Early in my career, my research emphasized questions regarding how vital rates and life-history characteristics interact with landscape characteristics to influence waterfowl habitat selection and population dynamics. As I pursued this area of research, I began to appreciate how factors other than landscape characteristics such as predation and competition influenced avian habitat selection, leading to questions associated with theories in community ecology. I also recognized these research questions are most efficiently addressed when incorporating species with more diverse life history characteristics into the research leading me to incorporate passerines as study organisms. My research activities now include broader questions of community ecology by incorporating concepts of foraging theory, life history theory, and habitat selection to study the influence of biotic and abiotic factors on multi-scale avian community structure.
As a researcher, I feel strongly that the results of my research should advance our basic ecological understanding while having direct management applications. Or conversely, applied research should be tied to sound ecological theory. Fortunately, questions in community ecology often allow for a strong link between basic and applied research. For example, the goal of wildlife managers and conservation biologists is typically the management of vegetation (often termed habitat) in a way that is beneficial to an individual or suite of taxa. Thus, research needed to fill information gaps of wildlife managers and conservation biologists often leads to research on the development of wildlife communities across various vegetation communities at a variety of scales. Because of the applied aspect of my research and because environmental characteristics are often confounded, I frequently collaborate with personnel from federal and state agencies and NGOs to develop experimental manipulations or adaptive management approaches to my research.