Studies include long-term field experiments on small mammals in boreal forest communities in northern Ontario, controlled experiments in Lakehead University's novel Habitron, very long-term studies estimating the fitness of white-footed mice occupying forest and fencerow habitats in southern Ontario, and creative laboratory studies on short-lived organisms. Our habitat research is focused on the development, tests, and applications of isodars and adaptive landscapes. We are especially interested in theory that integrates evolutionary understanding with population and community dynamics.
White-footed mouse life history has been continuously monitored with nest boxes since 1981. Most of this work has centered on developing and testing theories of the state-dependent evolution of litter size. The research reflects our view 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 use 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.
A long-term objective has been the use of 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. Field work includes studies on the habitat-dependent coexistence of artic rodents in Nunavut as well as experiments in Lakehead University's Habitron.
Projects emphasize analyses of readily available data. Examples include using human habitat selection
to forecast global conservation strategies, assessments of a global tragedy of the commons, and the intereconnections
among human migration, population growth and climate change. Future work will apply our
progress in evolutionary ecology to predict the implications of human activities on
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