Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Broadly, I am interested in the evolution of social and antipredator behavior and the ramifications mechanisms of behavior have for higher level ecological processes and for wildlife conservation. I have spent over a decade studying the evolution of complex communication and sociality and used the 14 species of marmots (Marmota-cat-sized sciurid rodents found throughout the northern hemisphere) as a model system.
Much of my marmot work now focuses on the yellow-bellied marmots of the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (www.rmbl.org) which have been studied continuously since 1962.
A main theme in my research is integrating knowledge of animal behavior into conservation biology. Ultimately, I aim to illustrate, through examples, how knowledge of behavior should influence policy. In addition to my more theoretical work, I’ve been actively engaged in using ecotourism as a form of community development and as a way to conserve natural resources. My theoretical research interests are particularly relevant to the applied work because ecotourism can adversely impact wildlife. Ultimately, it is the wildlife’s perception of human impacts that matters.