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My research interest are diverse and below are some past and current research themes:

  • Value of urban green spaces in supporting ecological communities
  • Landscape connectivity
  • Chick condition and reproductive success of Great Tits along an urban gradient
  • Species movement in human dominated landscapes
  • Exurban development

Value of urban green spaces in supporting ecological communities

Urbanization transforms natural habitats into fragmented landscapes, leaving urban green spaces as sole remaining habitats. Urban green spaces not only sustain a diverse spectrum of organisms, but also provide important ecosystem services including improving human well-being. We are interested in understanding the ecological value of different types of urban green spaces and elucidate ways to enhance birds and bat diversity. We focus on the city of Vienna as a case study due to its high proportion of green areas per city surface. Understanding the ecological value of urban green spaces will increase our ability to plan, manage, and mitigate impacts of urbanization on ecological communities.

Collaborator: Alexander Bruckner

Landscape connectivity

In today’s highly modified landscapes, landscape connectivity is a key issue for biological conservation. Connectivity is especially important when habitat is fragmented and determines which proportion of total area is available and can be reached by an individual. The distribution of habitat patches and its availability is usually altered by urban development. We are interested in evaluating whether remnant habitat patches in urban areas are connected for mobile organisms such as birds and bats. The results will identify high priority areas for protection and corridors for the maintenance of landscape connectivity as part of a green infrastructure network.

Chick condition and reproductive success of great tits along an urban gradient

Impacts of urbanization on wildlife are well documented, but whether urban landscapes provide also suitable environments for animal populations that suffer from loss of their natural habitats is still poorly known. We aim to assess the effects of urbanization on fitness of a common passerine (Great Tits) by estimating chick condition and reproductive success at both local and landscape scales. We will provide new insights about management opportunities in urban areas.

Collaborator: Sabine Hille

Animal movement in human dominated landscapes  

One pressing environmental challenge is determining how widespread habitat loss and fragmentation affect animal populations. Understanding how these changes are affecting movement abilities and dispersal trajectories of organisms is critical. Certain biological features could allow organisms to persist in remnant habitats or cross matrices, even if they typically do not move across anthropogenic matrices. We are interested in evaluating moving trajectories of bird species when challenged to cross a pasture matrix to return to their home territories.

Collaborators: Luis Miguel Renjifo, Swen Renner

Exurban development

Low-density residential development is one of the fastest growing forms of land-use change in the United States. Although forest-dependent species have been found particularly sensitive to low housing densities, it is unclear how the spatial distribution of houses affects forest birds. We aim to assess forest bird response to changes in the spatial pattern of exurban development to provide guidance for planning future development.

Collaborator: Todd Lookingbill