My primary interest is the use of umbrella species to measure the outcomes of efforts to restore ecosystems. Specifically, my work has centered around two grouse species (lesser prairie-chicken and greater sage-grouse) that require spatio-temporal heterogeneity in vegetation communities at broad scales to satisfy their life history needs. If the diverse needs of these species are being met through conservation and restoration then the broader suite of fauna and flora in these regions benefit. Another component of this work examines the “working lands” aspect of these landscapes, and seeks to find land-use practices (primarily agricultural) that are sustainable in the context of the system, species, and those using it. Thus, using rigorous field studies (e.g., GPS-PTT tracking technology) we measure changes in space use, resource selection, and demographic rates of birds to assess the effectiveness of various conservation actions to restore ecosystem function. More recently, I have begun work in the wetlands of the Klamath Basin and National Wildlife Refuge Complex, examining the importance of these emergent wetland systems to breeding waterbirds and other ecosystem services. Finally, my work seeks to translate the science to the practitioner, landowner, and public at large to illustrate how these goofy yet majestic birds are a barometer that we should not only heed but enjoy.
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