The Biodiversity initiative is an organization of biologists whose objective is the conservation of biodiversity through exploration, education, and science in the rainforests of Central Africa and beyond. We are currently conducting wildlife research, teaching wildlife conservation courses and building capacity for conservation action in the small central African country of Equatorial Guinea, where BI has been working since 2013. Our goals include 1) conducting wildlife surveys for bird and mammals to better identify animal distributions, 2) evaluating ecology to understand survival, diet, and habitat needs of wildlife, and most importantly, 3) building capacity to get locals the equipment and training they need to protect local wildlife. For more information, visit: http://biodiversityinitiative.org/. Also, see our group featured in the July/August 2016 Audubon Magazine.
Canine Ancestry Project
I'm a project leader of the Canine Ancestry Project, a large collaborative project lead by Bridgett vonHoldt at Princeton evaluating ancestry genetics of North American canids. As part of this team, I'm focused on red wolf genomics and coyote range expansion. For more information on this exciting work visit us on Twitter..
Red wolf Ecology and Conservation
Red wolves (Canis rufus) are an endemic North American canid that is critically endangered. Wild red wolves currently persist at very low numbers in a single reintroduced population in North Carolina; a captive breeding population is also maintained. My collaborative research examines how inbreeding and immunogenetic variation influences fitness, disease susceptibility, and mating behavior in the wild red wolf population. I have also evaluated mitochondrial DNA from ancient canid bones to inform an ongoing debate regarding the species status of red wolves. I continue to be involved in all things red wolf and advocate for utilizing sound, peer reviewed science to manage and conserve wild red wolves.
Evaluating population dynamics of rare and elusive species, such as river otters, is inherently difficult. Yet otters, which are sensitive to habitat change, harvested for their fur, and persecuted throughout the world, are often in need of management or conservation action. Noninvasive genetics and passive camera traps offer a solution to answer questions about population size, social behavior, dispersal patterns, diet, and disease. I applied noninvasive methodologies to answer such questions in a population of North American river otters (Lontra canadensis) in northern California. See HSU River Otter Citizen Science Project for more otter work in the region. I am expanding into new noninvasive and otter research with the Biodiversity Initiative in Equatorial Guinea. We recently captured images of a Congo clawless otter (Aonyx congica), one of the least known otters in the world, in Equatorial Guinea and plan to focus future efforts to evaluate population densities, reproductive behavior, and movement patterns of this little-known species.