Studies include long-term field experiments on small mammals in boreal forest communities in northern Ontario, very long-term studies estimating the fitness of white-footed mice occupying forest and fencerow habitats in southern Ontario, and shorter term studies on small mammals occupying prairie-badland transitions in prairie landscapes in southern Alberta. Other studies include habitat selection of brook trout occupying flat and riffle habitats in Newfoundland. Currently, much of our habitat research is conducted in the Lakehead University Habitron, a facility designed explicitly for testing habitat-selection theory. Our habitat research is focused on the development, tests, and applications of isodar theory with a goal to integrate the evolution of habitat selection with the spatial regulation of populations.
We have monitored white-footed mouse life history continuously with nest boxes since 1981. Most of this work has centered on theories of state-dependent evolution of litter size and their tests. The research reflects our convictions that 1, life histories evolve as adaptive responses to environmental heterogeneity, and 2, that the resulting life history can be used to gain insights into other evolutionary strategies such as the evolution of habitat selection and its implications to abundance and distribution.
We are using Joel Brown's invention of seed trays to experimentally address issues of density-dependent population regulation and habitat selection in both forested and prairie ecosystems. We see two main advantages to this research program. 1. Patterns of density and distribution among habitats are intricately related to the patch-use decisions of individual foragers. 2. Seed trays allow us to conduct replicated factorial experiments at the spatial and temporal scales that are important to individuals.
One of our long-term objectives is to use evolutionary theories to understand the coexistence of species. This component involves the integration of theories of density-dependent habitat selection with those of competitive coexistence. Examples include field work habitat-dependent coexistence of artic rodents in Nunavut as well as collaborative research on heathland mammals in Australia.
Projects to date have emphasized summaries of existing data. Future work will apply our
progress in evolutionary ecology to predict the implications of human activities on