Elise Larsen, who received an ECWG Exploration and Field Research Grant in 2010, reported on her work studying changes in the Mount St. Helens bird community following the catastrophic eruption of 1980 at the April 16, 2011 Cosmos Club dinner. She is a PhD degree candidate at the University of Maryland, working in the Fagan Lab.
Bill Fagan, the Lab’s head and major professor for Larsen’s research, described the work of his lab, which includes spatial ecology, with an exploration of how landscape patchiness can influence population and community dynamics. The goal is to understand how spatial effects influence the assembly, collapse, and functioning of ecological systems.
Fagan and his students have conducted field work in the Eastern Steppes of Mongolia, the Antarctic Peninsula, and the starkly beautiful Pumice Plains of Mt. St. Helens, Washington. The research conducted by Dr. Fagan’s team helps to solve real-world conservation problems in the context of ecological theory.
Each April the ECWG invites young explorers who have received one of our student grants to report on their field research. Dr. Fagan’s students have received ECWG awards over the years, including Christina Kennedy and Sara Zeigler, our 2009 student speakers.
Larsen’s research involves field studies and models to study how humans and natural disturbances can affect animal population and community dynamics. Elise has previously studied how the MidAtlantic Bird community responded to urbanization and has worked in the Antarctic Peninsula region to survey penguin and seabird populations.