I am broadly interested in the interactive effects of biotic and abiotic perturbations on ectotherms (fish, reptiles, amphibians). Specifically, my graduate work addressed the effects of pesticides on amphibians exposed to the pathogen Batracochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). Through direct overspray, runoff, and spraydrift, pesticides are contaminating aquatic environments, many of which have been found to contain Bd-infected amphibians. My research aimed to test the effects of pesticides on Bd, both within and outside of amphibian hosts, to better understand the possible pathways through with disease- and/or contaminant-mediated amphibian declines occur.
Currently I am working with Dr. James Moore to determine the role of agricultural contamination in predicting disease prevalence and severity in turtle populations in western Arkansas. This project is a large-scale undertaking that investigates how land use affects wild populations. Our goal is to take the data from this long-term study and use it to inform landowners and conservation managers as to the potential effects of agriculture on wildlife populations with the hopes of working with diverse stakeholders to protect wildlife.
I am also working with Denita Weeks and Jerad Henson to learn the role that waterfowl may play in disease transmission of amphibian and reptile diseases. Previous work has shown that pathogens such as Bd can persist on feathers and feet scales of waterfowl in laboratory settings. We are currently combing field surveys and laboratory studies to further explore this question.