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John L. Koprowski
Area of Expertise:Conservation biology of terrestrial vertebrates, behavioral and population ecology, social behavior, forest management, urban wildlife, threatened and endangered species, ecology and conservation of squirrels, climate change
My laboratory group works to integrate basic ecological research into conservation and management decision making. We prefer to investigate basic ecological questions that have the potential to be applied to real-world problems in the conservation of biodiversity. As a result, many of our studies focus on model species that are threatened or endangered or ecosystems that are rare or undergoing rapid change. We enjoy collaborative work on a local, regional, national, and international scale and continuously seek cooperators.
Evolution of Social and Mating Systems:
We examine the mating strategies and the role of conflict between the sexes in a variety of species from carnivores such as coatis to tree and ground squirrels. Recent efforts have focused on the mating system of round-tailed ground squirrels in Casa Grande Ruins National Monument and Abert's squirrels on Mt. Graham in southeastern Arizona.
Invasive species are considered one of the major threats to biodiversity and are oft implicated in the decline of species of conservation concern. We investigate the potential and realized impacts of non-native species on native species and ecosystems using descriptive and experimental field methods and computer modeling approaches. Recent efforts have focused on the influence of introduced eastern gray squirrels on endemic Mearns's squirrels in Baja California, the spread of introduced Mexican red-bellied squirrels in the Florida Keys and their impact on a threatened palm, and the impacts of introduced Abert's squirrels on native red and Arizona gray squirrels in the sky islands of the Madrean Archipelago.
Active Conservation and Management Efforts:
We assist local, state, and federal agencies in active management efforts to promote the use of science in the management decision-making process. Recent efforts have focused on evaluating the suitability of areas for black-tailed prairie dog reintroduction using existing relictual populations in Sonora, Mexico for reference. We provided advice for the National Park Service in dealing with introduced Mexican red-bellied squirrels in Biscayne National Park. Recently, we have assessed the impacts of forest thinning on endangered Mt. Graham red squirrels and plan to evaluate road impacts on this species as well in conjunction with a planned road improvement within the limited range of this sky-island endemic. Movements of mountain lions and skunks in the urban and wildland-urban interface have provided insight into the impacts of urbanization on gene flow.
Impacts of Forest Change on Wildlife:
Forests have changed dramatically during recent decades due to fire suppression, insect infestations, unnatural fire regimes, overharvest, invasive species, and climate change. Such changes likely have profound impacts on the wildlife species that inhabit them. We have examine the rate of change and impacts on forest wildlife, in particular potential indicator species. Examples include assessing the response of endangered Mt. Graham red squirrels to insect damage induced in part by an introduced aphid, the differential response of Mexican fox, Abert's, and red squirrels to fire, and fire run-off impacts on bat communities within Sabino Canyon Recreation Area near Tucson.
Ecology of Sensitive, Threatened, and Endangered Species:
A number of our studies use species of conservation concern as model species to maximize the scientific and conservation values of our work. Recent work has investigated black-tailed prairie dogs, Mearns's squirrels, white-nosed coatis, several bat species, Mexican fox squirrels, Arizona gray squirrels, and Mt. Graham red squirrels.
We have initiated climate change research to examine how such changes may impact rare and isolated mammals and montane island mammalian faunas using remote microclimate monitoring, high resolution imagery, and population modeling. Our work has documented that very small changes in temperature can influence cone opening in the middens of endangered Mt. Graham red squirrels and we are embarking on long-term monitoring efforts, experimental manipulations, and computer modeling exercises to assess the long-term consequences on this potential keystone species in isolated montane forests.