Our lab conducts work in multiple areas of population and community ecology. Many projects in the lab are focused on issues in conservation biology, but we are also interested in life history theory, population dynamics, and the role of spatial structure and community interactions in shaping ecological dynamics.
Most importantly, the members of the lab focus on different questions, taxonomic groups, and ecoystems, most of them not directly linked to Dan's own study systems. Past students have worked on topics as diverse as the disturbance ecology of riparian plants, raptor-rodent interactions, honey bee-bumble bee competition, parasitic plant ecology, exotic tree diseases, and life histories of ancient trees. All members of the lab tend to pursue side-projects in addition to their dissertation work.
Dan moved to the Environmental Studies program at CU Boulder in 2012, which is where the lab now resides. However, we have lab members not only here, but also through EBIO at CU (Chris Steenbock) and also in the University of Wyoming Program in Ecology (Reilly Dibner and Doug Keinath).
After a year long collaborative project at CU Boulder between the Computer Science Department, the Environmental Studies program, and INSTAAR, lab member Nathalie Chardon recently launched the Luminous ID app. This app serves as an alpine plant field guide, and can recognize the alpine cushion plant Silene acaulis. The field guide currently consists of flowering plants occurring on Niwot Ridge at CU's Mountain Research Station, and the filtering function allows users to quickly narrow down a list of possible species. The identification algorithm encoded within the app immediately tells users if they've taken a picture of S. acaulis, and this information is uploaded to a server along with GPS coordinates of the user's location. As S. acaulis is a common alpine species found throughout the northern hemisphere, this will be incredibly useful in mapping the species' widespread distribution. Coupled with climate and topographical data, the data generated from this citizen science project will be invaluable in answering questions about the distributional constraints on this species.