Dr. Christina Davy (PI). Assistant Professor, Carleton University. 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 previously worked as a research scientist with the Government of Ontario, and served as a jurisdictional member of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Christina also serves on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Herpetological Society.
Rachel Dillon (Research Manager). Rachel earned her MSc from Trent University in 2020, investigating the impacts of ophidiomycosis (snake fungal disease) on free-ranging snakes in collaboration with the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative. She then worked for the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, before coming to Carleton to help keep our research projects running smoothly!
Dr. Sean Boyle researches the behavioural and spatial ecology of wildlife at multiple scales and seeks to determine how land-use patterns and species interactions affect species conservation. Sean has experience working with a variety of taxa, but he is especially interested in at-risk reptiles and amphibians.
Dr. Elisa Elizondo has a diverse background in ecology, with expertise in population vital rates, movement ecology, and population genetics. She completed her master’s degree at Louisiana State University and her doctoral degree at the University of Delaware, where her work focused on Webless Migratory Game Birds. Her current work focuses on leveraging Motus technology to track the movements of bats in Ontario with an emphasis on Little Brown Bats.
Dr. Erin Stukenholtz joins us with a wealth of prior bat experience, and is helping to move forward our research on regional migrations and aerial habitat use of temperate, hibernating bats. She is also exploring critical habitat requirements and definitions for bats in our study area.
Tyler Ambeau worked on our reptile and bat field projects during his BSc at Trent University, and completed an undergraduate thesis project exploring shifts in abundance and body size of Fowler’s and American toads. Tyler’s Masters research now focuses on demography and health of spotted turtles. (MSc student, Carleton University)
Sarah Endenburg is collaborating with Drs. Tara Imlay and Greg Mitchell (and an amazing group of project partners) to track barn swallows across a wide geographic range, using the Motus Wildlife Tracking System. She will use these data to explore migration strategies and phenology in a wide-spread aerial insectivore. (MSc student, Carleton University. Co-supervised with Dr. Greg Mitchell)
Lauren Hooton set up the first Motus towers in the network we’re building to study regional migrations of hibernating bats, and has been leading the charge on that research. Lauren’s PhD thesis investigates the impacts of aerial habitat fragmentation and disease on movement ecology and demographic structure of bat populations. (PhD Candidate, Trent University, co-supervised with Dr. Erica Nol)
Claudia Lacroix studies social behaviour and acoustic signaling (vocalizations!) in turtles. She is currently investigating whether hatchling vocalizations facilitate beneficial social interactions such as coordinated nest emergence. (MSc student, University of Toronto. Co-supervised with Dr. Njal Rollinson)
Sara Laursen’s research explores ecological drivers of body size in insectivorous bats. She is also working with the Canadian Wildlife Federation to quantify responses of little brown bats to eviction from building roosts, and to describe the abiotic characteristics of natural and anthropogenic bat roosts. (MSc student, Carleton University).
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)
Eric Maquignaz is collaborating with the Toronto Zoo’s Native Bat Conservation Program, using a large database of acoustic recordings to explore spatial and temporal variation in bat activity across southern Ontario, and across an urban-rural gradient. (MSc student, Carleton University)
Caitlin Menzies is studying sociality and interspecific variation in social behaviour of freshwater turtles, using a long-term dataset from the Wetlands and Reptiles Project. (MSc student, Carleton University, co-supervised with Dr. Roslyn Dakin)
Chloé Pearson is collaborating with the Toronto Zoo’s Native Bat Conservation Program to study movement ecology of an endangered, urban population of northern long-eared bats. (MSc student, Carleton University)
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). Dylan also works as an ecological consultant and environmental educator, and is a key partner in our bat survey collaboration with Dr. Brittany Luby and Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation.
Aidan Wouters is studying biomechanical implications of adaptation to ground-roosting in bats, with a focus on the eastern small-footed bat. She has also supported field work on our Wetlands and Reptiles Project (MSc student, Carleton University; co-supervised with Dr. Jeff Dawson).
Erin Allen first worked with our bat team in summer 2022, and then completed her Honours thesis exploring demographics and movement ecology of an endangered population of five-lined skinks (collaboration with Dr. James Paterson, Ducks Unlimited Canada). She is currently working with the 2023 Wetlands and Reptiles Project team.
Francisco Velasco Figueroa is working on an Honours research thesis in collaboration with Sarah Endenburg and Greg Mitchell (ECCC). Francisco’s research uses stable isotope analysis to explore local movements of bank swallows during molting.
Charlotte Turenne joined us in May as a field research technician. She is currently working with the 2023 Wetlands and Reptiles Project team, and will support our bat research team later this summer.
Past Postdocs and Graduate Students
Dr. Alexandra Anderson. Allie worked as a postdoctoral researcher with us from 2020 – 2021. Her collaborative research on the impacts of wind turbine design on mortality of birds and bats was supported by Birds Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and MITACS. Allie also led the expansion of our network of MOTUS wildlife tracking stations, building on the core stations set up by Lauren Hooton. Allie is currently a quantitative ecologist at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Centre.
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, South Africa, and Costa Rica. Jen is currently pursuing a PhD in Norway, studying landscape ecology of pine martens.
Rachel Dillon (MSc, 2020). Rachel’s MSc investigated the impacts of ophidiomycosis (snake fungal disease) on free-ranging snakes, in collaboration with the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (Trent University, co-supervised by Dr. Jeff Bowman). She then worked for the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks before joining us at Carleton us as our lab manager.
Ryan Holt (MSc, 2022) studied habitat selection of little brown bats in forests through radio telemetry. Key objectives of this work included locating and characterizing tree roosts and using these data to model roost-site selection, to inform long-term management forest habitats in Ontario. (Trent University, co-supervised with Dr. Jeff Bowman). Ryan now works for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
Dr. Nico Muñoz (U Ottawa). Nico is interested in the biological determinants of climate change vulnerability and climate-informed conservation. He joined us from 2022-23 to explore the importance of microrefugia, and how microclimatic buffers against climate change might be explicitly integrated into protected area planning. This project was co-supervised by Dr. Heather Kharouba (University of Ottawa) and Dr. Ilona Naujokaitis-Lewis (Environment and Climate Change Canada).
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).
Laura Scott (MSc, 2022) used behavioural experiments to understand variation in personality and roost-site selection in two species of bat (Trent University, co-supervised with Dr. Jeff Bowman). Laura is now a Forest Biologist with the Canadian Forest Service.
Dr. Verena Sesin (PhD, 2021) designed her PhD to study 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). After graduation, Verena participated in GreenPAC’s Parlimentary Internship for the Environment. She is now an Environmental Risk Assessment Officer for the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
Dr. Karen Vanderwolf (PhD, 2022) explored how bat wings act as a “landscape” for fungal communities, and investigated the role of skin chemistry in bat susceptibility to white-nose syndrome. (Trent University, co-supervised with Dr. Christopher Kyle). Karen is now a Liber Ero Fellow at the University of Waterloo, and coordinating the Canadian Bat Box Project with WCS Canada and the Canadian Wildlife Federation.
Past Undergraduate Students
Daryna Bespalko joined us while completing their undergraduate degree at Odessa I.I. Mechnikov National University in Ukraine. They received a Mitacs Globalink Research Award to support a research internship with our group, co-supervised by Drs. Jennifer Provencher and Jesse Vermaire. Daryna used Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) in the Vermaire lab to analyze samples collected after an experimental addition of microplastics to an agricultural field, to explore the fate of microplastics in agricultural systems.
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 (OTCC), and with the Toronto Zoo’s Adopt-A-Pond program. She is now the Education and Outreach Coordinator for the OTCC.
L. Caden 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. Caden is now pursuing graduate studies in evolutionary biology at Rutgers University.
Samuel Davison is a B.Sc student at Trent University studying Natural Sciences. Sam worked with us in summer 2021, contributing to studies on amphibian skin pH, turtle behaviour, and bat ecology.
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 recently completed his MSc 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 has considerable experience as a wildlife rehabilitator, and she continues to join our field team for a few nights each summer!
Sahar Hemani’s Honours thesis project built on work led by Marshall Ritchie (Macmillan lab), testing how ingestion by mealworms (Tenebrio molitor) affects the size and shape of microplastics. This work sets the stage for a follow-up study of what happens when bats ingest insects that have been consuming microplastics. (Co-supervised by Drs. Heath Macmillan and Jennifer Provencher).
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 (see publication 66). 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.
April Kowalchuk-Reid is a B.Sc student at McGill University, where she is studying Biology and Natural History. April worked with us in summer 2021, supporting several of our reptile, amphibian, and bat field projects.
Anna Kramer completed a Conservation Biology internship with us at Trent in 2019-20, during which she investigated 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 worked with Remus on our 2019 snapping turtle tracking study, and helped out with the rest of the Wetlands and Reptiles Project. She is currently working as a field technician with Ducks Unlimited.
Einstein Nkwonta joined our group as a research assistant in 2020 while he was a BSc student at Trent University. Einstein first worked with Allie to prepare a database of bat mortality at wind turbines for analysis, in collaboration with Birds Canada, and then helped James to fine-tune a gigantic cover-board database from the Wetlands and Reptiles Project. In summer 2021 he worked on our reptile and bat field projects, and in 2022 he completed an undergraduate thesis exploring the effects of water chemistry on skin pH of amphibians.
Ahniia Oliinyk joined us while completing her undergraduate degree at Odessa I.I. Mechnikov National University in Ukraine. She received a Mitacs Globalink Research Award to support a research internship with our group, co-supervised by Drs. Jennifer Provencher and Jesse Vermaire. Ahniia used Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) in the Vermaire lab to study the movement of microplastics through river ecosystems, analysing grizzly bear scat, water samples, and soil samples.
Eden Porter completed her B.Sc. at Trent University. She worked extensively with the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre during that time, and brought her interest in turtles to her undergraduate thesis in 2021-22. Eden used data on turtle hatchling size from the Wetlands and Reptiles Project to explore sexual size dimorphism and parental effects on body size in wild spiny softshells.
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 earned her B.Sc at Trent University, and joined the team for her Conservation Biology Internship in 2020-21. She worked with Varun to quantify growth rates of Typha seedlings under different conditions in one of Verena’s experiments. 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 shark ecology.
Past Research Staff
Lucy Brown, Research biologist, OMNRF. Lucy worked with our team from 2016-2019. She 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.
Lauren Crawshaw, Research Biologist, OMNRF. Lauren joined us in 2020-2021 to take on a study of the distribution and habitat suitability for two species of chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and B. salamandrivorans) in Ontario (72), assist with our bat trapping work, and develop an interactive map of changes in reptile and amphibian occupancy, supporting Dr. James Paterson’s research.
Remus James worked with us on a snapping turtle telemetry study in 2019, and to plan studies on the territoriality and behavioral ecology of snapping turtles. In 2020 he also coordinated the extraction of behavioural data from videos of turtles interacting with fishing equipment, for a collaboration with Drs. Nick Cairns and Grégory Bulté.
Sarah Langer joined our team with 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 (52).
Val Von Zuben, Research Technician, OMNRF. Val coordinated logistics for our team and kept us running smoothly from 2016 – 2021, while we were based in Peterborough with OMNRF. Val led our Eastern Whip-poor-will tagging work in Algonquin Park, supporting Alicia Korpach’s PhD research (73), and led the analyses for our studies on the impacts of environmental change on body size in bats (71).