My research concerns the forest-floor ecosystem. Some ecologists call this system the “soil,” but it also includes leaf litter and other sorts of plant debris. I am particularly interested in the shrews, mammals that rule over this system as top predators, and earthworms, which consume and breakdown plant material more effectively than other decomposers.
From the perspective of basic science, I am interested in the influence that members of these two taxa have on other species. From an applied perspective, I am interested in how people influence this system through acid rain, which is caused by air pollution, introduction of new species, removal of logs, and other interventions.
During my time at Colgate, this research program has been funded by two grants from the National Science Foundation. The first grant funded work on the invasion of the Northeast by European buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) and how animals influence the invasion and are affected by it. The second grant funded work on how acid rain in the Adirondacks has affected processes and species at the forest floor. I continue to collect and analyze data from this effort. Research regarding the basic ecology of shrews has resulted in publications in Oikos and elsewhere.