A Townsend's big-eared bat ( Corynorhinus townsendii ) captured at Devil's Tower National Monument.

A Townsend's big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii) captured at Devil's Tower National Monument.

Climate Change and Physiology

When we talk about the impacts of climate change on animals, we're mostly discussing its indirect impacts: a warmer or drier climate causes or changes some natural phenomenon, which then impacts animals. Wildfires in western North America are a good example of this. But warmer temperatures from climate change will also directly affect animals in many ways. For heterotherms--animals that go into torpor during periods of thermal or resource stress--warmer climates may disrupt torpor. This has wide-ranging implications for nutrition, disease, and conservation. I am currently studying this issue in bats.

 A hoary bat ( Lasiuris cinereus ) captured at Devil's Tower National Monument.

A hoary bat (Lasiuris cinereus) captured at Devil's Tower National Monument.

Climate Change and Behavior

As local climates change, animals will alter their behavior to adapt to new environmental conditions and physiological restraints. I'm currently researching how hot summer days alter bat and moose resource use, as well as working with colleagues to develop guidelines for best practices in the use of some common models of animal movement.

Climate Change and Biogeography

Because climate in large part shapes where animals live, climate change is altering species distributions. It's also changing large-scale phenological patterns as the biotic and abiotic components of ecosystems change. I study patterns in these changes and try to find the underlying mechanisms that drive them (currently focusing on bats).

Global Change and Conservation

Climate isn't the only thing changing across the globe. Atmospheric composition, biological communities, disturbance regimes, biogeochemical cycles, the distribution of people on earth and how we use it—all are transforming ever more rapidly. Changes to any one of these often perturb other parts of the system, with big implications for wildlife. These overarching issues drive my interest in ecology and shape my approach to research, so I try to explicitly incorporate conservation into all of my research.