography, and with diel and seasonal variation
Stemming from a childhood fascination with catching and keeping our scaly neighbors, I use reptiles and amphibians as a study system for understanding how changes in land use change and climate shape biodiversity. Because herps are abundant, easy to identify (for a herper), and frequently demonstrate high local endemism, shifts in their distributions and diversity can feasibly be recorded as land cover changes. Herps are also ectothermic and therefore are highly responsive to adjustments in their thermal environment, making them an ideal group of organisms for thermal ecology and microclimate studies. Read about one of my herp diversity projects here.
Landscapes can be mosaics of land uses and land cover, with natural habitat patches within agricultural or other working lands that represent a gradient of structure, climate, and function. Human-modified areas between patches of intact habitat, or matrix, may be inhospitable to native organisms (owing to the intensity of disturbance), or may facilitate dispersal between natural habitat patches, depending on the biological or geographical characteristics of the modified areas. I explore how variability in vegetation structure, and interrelated variability of near-surface temperature and humidity (microclimate), dictates dispersal and distributions.
Explore some of ongoing projects by Dave and collaborators here
Exploring global change ecology across scales and systems
Contributing to Amazon conservation and research outside of academic settings
Who doesn’t like playing with R Shiny for fun maps?
Near-term, iterative forecasting for conservation and management application.
Instructor for Carpentries, a network aiming to train researchers with essential data and computational skills
Drone applications for mapping of terrestrial and coastal systems
Meet MESH, a team building microclimate sensors that wirelessly log and transfer information at a low cost
Filmmaking and production for environmental non-profits
If research is the eyes of the scientific community, outreach is its voice: positive change requires proper communication and motivation.
One form of conveying the importance of conservation work is through film and photo. See the gallery for some of Nature Dave’s work developing multimedia products to share some of the amazing wildlife and scenes he’s experienced.View Gallery