People

Dr. Christina Davy (PI). Trent University / Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Christina’s research integrates disease ecology, behavioural ecology, and conservation genomics to inform the recovery of species at risk, especially bats, amphibians and reptiles. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Herpetological Society and as a jurisdictional member of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).

Postdoctoral Fellows

Dr. Alexandra Anderson, MITACS Postdoctoral Fellow, Trent University. Allie’s postdoctoral research is a collaborative project with Birds Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada. She is exploring the impacts of wind turbine design on mortality of birds and bats.

Graduate Students

Ryan Holt studies habitat selection in little brown bats (MSc student, Trent University, co-supervised with Dr Jeff Bowman)

Lauren Hooton is studying the impacts of aerial habitat fragmentation on population structure and behaviour of bats. (PhD Candidate, Trent University, co-supervised with Dr. Erica Nol)

Remus James is studying territoriality and behavioral ecology of snapping turtles. He is currently using trapping data from the Wetlands and Reptiles Project to look for clues about turtle sociality. (PhD student, Trent University)

Alicia Korpach

Alicia Korpach is tracking long-distance migrations and breeding habitat use of Eastern Whip-poor-will to understand how they are adjusting their habitat use in response to anthropogenic landscape and airscape modification, including increased artificial light at night. (PhD Candidate, University of Manitoba, co-supervised with Dr. Kevin Fraser)

Laura Scott uses behavioural experiments to understand variation in habitat selection and personality in bats. (MSc student, Trent University, co-supervised with Dr. Jeff Bowman)

Karen Vanderwolf is interested in understanding how bat wings act as a “landscape” for fungal communities, and the role of skin chemistry in bat susceptibility to white-nose syndrome. (PhD Candidate, Trent University, co-supervised with Dr. Christopher Kyle)

Dylan White is studying three-dimensional habitat use by bats, working to better understand and predict how bats respond to aerial habitat fragmentation. (MSc student, Trent University)

Undergraduate students

Tyler Ambeau is a B.Sc student at Trent, and is working with us for summer 2021 on a range of reptile and bat field projects. Tyler joins our group with extensive previous field experience with reptiles, and he plans to do an undergraduate thesis project with us in fall 2021.

April Kowalchuk-Reid is a B.Sc student B.Sc student at McGill University, where she is studying Biology and Natural History. April has joined us for summer 2021 to work on a range of reptile and bat field projects. She is looking forward to building her skills in data analysis as well!

Samuel Davison is a B.Sc student at Trent University studying Natural Sciences. Sam has extensive previous field experience, and this summer he is contributing to current studies on amphibian skin pH, and turtle behaviour.

Einstein Nkwonta is a B.Sc student at Trent, and has worked as a research assistant in our group since spring of 2020. Einstein first worked with Allie to prepare a database of bat mortality at wind turbines for analysis, in collaboration with Birds Canada. Since then, he has helped James to fine-tune a gigantic cover-board database from the Wetlands and Reptiles Project. This summer he is analyzing some of those data, and contributing to a variety of field projects. Einstein plans to do an undergraduate thesis with us in fall 2021.

Research staff – OMNRF

Val Von Zuben, Research Technician, OMNRF. Val leads our Eastern Whip-poor-will tagging work in Algonquin Park, and is currently working on a study investigating the impacts of food abundance on fitness in bats.

Lauren Crawshaw, Biologist, OMNRF. Lauren holds a Masters of Public Health in epidemiology, and has worked on waterfowl and rabies projects with OMNRF. She is currently working on a study of the distribution and habitat suitability for two species of chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and B. salamandrivorans) in Ontario.

Alumni

Past Postdocs and Graduate Students

Siow Yan Jennifer Angoh (MSc, 2019). Jen studied the impacts of invasive wetland plants on habitat use by spotted and Blanding’s turtles. (Trent University, co-supervised with Dr. Joanna Freeland). She has also worked on a diverse range of wildlife and community projects in Mauritius (her home), South Africa, and Costa Rica. Jen is currently pursuing a PhD in Norway, studying landscape ecology of pine martens.

Rachel Dillon (MSc, 2020) investigated the impacts of ophidiomycosis (snake fungal disease) on free-ranging snakes, in collaboration with the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative. (Trent University, co-supervised with Dr. Jeff Bowman). She is now working for the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.

Dr. James Paterson worked with us as a Liber Ero and MITACS Postdoctoral Fellow at Trent University. James used field surveys and a large citizen science database managed by Ontario Nature to understand the effects of habitat fragmentation and road mortality on endangered reptiles and amphibians. He is now a Research Scientist with Ducks Unlimited Canada – and we are thrilled that he continues to collaborate with us!

Verena Sesin (PhD, 2021) studied the impacts of pesticide application on non-target wetland communities. Her experiments tested inter- and intra-species variation in the effects of herbicides such as glyphosate on invasive and native macrophytes, and on at-risk aquatic plants. (Trent University, co-supervised with Dr. Joanna Freeland)

Past Undergraduate Students

Varun Biddanda earned his B.Sc. at Trent, where he joined us in fall 2020 for his Conservation Biology Internship. He first worked with Verena and Emily to quantify growth rates in Typha seedlings under varying conditions. From Jan. – July 2021, Varun contributed to a collaborative herptile road mortality study, using data from the Wetlands and Reptiles Project to explore whether local abundance of herptiles predict road mortality rates.

Lisa Browning worked as a summer research technician on our bat team in 2018 and 2019, and she and Allie also conducted a study of nocturnal behavior in spotted and Blanding’s turtles. Since then, she worked as a field technician with the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre, and she is currently employed by the Toronto Zoo.

Lim Comsa joined our 2019 summer research team while completing their undergraduate degree in Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto, with a minor in Biology. They used pattern recognition software to identify foxsnakes by their tail patterns, to link neonate capture records to subsequent captures of mature snakes. They are now pursuing graduate studies in evolutionary biology at Rutgers University.

Dana Driscoll conducted an honours thesis project with us in 2020-21, during her B.Sc. at Trent University. She used data from the Wetlands and Reptiles Project to explore how road mortality of common reptile and amphibian species varies through time.

Malcolm Fenech first got hooked on sea turtles, then joined us for summer 2019 to monitor freshwater turtles. He also used camera traps to test hypotheses about nesting aggregation in snapping turtles (co-supervised by Dr. Njal Rollinson at the University of Toronto). Malcolm is currently a graduate student at the University of Ottawa.

Kassidy Harder joined us over several summers as a field technician with our bat team during her studies at Fleming College and Trent University, and helped us gently and efficiently process and release hundreds of bats. She currently works as a wildlife rehabilitator.

Allie Hjort completed a BSc.Hon thesis with us at Trent (co-supervised by Dr. Jay Fitzsimmons), reviewing the effects of roads on bats. After graduating she joined us as a summer research technician in 2019, and she and Lisa conducted a study of nocturnal behavior in spotted and Blanding’s turtles. She then worked for the OMNRF raccoon rabies control program and the Toronto Region Conservation Authority. Allie is now studying shorebird ecology as a graduate student at Mt. Allison University.

Anna Kramer completed a Conservation Biology internship with us at Trent in 2019-20, during which she investigate methods for isolating plastics from bat guano, and contributed to a review of how genetic data are used to delimit conservation units in Canada. She is currently working for an ecological consulting firm, tracking caribou and other large mammals.

Jen Larkin first joined us in 2018 to look at the effects of herbicides on zooplankton (co-supervised by Dr. Joanna Freeland). After graduating with her BSc from Trent, she led our 2019 snapping turtle tracking study, also helping out with the rest of the Wetlands and Reptiles Project. She is currently working as a field technician with Ducks Unlimited.

Kyle Ritchie contributed to our study of bat spatial genetics as an undergraduate student at Trent. After graduating, he worked on the Wetlands and Reptiles Project in 2014, and then came back for a summer of snake tracking in 2017 before heading off to do a Masters degree in Manitoba. Kyle currently works as an ecologist in Nunavut.

Jovana Stosic completed an undergraduate honours thesis at Trent 2019-20 (co-supervised by Dr. Linda Rutledge), using DNA barcoding to identify insect prey in bat guano. She is currently enrolled in the Genetic Counseling program at Cardiff University.

Meghan Ward worked alongside James Paterson in the summer of 2020. Though her time as a research assistant was brief (because she was offered a job with Parks Canada!), she helped us to analyze five-lined skink morphometric data and ImageJ analysis. She is now working towards a Masters degree at Trent University.

Abagail Warren completed a Conservation Biology internship with us in 2019, during which she helped trap Eastern Whip-poor-will for a movement ecology study. She is now pursuing a Masters degree at Laurentian University.

Emily Yeung is earned her B.Sc at Trent University, and joined the team for her Conservation Biology Internship in 2020-21. She worked with Varun and Verena to quantify growth rates of Typha seedlings under different conditions. She also collaborated with us on a project analyzing spatial variation in herptile abundance under cover-boards. She is currently a graduate student at Dalhousie University, where she is studying sharks in Jeff Hutching’s lab.

Past Research Staff

Lucy Brown is a research biologist with OMNRF, and worked with our team from 2016-2019. Lucy supported our eastern whip-poor-will and spotted turtle surveys, and led an analysis of spot patterns and scute abnormalities on the shells of spotted turtles.

Sarah Langer holds a BSc. and MSc. in Forensic Science, and a stunning amount of expertise on blowflies. Luckily, we were able to persuade her to try out slightly larger species (although we respect that she remains faithful to forensic entomology). Sarah provided expert care to hatchling turtles on the Wetlands and Reptiles Project, and contributed heroically to wrangling our large nest/hatchling database. While collecting data about eggs that did not hatch, Sarah documented a previously unrecognized developmental abnormality, and led a publication describing it (52).

Previous Wetlands And Reptiles Project Staff (2008-2017)