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Lab Members

Paul M. Lukacs, Assistant Professor, Quantitative Wildlife Ecology Paul M. Lukacs / photo credit Scott M. Gende

My research interests focus on development and application of quantitative methods to ecological problems, primarily in wildlife population dynamics.  I strive to connect ecological theory to wildlife management problems and in doing so improve wildlife management and test ecological theory.  My work crosses a broad spectrum of taxa from rare seabirds to hunted ungulates.  My current projects include ungulate population dynamics modeling and population ecology of Kittlitz’s murrelets in Icy Bay, AK.

Prior to joining UM, I served as Biometrician for the Colorado Parks and Wildlife for more than five years.  In that role I provided statistical support to both research and management biologists.  I developed an understanding of the types of quantitative support wildlife management agencies need and how to convey those ideas to wildlife managers.  I also work closely with wildlife management agencies to develop computer software that brings the forefront of quantitative methods to the fingertips of wildlife managers.

In my free time, I enjoy hunting, fishing, hiking and skiing.  There’s nothing like a flushing grouse or rising trout to help me think more clearly about complicated statistical problems.

Josh Nowak, Post-doctoral ResearcherJosh Nowak

My research interests lie in the intersection of ecological theory, quantitative ecology and wildlife management.  I am interested in application and development of novel quantitative methods that draw on ecological theory to enhance the quantity and quality of information available to managers.  My graduate studies focused on modeling elk population dynamics in the face of data scarcity and the link between habitat selection and individual performance.  I am currently collaborating with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Panthera to develop spatial population models for mountain lions in Montana.  This project will produce an interactive software tool managers may use to proactively manage lion populations.

Sara H. Williams, Ph. D. Student

Sara WilliamsI am interested mammalian ecology and conservation. My research efforts have focused on the use of modeling techniques to obtain quantitative ecological data and how this knowledge can inform conservation and management of wildlife populations. I am especially interested in the ways that mammals are affected by human actions and development, and how to mitigate harmful consequences of these interactions. I completed a master’s degree at the University of Vermont, during which I investigated the occurrence of meso-carnivores in forest fragments situated in an agricultural landscape. In the Lukacs lab, I am working on a research project funded by the National Park Service that examines humpback whale and cruise ship encounters in Glacier Bay National Park.

Anne L. Schaefer, M.S. StudentAnne L. Schaefer

My main research interests are in avian conservation and ecology. I am principally interested in studying species-habitat interactions and their effect on avian population dynamics in order to implement effective management practices. My present research is focused on studying the factors influencing the distribution and abundance of the Kittlitz’s murrelet (Brachyramphus brevirostris) in Icy Bay, Alaska, specifically investigating the relationship between murrelet and ice floe distributions. This project is in collaboration with Michelle Kissling and the USFWS.  Before attending UM, I obtained a B.Sc. in Organismal Biology and a B.A. in Spanish from South Dakota State University.

Recent Graduates

Margaret M. Riordan, M.S. May 2013  Margaret M. Riordan

I am very broadly interested in ecology, evolution, and conservation, specifically within the avian taxa.  My current graduate research focuses on evaluating the origin of the observed male biased sex ratio in the mountain plover (Charadrius montanus) population.  I am concentrating on the early portion of the species life cycle, both the egg and chick stage, to evaluate possible factors contributing to variation in survival between males and females.  This study will help provide a better understanding of when a biased sex ratio is arising and possibly why it is occurring in this population.  Results will assist in directing management focus for conservation.   This project is a collaboration with Dr. Victoria Dreitz and is funded by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.