I am an ecologist with broad training and interests in evolutionary ecology, animal behavior, behavioral endocrinology, conservation biology, and human sociopolitical ecology. In my lab we use quantitative empirical approaches to test evolutionary ecological theory in animal populations at various scales of space, time, and biological organization. We are particularly interested in applying our knowledge of how wildlife populations and communities evolve and function in natural ecosystems towards understanding similar processes in human-dominated and constructed ecosystems such as cities. Our research encompasses a broad agenda bringing the power of quantitative evolutionary ecological approaches to bear on understanding the dynamic interactions between human activities and other organisms. A comprehensive approach to studying animal communities in human-dominated ecosystems integrates a focus on responses of individuals and species with comparative studies across species and regions. We combine approaches from multiple perspectives and scales, employing field research techniques learned from a range of disciplines. We use observational and experimental approaches in the field and laboratory, as well as quantitative modeling. What follows is a list of projects currently or recently active in my research group, with a brief outline of some of the questions being addressed:

Urban Bioacoustics:

  1. How does the urban acoustic space affect animal communication? Examining the effects of urban acoustic variables (traffic noise, diurnal variation) on the temporal pattern and structure of the songs of breeding resident (House Finch), and wintering migrant (White-Crowned Sparrow) urban birds.

Foraging in urban habitats:

  1. Investigating how variation in habitat within cities, especially due to human socioeconomic and cultural differences, affects avian foraging behavior and the perception of habitat quality by birds. Testing the “credit card hypothesis” in urban areas by assessing birds’ perceptions of food availability and predation risk in cities.

Urban Ecological Theory:

  1. Building a theoretical framework for urban evolutionary ecology and extending it to other human-dominated landscapes.

Global comparisons of urban bird communities:

  1. Citizen science for urban bird monitoring; comparative database of urban bird community data.

Restoration Ecology:

  1. Vertebrate responses to riparian restoration in California; conceptual modeling of restoration trajectories on ecological and evolutionary time-scales.

Reproductive flexibility in birds:

  1. Investigating the ecological and physiological determinants of timing of reproduction in irruptive migrants, desert dwellers, urban opportunists, and aseasonal tropical birds

Stress response in birds:

  1. Studying the behavioral and physiological response of birds to natural / human-induced stressors.

Social construction and use of urban nature:

  1. What determines biodiversity in residential backyards and urban parks? How do human construction of urban landscapes, and management decisions affect the diversity of birds and other vertebrates occupying urban habitats?

Ecodevelopment in tropical developing countries:

  1. Assessing the effectiveness of integrative conservation-development projects from ecological, social and institutional perspectives.