My research interests cover a wide range of topics including bioacoustics, animal behaviour, conservation ecology and microbial ecology.
My M.Sc. research focused on understanding and mitigating impacts of wind energy on bats in Manitoba, Canada.
For my PhD work, I am studying the relationship between the microbiome and personality in several wild populations of deer mice and red-backed voles. Current laboratory evidence suggests that the microbiome, the collection of microbes inhabiting a host, may be involved in effecting short- and long-term behavioural changes in some species (including lab mice). The microbiome may therefore have a role in determining host personality. Personality is broadly defined as the collection of behaviours specific to an individual that remain constant through time and across different contexts. Indidviduals from the same species and population can differ on a gradient with respect to their levels of social, exploratory and aggressive behaviours. These differences could also drive interindividual differences in microbiome since bacteria are likely gained through social interaction with conspecifics and the environment. For example, more social individuals likely interact with a greater number of conspecifics which may result in a more divers microbiome. Similarly, more exploratory individuals could come in contact with a greater diversity of habitats and food which could result in a more divers gut microbiome necessary for processing a more diverse diet. My PhD research will provide a better understanding of the complex relationship between personality and the microbiome as well as the role these factors might play in shaping populations.