Research in the Fedy lab examines factors that influence fitness of animal populations at multiple scales-from genes to landscapes. The impetus for most of our research emerges from important conservation issues; however, we also endeavor to answer general ecological questions to improve concepts and theory in ecology and evolution. We focus on questions examining Habitat Selection, Landscape Genetics, Population Trends, and Social Behavior.
Details are provided below on some of the on-going research projects in our lab. Please contact Dr. Fedy if you would like additional information.
Landscape factors influencing functional connectivity for
greater sage-grouse: a range-wide perspective.
We are working as part of a large collaborative to understand genetic connectivity across the entire range of greater sage-grouse. Collaborators include the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, the University of Montana, and 11 state fish and wildlife agencies.
Waterfowl nest success in the Western Boreal Forest:
Does resource development alter predation rates?
Canada’s Western Boreal Forest (WBF) supports 12 – 15 million breeding waterfowl annually and is considered the second most important breeding area in North America. However, changes in habitat in the WBF caused by the development of natural resources may threaten waterfowl carrying capacity. Consequently, quantifying the effect of landscape change on waterfowl population vital rates, such as nest success, is essential to advance conservation planning. We are working in collaboration with Ducks Unlimited Canada to explore top-down hypotheses of system responses and impacts to waterfowl vital rates.
Improving success in habitat restoration for
Non-renewable energy development has played a substantial role in the loss of sagebrush habitat and can exacerbate regional declines of sagebrush obligate species. However, when the energy resources are eventually exhausted sites can be restored. We are assessing the effectiveness of reclamation for avian wildlife within sagebrush ecosystems. Our study sites are in Northeastern Wyoming and represent an ideal experimental gradient of disturbance from undisturbed sites, reclaimed habitats, and active oil and gas development. This work is in collaboration with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Wyoming Reclamation and Restoration Center.
Multiscale patterns of habitat use, spatial ecology and connectivity
for milksnakes across a fragmented region.
A species’ habitat preferences interact with landscape patterns to modulate dispersal and influence population structure and persistence across a landscape. Thus, establishing the link between habitat utilization and population connectedness has strong ecological and conservation importance, but can be challenging for cryptic species. Eastern milksnakes are currently listed as Special Concern in Canada and information suggests that populations surrounding the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) are in decline. Given the extreme and increasing fragmentation of natural habitat across the GTA we are collecting data using several ecological approaches (e.g., radio telemetry, species distribution modelling, landscape genetics) to understand how individual milksnakes utilize habitat in disturbed regions and establish how these patterns scale up to determine regional patterns of connectedness across the GTA. This work is in collaboration with Parks Canada, the Toronto Zoo, and the Toronto Region Conservation Authority.
Population connectivity and landscape genetics of
Wyoming greater sage-grouse.
The identification of demographically independent populations is a fundamental component to managing any wildlife species. Identification of populations and connectivity levels among them can inform the prioritization of habitats for conservation and identify habitat and anthropogenic features that impair the connectivity among populations. This project will identify biologically meaningful Greater Sage-grouse population boundaries in Wyoming and determine the amount of connectivity among those populations, including the location of landscape or anthropogenic features that act as barriers to movement. This research is in collaboration with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and the USGS Molecular Ecology Lab.
Assessing the efficacy of fathead minnows for mosquito
control in Northeastern Wyoming.
West Nile virus (WNv) has become a significant and increasing threat to multiple domestic and wildlife species. Mosquito control is one of the most promising and effective means of controlling the spread of the virus. Current efforts to control mosquito populations generally focus on the use of larvacides. This chemical control option requires extensive human and monetary inputs. Our research investigates the efficacy and sustainability of a potential biological control option, the fathead minnow, for mosquito control in northeast Wyoming. Using a case-control study design, we have released minnows in reservoirs and we are monitoring several important parameters including mosquito larva density and minnow survival. This work is supported by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Wolf Creek Charitable Foundation, and Bighorn Environmental Consultants.
Dynamic occupancy models to predict golden eagle
occupancy through time.
Region-wide habitat based conservation tools are a critical gap for golden eagle conservation in the U.S. Landscapes in the Western U.S. are projected to change drastically, and it is important to understand the mechanisms that influence the occurrence of organisms through time, and changes in occupancy. We are developing multi-state dynamic models to examine how the probability of eagle occurrence changes through time across multiple western states. We are using GIS time-variant predictor variables (e.g. energy development) to predict how the probability of occupancy will change as a result of future habitat changes. This work is lead by a Dr. Fedy’s former student, Dr. Jason Tack.
Raptor Habitat Prioritization in Wyoming.
The conservation of raptors in Wyoming is a concern to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) due to potential declines and impacts. We are modelling habitat selection based on existing raptor and habitat data could predict and map the importance of different habitats. Furthermore, habitat selection modeling could also predict the location of potentially limiting habitats such as roost and nest sites, and foraging areas across the landscape. We are developing a quantitative predictive model of the relationship between available raptor habitat, and raptor habitat use for 4 species in Wyoming: Golden Eagle, Ferruginous Hawk, Northern Harrier, and Prairie Falcon. This research is also lead by Dr. Fedy’s former student, Dr. Jason Tack.