About Me

Puma kitten and mom feeding at kill. Photo (c) Sebastian Kennerknecht Photography

Puma kitten and mom feeding at kill. Photo (c) Sebastian Kennerknecht Photography

I am a PhD candidate with the Santa Cruz Puma Project in the Wilmers Lab at the University of California, Santa Cruz. I am interested in how human-induced changes in animal behavior can have far-reaching impacts throughout animal communities.

Linking Urban Carnivores and Conservation Behavior

My research focuses on how to best preserve carnivores and their ecological roles in modified landscapes by understanding their behavioral responses to human disturbances. The link between animal fear and community dynamics has been well established in ecology, yet the application of this theory to human-dominated systems is in its infancy. Understanding the relationships between fear, carnivores, and species interactions can better inform conservation plans in areas where humans have usurped the role as the top predator.

As a member of the Santa Cruz Puma Project, I am investigating how people change puma behavior and ecology, particularly in regard to hunting and feeding behaviors. My work specifically examines effects of puma behavioral change on their prey and the local scavenger community.

Advancing Methods in Conservation Behavior

For my research, I always try to employ the most cutting-edge and effective methods available. I use motion-sensor speakers and cameras, novel techniques in DNA metabarcoding, spatial analysis tools, and citizen science to investigate the links between humans and wildlife. My approach to conservation research is built on a belief that we need to continue to advance our methods in order to both learn about and create solutions to conservation problems.

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Puma kill in residential neighborhood

Puma kill in residential neighborhood