Protected Areas and Biodiversity Conservation

Prioritizing where best to work (and what specifically to do) for biodiversity remains an urgent need in the field of conservation science. I have contributed to projects investigating the ability of US National Parks to represent freshwater fish diversity, helped develop protected area selection procedures proposed to be more robust to climate change, and worked to integrate economic considerations into the actions of biodiversity conservation organizations.


Armsworth, P.R., E.R. Larson, S.T. Jackson, D.F. Sax, P. Simonin, B. Blossey, N. Green, M.L. Klein, L. Lester, T.H. Ricketts, M.C. Runge and M. R. Shaw. 2015. Are conservation organizations configured for effective adaptation to global change?Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. (link)

Schloss, C.A., J.J. Lawler, E.R. Larson, H. L. Papendick, M.J. Case, D.M. Evans, J.H. DeLap, J.G.R. Langdon, S.A. Hall and B.H. McRae. 2011. Systematic conservation planning in the face of climate change: Bet-hedging on the Columbia Plateau. PLoS One. 6:e28788. (link)

Lawrence, D.J., E.R. Larson, C.A. Reidy Liermann, M.C. Mims, T.K. Pool and J.D. Olden. 2011. National parks as protected areas for U.S. freshwater fish diversity. Conservation Letters. 4:364-371. (link)

Niche Modeling and Species Distributions

Species distribution (or ecological niche) modeling has emerged as a central tool in ecology and conservation over the past decade, but much work remains to be done testing assumptions and advancing methodologies for this approach. I have tested the "niche conservatism" hypothesis upon which these techniques rely, developed a new method to conduct distribution modeling under data-limited circumstances ("avatar species"), and explored potential effects of climate change, invasive species, and dispersal limitations on the distributions of rare and imperiled species.


Larson, E.R., R.V. Gallagher, L.J. Beaumont and J.D. Olden. 2014. Generalized "avatar" niche shifts improve distribution models for invasive species. Diversity and Distributions 20:1296-1304. (link)

Capinha*, C., E.R. Larson*, E. Tricarico, J.D. Olden and F. Gherardi. 2013. Effects of climate change, invasive species, and disease on the distribution of native European crayfishes. Conservation Biology. 27:731-740. (link*Shared lead authorship. 

Larson, E.R., J.D. Olden and N. Usio. 2010. Decoupled conservatism of Grinnellian and Eltonian niches in an invasive arthropod. Ecosphere. 1(6):art16. (link)

Crayfish Conservation, Ecology, and Management

Crayfish can be dominant species in freshwater food webs and ecosystems because of their high densities, omnivorous feeding habits, and burrowing behaviors. Further, crayfish are also both a highly imperiled taxonomic group globally and one that has produced a number of major invasive species. I am broadly interested in crayfish conservation, ecology, and management, with studies ranging from northern Japan and Europe to regions throughout the United States, including my current work on crayfish in the Laurentian Great Lakes. I am especially interested in crayfish of the genus Pacifastacus endemic to western North America


Larson, E.R., C.L. Abbott, N. Usio, N. Azuma, K.A. Wood, L.-M. Herborg and J.D. Olden. 2012. The signal crayfish is not a single species: cryptic diversity and invasions in the Pacific Northwest range of Pacifastacus leniusculus. Freshwater Biology. 57:1823-1838. (link)

Larson, E.R. and J.D. Olden. 2011. The state of crayfish in the Pacific Northwest. Fisheries. 36(2):60-73. (link)

Larson, E.R. and J.D. Olden. 2010. Latent extinction and invasion risk of crayfishes in the southeastern United States. Conservation Biology. 24:1099-1110. (link)

The Thin Blue Line? Interactions between Land and Water 

Although some ecologists long recognized that aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems are not isolated, effort has intensified in recent years to characterize the flow of energy and organisms between water and land. My work has sought to use crayfish as tracers of "land-water ecotonal coupling," and I am also interested in the behaviors and conservation of organisms that rely on ephemeral or intermittent freshwater environments. 


Larson, E.R., J.D. Olden and N. Usio. 2011. Shoreline urbanization interrupts allochthonous subsidies to a benthic consumer over a gradient of lake size. Biology Letters. 7:551-554. (link)

Francis, T.B., D.E. Schindler, G.W. Holtgrieve, E. R. Larson, M.D. Scheuerell, B.X. Semmens and E.J. Ward. 2011. Habitat structure determines resource use by zooplankton in temperate lakes. Ecology Letters. 14:364-372. (link)

Larson, E.R., D.D. Magoulick, C. Turner and K.H. Laycock. 2009. Disturbance and species displacement: Different tolerances to stream drying and desiccation in a native and an invasive crayfish. Freshwater Biology. 54:1899-1908. (link)