My research interests encompass addressing questions in behavioral and population ecology. I am particularly interested in research questions that can be analyzed on multiple scales. Multi-scale approaches are important because processes at lower spatial or temporal scales are not necessarily reflected at higher scales. Therefore, our understanding of a particular system is not complete with an understanding of the system dynamics at only one scale.
The issue of scale is one that is reflected in the interacting fields of population ecology and behavioral ecology. The approach of behavioral ecology is to focus on individuals in order to understand the adaptive significance of behaviors, whereas population ecologists focus on populations of interacting individuals to understand the processes that determine the abundance and distribution of species. These pursuits are logically linked because the behavior of individuals will impact the demographic rates of populations, and the patterns of abundance and distribution of populations can in turn affect the behavior of individuals. The usual behavioral ecology approach of focusing on individuals often neglects higher-scale spatial and temporal processes, whereas a higher scale population ecology approach may neglect underlying individual dynamics.
Within this framework, in collaboration with Dr. Caitlin Gabor, I have examined questions ranging from reproduction and physiological processes within individuals (e.g., sperm competition and stress hormones) to questions about landscape-level variation in behavior (e.g., variation in male mate choice). We have worked in a variety of animal systems to examine these questions.