I am interested in population
ecology and a broad array of conservation issues from the biology of rare and
endangered species to the impact of forestry practices on populations,
communities and ecosystems.
research interests include reproduction, social organization and movement,
especially dispersal. These
topics, within a habitat mosaic at the level of the landscape are central to
understanding population structure.
Dispersal is of special concern as it affects both the dynamics of
population density as well as population genetics.
In the recent past I used microtine rodents as
model systems; however, I developed increasingly severe allergies to rodents
and this forced me to find an alternate system for investigation. I now use the forked fungus beetle, Bolitotherus cornutusFomes
fomentarius, Ganoderma applanatum, and Ganoderma tsugae. The beetle lives up to 4 years and has
low fecundity. During the summer
breeding season (June to August) a female lays approximately 20 eggs on the
surface of a sporocarp. The larvae
tunnel through the sporocarp to feed, while the adults feed on the
underside. Both adults and young
survive the winter within the sporocarps.
Males have pronotal horns, making it easy to sex individuals in the
field. Individuals measure about
10 mm in length, and are harmlessly and permanently marked with enamel
paint. Sporocarps last for up to
10 years, and are thus a potential resource for several generations of beetles.
patches can be discretely defined at several spatial scales. A sporocarp can be considered the grain
size for the beetle and is the smallest unit of habitat. A bole of dead wood supporting several
sporocarps I define as the patch.
The beetles easily and frequently move among the sporocarps within a
patch. Patches may be more or less
isolated. Although not necessarily
discrete, larger scales can be defined based on boles of dead wood supporting
sporocarps separated by increasing distances, e.g. patches within a forest
stand or within a forest fragment.
the past the population of forked fungus beetles was defined as the individuals
occupying the patch. This
restricted definition of a population led to conclude that the forked fungus
beetle had a non-equilibrium population genetic structure. One of the exciting findings from my
research has been the understanding of what constitutes a population and the
consequences of landscape structure on the population. Panzer
(Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae). This beetle is an ideal
model species. Its habitat consists solely of the sporocarps of the bracket fungus.