I am interested in your backyard. I am an Urban Ecologist and study a variety of organisms in the context of the Urban Game Park—a dynamic and rapidly changing ecosystem that is seldom studied but is becoming increasingly prevalent around the world. In common with wilderness game parks like Yellowstone or the Serengeti, the Urban Game Park is full of plants and animals. In contrast, the plants and animals of urban areas are often considered pests or too common to be interesting study subjects. However, the common organisms in your backyard must cope with quickly changing forces never before encountered in any previous ecosystem—this makes them very interesting and accessible to anyone willing to take a few minutes to look.
My work seeks to maximize biodiversity in human dominated habitats and to increase awareness and appreciation of backyard biodiversity through the use of citizen science and model organisms to understand how humans and wildlife best interface.
My current focus is on the mechanisms of coexistence of
Gray and Fox Squirrels with humans and their environments.
I have developed a citizen science program that allows anyone within
the range of these animals to contribute data to a squirrel demographic study called Project Squirrel. Squirrels are an easily observed organism
that is strongly influenced by the local ecosystem including the size and
species of trees, the prevalence of predators including pets, and the
accessibility of garbage. By observing
the factors that influence squirrel populations, we can make more accurate
assessments about populations of other organisms that are more difficult to
observe. Go to Project Squirrel for all the details about squirrels and about how you can participate.