Research

My research interests broadly encompass aspects of community ecology, mammalogy, mycology, and morphology with a primary emphasis on small mammals (rodents and insectivores ≤ 300g).

Dissertation Research

Animals are an integral component to forests, yet few studies have examined the direct and indirect effects of their resource use on ecosystem function. The mutualistic interactions among small mammals, truffles, and trees offer an excellent opportunity to investigate how mammals contribute to ecosystem function. In New England, the diets of forest-dwelling small mammals consist largely of truffles, the spore-bearing fruiting bodies of mycorrhizal fungi. Because these fungi assist trees with nutrient uptake, small mammals play a critical role in forest processes by consuming and dispersing mycorrhizal spores. My dissertation research investigates truffle diversity in New England and explores how changes in resource availability shape dietary niche partitioning among small mammal species and contribute to mycorrhizal spore dispersal. By assessing dietary niche breadth and overlap of generalist consumers and fungal specialists across masting and non-masting years, I am beginning to untangle how interspecific interactions can influence mycorrhizal diversity in forests.

 

Past Projects

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