Ph.D., Professor, D. G. Raveling Chair of Waterfowl Biology
Office: 1079 Academic Surge
Phone: (530) 754-0145
Avian ecology; waterfowl; management & conservation; population ecology; animal behavior; conservation genetics; wetland Ecology, conservation and management of waterfowl & wetlands; behavioral ecology; population dynamics; molecular ecology
The central goal of my research and teaching program is to link fundamental principles in animal behavior and population ecology with applied issues in waterfowl & wetland management and conservation. As the holder of the Dennis G. Raveling Endowed Chair in Waterfowl Biology, my program focuses specifically on two areas: behavioral and population ecology of birds, particularly waterfowl, and waterfowl management and conservation in the agricultural landscape. My students and I have studied numerous species of ducks and geese (mallards, wood ducks, northern pintail, Barrow's and common goldeneye, Steller's eider, cackling geese, white-fronted geese, trumpeter swans, Orinoco geese and black-headed ducks) at study sites ranging from Alaska to Argentina. My current research focuses on evaluating management and conservation of moist-soil wetland habitats, determining the factors limiting population size and production of breeding waterfowl (mallards and wood ducks) in California, and linking population and ecologi cal theory to wildlife management and conservation. We use a combination of experimental and observational field studies, molecular genetic techniques in the lab, and population and agent-based modeling approaches in our research. I have been heavily involved in recent assessments and revisions of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP).
Education and Experience:
- Ph.D. (1989) University of British Columbia
- Assistant/Associate Professor, University of Toronto (1988-1995)
- Assistant/Associate/Full Professor, UC Davis (1995-present)
- Long-term studies of Wood Ducks and Mallards in California and Black-headed Ducks in Argentina We seek to understand the factors that shape reproductive strategies of precocial birds such as waterfowl. More recently, we have become keenly interested in how individual behavior impacts population dynamics. Our studies offer new insight into the role that behavioral ecology can play in addressing management and conservation issues. We are using new technology including PIT tags implanted in all individuals in multiple populations and RFID readers on all nest boxes. This will allow us to track survival, movement and nesting behavior of every individual throughout their lives. Additionally, our project includes a large education effort, engaging up to 100 undergraduate interns each year! We are also working with the California Waterfowl Association to implement a new education program (Walking With Wood Ducks) designed for upper-level high school students to learn about ecology, evolution and wildlife biology using on-site field activities and classroom presentations.
- Focus on the importance and value of agricultural lands to waterfowl and wetland-dependent wildlife in California. These include: (1) research on ricelands as reconciled ecosystems - a multi-faceted effort to evaluate the value of rice agriculture to sustaining CA waterbird populations and to assess the impacts of changing land practices and ag-economics; (2) evaluation of the availability of food for waterfowl in the Central Valley during winter; (3) analyses of moist soil management techniques to maximize the value of managed wetlands for wildlife; and (4) continuation of a 20+ year study of the nesting ecology of Mallards and other waterfowl in the Suisun Marsh, an area where waterfowl abundance has declined markedly over the past 2 decades.
- WFC 100 - Field Methods in Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology. Offered every Spring quarter.
- WFC 101/101L - Field Research in Wildlife Ecology. Offered Fall quarter in even numbered years.
- WFC 111 - Biology and Conservation of Wild Birds. Offered every Fall quarter.
- WFC 111L - Laboratory in Biology and Conservation of Wild Birds. Offered every Fall quarter.
- WFC 136 - Ecology of Waterfowl and Game Birds. Offered Winter quarter in even numbered years.