Our research interests are always changing and evolving, as they should! Below, we’ve included brief snapshots of topics that represent primary themes in our ongoing research. However, our interests are broad and not limited to just these areas! Visit our publications page for a more comprehensive look at the research we’ve been involved with. Please feel free to reach out if you are interested in learning more.

Biodiversity conservation in a changing climate

Climate change is affecting species and their habitats in ways that alter how we think about conservation. We conduct research that helps uncover the diverse ways wildlife respond to climate change and how we can manage lands to mitigate negative impacts. To do this, we use models that link variation in wildlife population processes (e.g., colonization or extinction dynamics) to environmental conditions under future climate scenarios. Of particular interest is uncovering interactions between effects of climate and land cover on population processes.

Example publications:

Jones, G. M., R. J. Gutiérrez, D. J. Tempel, B. Zuckerberg, M. Z. Peery (2016) Using dynamic occupancy models to inform climate change adaptation strategies for California spotted owlsJournal of Applied Ecology 53: 895-905.

Jones, G. M., A. R. Keyser, A. L. Westerling, W. J. Baldwin, J. J. Keane, S. C. Sawyer, J. D. J. Clare, R. J. Gutiérrez, M. Z. Peery (In press) Forest restoration limits megafires and supports species conservation under climate changeFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

Conservation of forest species in fire-prone ecosystems

Fire is an important agent of change in ecosystems all over the world. However, because of fire suppression, land development, and global warming, humans have changed the nature of how fires burn. Now, in some parts of the world, fires burn bigger and hotter than they used to, and this poses new challenges for both people and for wildlife that are not adapted to these new fire regimes. We conduct research on wildlife responses to fire, and also wildlife responses to forest management actions that are intended to reduce fire severity (e.g., tree thinning) and increase ecosystem resilience.

Example publications:

Jones, G. M., R. J. Gutiérrez, D. J. Tempel, S. A. Whitmore, W. J. Berigan, M. Z. Peery (2016) Megafires: an emerging threat to old-forest speciesFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment 14(6): 300-306.

Andrus, R. A., A. J. Martinez, G. M. Jones, A. J. H. Meddens (2021) Assessing the quality of fire refugia for wildlife habitatForest Ecology and Management 482: 118868.

Applying occupancy estimation and modeling in wildlife conservation

Occupancy modeling is a flexible and powerful approach for making inferences about wildlife populations and their status, trends, and dynamics in space and time. We are interested in understanding how these models are applied (and also how they can be mis-applied) in the context of wildlife conservation and management, how they should be adapted and interpreted within the context of the ecology of animals under study, and how researchers can make inferences from these models that maximizes their usefulness for conservation practitioners.

Example publications:

Berigan, W. J.†, G. M. Jones†, S. A. Whitmore, R. J. Gutiérrez, M. Z. Peery (2019) Cryptic wide-ranging movements lead to upwardly-biased occupancy in a territorial speciesJournal of Applied Ecology 56: 470-480. co-lead authors

Jones, G. M. and M. Z. Peery (2019) Phantom interactions: use odds ratios or risk misinterpreting occupancy modelsThe Condor: Ornithological Applications 121: 1-7.

Mechanisms of wildlife population decline and recovery

A key part of successful species conservation is identifying what factors have led to population declines, and using this information to inform recovery strategies. Often, there are multiple causes of decline that act on populations simultaneously, and it can be tricky to identify which are the most important for halting and reversing declines. We use occupancy and demographic modeling coupled with other emerging tools and technologies to reveal mechanisms of population declines that can inform and improve conservation efforts.

Example publications:

Jones, G. M., J. J. Keane, R. J. Gutiérrez, M. Z. Peery (2018) Declining old-forest species as a legacy of large trees lostDiversity and Distributions 24: 341-351.

Hobart, B. K., G. M. Jones, K. N. Roberts, B. Dotters, S. A. Whitmore, W. J. Berigan, M. G. Raphael, J. J. Keane, R. J. Gutiérrez, M. Z. Peery (2019) Trophic interactions mediate the response of predator populations to habitat changeBiological Conservation 238: 108217.

Movement ecology and resource selection by animals

The way that animals move across landscapes gives us information about what environmental features are important to them. With emerging high-resolution GPS technologies, our ability to discern fine-grained movements by animals can help us better understand their spatial habitat ecology and inform targeted land management for conservation. We use animal movement models (e.g. resource- and step-selection functions) to understand the role of individual variation, landscape configuration, and environmental gradients in mediating resource selection by animals.

Example publications:

Jones, G. M., H. A. Kramer, S. A. Whitmore, W. J. Berigan, D. J. Tempel, C. M. Wood, B. K. Hobart, T. Erker, F. A. Atuo, N. K. Pietrunti, R. Kelsey, R. J. Gutiérrez, M. Z. Peery (2020) Habitat selection by spotted owls after a megafire reflects their adaptation to historical frequent-fire regimes. Landscape Ecology 35: 1199-1213.

Kramer H. A., G. M. Jones, V. R. Kane, B. Bartl-Geller, J. T. Kane, S. A. Whitmore, W. J. Berigan, B. P. Dotters, K. N. Roberts, S. C. Sawyer, J. J. Keane, M. P. North, R. J. Gutiérrez, M. Z. Peery (2021) Elevational gradients strongly mediate habitat selection patterns in a nocturnal predator. Ecosphere 12(5): e03500.

Forest management effects on biodiversity and ecosystem services

An important piece of the global strategy to mitigate the impacts of climate change is a decreased dependence on fossil fuels, and an increased reliance on sustainable energy. Cellulosic biofuels (e.g., fuels derived from plant matter, such as grasses and wood) are expected to play an increasingly important role in the global sustainable energy market, but we don’t yet have a full grasp on the implications of related land-use change for biodiversity and ecosystem services (e.g., water quality). We’re working with Dr. Rob Fletcher and colleagues to figure out how to make bioenergy production in the southeastern US more sustainable for wildlife and ecosystems.

Example publications:

Jones, G. M., B. Brosi, J. M. Evans, I. G. W. Gottlieb, X. Loy, M. M. Núñez‐Regueiro, H. K. Ober, E. Pienaar, R. Pillay, K. Pisarello, L. L. Smith. R. J. Fletcher Jr. (In press) Conserving alpha- and beta-diversity in wood production landscapesConservation Biology.

Jones, G. M., L. L. Smith, I. G. W. Gottlieb, H. K. Ober, B. Brosi, R. J. Fletcher Jr. (2020) Herpetofaunal responses to woody bioenergy intensification in a global biodiversity hotspot. Forest Ecology and Management 477: 118493.