…has a love of insect life that began as a child in Texas and
Maryland and has led to experience in museum collections, research and
field work with organizations including the Systematic Entomological
Laboratory and Agricultural Research Service of the USDA, the
Smithsonian Institution, the University of Colorado’s Natural History
Museum, and the Colorado Natural Heritage Program as well as numerous
publications regarding insect systematics, biogeography & host plant
I am excited about the interaction between soil organisms and the
ecosystems they are a part of, especially as these interactions
determine ecosystem health and function. My current projects include one
on the response of soil microorganisms to forest fragmentation and
another on the resilience of floodplain microorganisms to extended time
periods without flood. My previous work focused on landscape
biogeographical distributions of alpine soil microbes and their
interaction with the plant community.
I am interested in community ecology and the mechanisms that
influence species assembly within communities. I am studying insect
species within the Wog Wog experiment and using simulation models to
determine how environmental variables and species interactions determine
species’ distributions. I hope that knowledge gained will help to
establish successful conservation strategies.
My research focuses on a simple question: what happens when you carve
a forest into lots of little pieces? Contrary to what you might expect,
lots of species across lots of trophic levels respond positively
(especially for the first several years). My research explores the
mechanisms behind the curious and often unexpected responses of
populations to habitat fragmentation. Currently, I am using a common
garden skink as a focal species within the Wog Wog Experiment, but much
of my work expands to the entire trophic system in which they are a
part. This research centers on landscape ecology, while integrating
population biology, biophysical ecology, and ecosystem-level analyses.
For my PhD project, I am studying the ability of beetle species
to disperse through fragmented landscapes. I will use a variety of
techniques including genetics and tracking, to test directly the
dispersal ability of a number of beetle species at the Wog Wog
experimental site, each with known responses to fragmentation over the
experiment's 25 year history. I am based at the Australian National
University (ANU) in Canberra, Australia and am jointly supervised by Dr
Davies and Drs Don Driscoll and Sam Banks from the ANU.
Erin Polka, Erin Collier-Zans, Caroline Glidden.
Prospective PhD Students
The lab is currently full.
I encourage individuals who have their own funding, or are interested in pursuing funding, to email me to discuss research ideas. Potential funding sources are: Smith Fellows Program.