Research in Spatial Ecology
Since the publication of The Fragmented Forest by Dr. Larry Harris in 1984, the department has been highly active in the field of spatial ecology. Landscape ecology is concerned with how species respond to habitat patterns at multiple spatial scales, how human activities alter those patterns over large areas, and how such changes influence the ecology and the conservation of biodiversity. Many of the departmental current faculty participate in landscape ecology research in Florida and throughout the world.
Examples of programs:
- Spatial dynamics of wildlife populations (Dr. Rob Fletcher). This program focuses on development, testing, and implementation of novel and exciting ways to approach large-scale problems arising from intense anthropogenic pressures in Florida and locations throughout the world. This work uses basic and applied principles of landscape and spatial ecology to approach this topic, drawing from intensive and extensive field data, experiments and quantitative modeling. Specific projects include interpreting the effects of biofuels expansion on biodiversity across the U.S., providing management guidelines for minimizing impacts of human recreation on the endangered Florida panther, and the development of decision support tools based on avian distributions for managing forests across the Pacific Northwest.
- Ecology and conservation of species in patchy habitats (Dr. Lyn Branch). This program focuses on the dynamics of patchily distributed species and the feedbacks between these species and the ecosystems and landscapes they inhabit. Specific projects include assessment of the role of ecosystem engineers in structuring communities and controlling ecosystem processes in semiarid ecosystems of Argentina and in the longleaf pine ecosystem of Florida, demography and metapopulation dynamics of mammals and lizards in fragmented habitats, and behavioral landscape ecology of species in ephemeral landscapes (e.g., beach mice populations in coastal dunes).
- Ecology and conservation of forest birds (Dr. Katie Sieving). This research seeks to characterize behavioral and ecological mechanisms (e.g., risk aversion, predation) underlying processes (e.g., local movements, habitat selection) and defining interspecific interactions that influence bird species distributions and population viability in fragmented and disturbed (primarily agriculturedominated) forest landscapes. Specific projects include conservation ecology of endemic forest birds in south-temperate rainforest, integrating bird conservation with Florida agroecosystems, and the ecology and management of isolated redcockaded woodpecker populations in Central Florida.