Biochemical Dynamics of Food Webs
My current research focuses on consumer-resource interactions and their effects on food web dynamics. I am using a plant-snowshoe hare study system to answer questions of intraspecific variability in body chemical composition and how this, in turn, affects landscape use and trophic web bioenergetics. The first goal of my work is to describe how an individual’s development influences its nutritional requirements, by modifying its body chemical composition. I will then combine this information with data on the availability and quality of resources to model individual space use decisions. This will then lead me to study modes of biomass and energy transfer in the limiting environment of Newfoundland’s Boreal forests. To address these questions, I am using a multi-disciplinary approach that combines Ecological Stoichiometry — the study of how the nutrient content of organisms shapes their ecology — with Spatial Ecology and Wildlife Biology.
This study is part of a larger, long-term research project lead by the Terrestrial Ecology Research Group at Memorial University, which aims at teasing apart the effects of forestry and logging on the nutrient cycle of the Boreal forest — the largest ecosystem in the World. In addition to furthering our understanding of the dynamics of this environment and of the ecology of the species inhabiting it, results from this project will also be instrumental in informing a wide range of human activities — from logging practices to wildlife management and conservation policies. By providing an in-depth look into what drives foraging and habitat preferences of snowshoe hares, my work will improve our understanding of the ecology of this keystone species, as well as produce valuable knowledge that could inform future hunting, forestry and conservation practices.