Current Members

Jill Heaton, Principle Investigator

Ken Nussear, Adjunct Professor

Ph.D. EECB, University of Nevada, Reno                                                                              B.S. Zoology, Colorado State University

Research: My research explores factors influencing the biology of the plants and animals that may limit their distributions including: the range of acceptable temperatures (and other tolerance related attributes), the thermoregulatory behavior of the species, the locomotory ability of the species at each stage of its existence, shelter requirements, nutritional requirements, etc. This may create limitations when they are constrained within a limited range of existing available habitat. The results of this interaction may be expressed by a reduction of available habitat to habitat that can actually be used by the species. This distinction may be critical when constructing conservation schemes for rare and endangered species. Allocation of habitat may be of no benefit if it is not within the parameters set by the combination of the tolerances of the animal and its interaction with the environment. A basic understanding of each of these may help to better assess useable habitat which can be applied to conservation strategies. I use many GIS based approaches to model species habitat in light of these constraints, and with changes in habitat quality, and changes in climate.

Kirsten Dutcher, Ph.D. Student

dutcher desertology

Me&TortM.S. Biology, California State University, Long Beach, 2009  B.S. Zoology, Oregon State University, 1998

Research: Desert tortoise connectivity in solar development zones. I am interested in studying fragmentation of previously continuous landscapes caused by large-scale developments; specifically addressing habitat use, behavioral contacts, and genetic relationships.


Brendan Lawrence, M.S. Student

BLawrenceB.S. Earth Science, Montana State University, Bozeman, 2016

Research Interests: I am interested in Geographic Information Systems and Science with a focus on analysis, modeling, and big data. Additionally, I like to work with remote sensing data and have a long-standing love of mesoscale meteorology.