At the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, I am working on the Pan African Programme (PanAf project) with Prof. Christophe Boesch & Dr. Hjalmar Kühl. This project aims to understand the evolutionary and ecological drivers that have generated the remarkable spectrum of behavioral and cultural diversity observed in chimpanzee populations across Africa. A total of 40 chimpanzee research sites are being monitored with standardized methods and measures, including camera traps for assessing local chimpanzee density, demographic and social structure, isotope analysis to assess hunting behavior and nutritional status, genetics, and a wide spectrum of ecological data collection related to plant, insect and prey resource availability.
My research in California focuses on long-term demographic, ecological, and genetic monitoring of wildlife to better understand how populations respond and adapt to environmental change. My primary field site is the Quail Ridge Reserve, which supports a complex patchwork of native oak woodland and chaparral habitats, and abundant populations of woodrats (Neotoma fuscipes).
With the help of collaborators and field interns, we are monitoring the spatial ecology and dispersal patterns of woodrats, using RFID tags and an array of stationary RFID readers. In addition, I work with students on projects that address gaps in our knowledge of basic natural history at the reserve (e.g., woodrat diet preferences; carnivore activity patterns and abundance; quantification of environmental buffering of woodrat dens). In 2014, we began a camera trap monitoring project on gray foxes at the reserve, to better understand their abundance and activity patterns. In addition, our camera traps capture a wide range of species at the reserve. Click here to see a collection of our camera trap photos.
I am also working with the reserve on the testing of QRAAT, a new automated animal telemetry system that will enable continuous automated tracking of woodrats, gray fox, and other wildlife at the reserve.