I am currently a Ph.D. student at the University of New Hampshire. My broad research interests are in the ecology and conservation of amphibians and reptiles. My dissertation research is focused on the role of terrestrial, woodland salamanders in ecosystem functions. Terrestrial salamanders of the genus Plethodon can be incredibly abundant in forest ecosystems. In many eastern US forests they are the most abundant vertebrate and can makeup twice the biomass of all the breeding forest birds. As abundant predators of forest floor invertebrates, salamanders have the potential to affect ecosystem processes through alteration of the detrital food web and through direct nutrient cycling. I am specifically testing how the removal of salamanders from forest plots affects nitrogen mineralization rates, leaf litter decomposition rates, and oak seedling growth and survival. Additionally, I am examining how salamanders affect other top detrital predators including spiders, centipedes, and carabid beetles. These intraguild predators are likely competing for resources and their roles in the food web and ecosystem may be altered in the absence of salamanders. Given the global decline of amphibians, it is important to understand how amphibians contribute to ecosystems services and what we're losing. This knowledge can help to inform and prioritize conservation and management decisions.
310 Nesmith Hall
Department of Natural Resources
University of New Hampshire
Durham, NH 03824