Nature's teachings

Integration is a key component of my current state of learning—now that I have a PhD, how can I integrate my education and ecological understanding into something both more applied and more wholistic?  In other words, besides my ongoing fieldwork and academic research, what else is ecology good for, and how can it assist my contribution to, and citizenry in, the greater global community? 

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Uncovering a species' past to inform its future

While planning the dissertation work that would ultimately consume the next 6.5 years of my life in graduate school, I learned an intriguing bit of information about the native amphibians of southern California. I was familiar with all of the amphibian species I could find in different habitats in the region, and was surprised to learn that a species—one I had never heard of—was missing, and had been for almost 40 years.

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Saving Salamanders

Conservation biology has long been held as a crisis discipline. We work hard for modest gains, and setbacks are the norm. But every once in awhile, evidence that blood, sweat, and tears expended for the perpetuation of Earth’s biodiversity effects positive change, and that is worth celebrating.

From 2008 to 2015, I worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. During my last year with the agency, and because of my dissertation research on amphibian disease and my years of regulatory experience with an endangered salamander species, I was asked to join a team of agency scientists to write a Lacey Act rule that would list certain salamander species as injurious.

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Summer in the Sierra – Trip #4 – Descent of Autumn

This was my final trip of the summer, and fittingly the season was fading just as my time there was. This week brought on the weather—thunderstorms, blustery winds, and cooler temperatures day and night. The frogs are showing the shift—an adult mountain yellow-legged frog sat on a rock in the stream very near where we saw her last week, but this time flattening herself, trying to warm up in the waning rays of late summer.

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Summer in the Sierra Trip #2: A frog reintroduction, Mt. Lyell salamanders, and effervescent wildflowers

This week, we hiked to the site where my field partner and I will spend our next three 10-day trips. This basin is very different from the last, and about 400 feet lower, with more trees and fewer frogs. Having been hit by the amphibian chytrid fungus, the mountain yellow-legged frog populations here are persisting at a very low level. Frogs are even being flown up to higher fishless lakes in the basin to try to bolster their numbers, and this basin harbors one of those lakes.

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Sierra Nevada Backcountry Trip #1: Frogs, micro botany, and the resurrection of diversity


This was the sound of a coworker's reaction to seeing mountain yellow-legged frogs for the first time. These aren't just any frogs. They live only in these high elevation lakes and have suffered catastrophic losses from non-native fish predation and infectious disease. At a series of lakes that perfectly mirror the craggy, snow-flanked peaks above, we do our restoration work for these frogs.

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