vertebrate paleobiology

I use stable isotope geochemistry to understand environmental and biological signatures in extant and extinct vertebrate remains. I conduct modern experimental research on natural variations in carbon and nitrogen isotopes of modern carnivores, which to this point are mostly unknown. These values must be understood to properly implement stable isotopes in ecology and conservation of non-herbivorous mammals, and additionally, understand the diets of these animals in the fossil record.

I continue to work with extinct vertebrates through analyzing the carbon, oxygen and nitrogen isotopes of extinct crocodile and whale species. For both animals, this tracks changes in local environment and climate, and relates these abiotic factors to extinction factors. I enjoy using museum collections from around the world for much of this geochemical research. I have used fossil marsupials from the Pliocene of Australia to illustrate the environment of Queensland during this time. 

Based off my work on paleoenvironmental reconstructions from dinosaur eggshells, I am working with collaborators using new geochemical methods to learn more about dinosaur paleobiology. Check back soon for more publications on this research.

Death Row, Gobi Desert, Mongolia

Death Row, Gobi Desert, Mongolia

conservation ecology

I am interested in widely exploring what impact humans have on the survival and diets of uncommon vertebrates. I have worked across all time scales using techniques such as stable isotope analysis to figure out what the remains of animals (bones, eggs, hair, tissue) can tell us about the environments they lived in and the food they ate. I am currently using stable isotopes, in conjunction with next-generation sequencing methods, to look at modern samples collected from wildlife non-invasively (scats and hair) to see what they can tell us about the diets of carnivores, such as big cats. Combining genetic and chemical methods, we can get an extremely clear picture of an organism's dietary ecology. This allows us to be able to compare diets between sympatric species and geographically separated populations. It is vital to understand how apex predators change their diets as their habitats become more degraded so we can predict how food webs will change over time with increasing human ecological interference.

These same techniques can also be used to assess the impact of invasive species. I am currently working on a project to assess the impacts of invasive feral cats on The Bahamas. 

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