Adam Ahlers - P.I.
Adam Ahlers is an Associate Professor and applied ecologist in the Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources at Kansas State University (KSU). He received his Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) in 2015. His research is focused on understanding how wildlife populations are impacted by environmental change. To this end, Adam has conducted studies that have investigated how survival, space use, and population distributions of various wildlife species are affected by landscape change. He also teaches courses at KSU that focus on the management of wildlife populations and their habitats. Adam is very active in The Wildlife Society and American Society of Mammalogists. In his spare time, he loves exploring Earth with his wife and two daughters or hunting and fishing in wild places.
Colleen Piper - M.S. student (2019 - present)
Colleen is interested in many aspects of carnivore ecology and wildlife management. She will be using multiple years of occupancy data to uncover how landscape changes (e.g., agriculture, energy development) and precipitation affect the spatial distribution of American badgers (Taxidea taxus) in short-grass prairie ecosystems. Her study area covers the entire western third of Kansas, USA, and includes almost 400 independent sampling sites. Colleen received her B.S. degree in Fisheries and Wildlife from The University of Georgia in 2018. While at UGA, Colleen was the treasurer (2015-2016) and president (2016-2018) of the student chapter of The Wildlife Society.
Caleb Bomske - Ph.D. student (2018 - present)
Caleb is interested in how population demographics of wetland species are affected by landscape composition and configuration. He is using occupancy surveys and mark-recapture techniques to understand how upland landscapes can influence habitat occupancy and abundance dynamics of muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus) in the Kansas Flint Hills ecosystem. He is also conducting experimental movement trials to better understand how landscape composition can influence dispersal decisions and movement paths of muskrats in upland areas. Caleb received his B.S. in Biology from Pensacola Christian College and M.S. in Biology from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. His thesis work focused on understanding how anuran species richness is influenced by local-scale wetland characteristics.
Ty Werdel - Ph.D. student (2017 - present)
Ty is conducting a large-scale project aimed at understanding factors that affect the spatial distribution of swift fox (Vulpes velox) along the eastern edge of their geographic distribution. His work is focused in the western half of Kansas. This region is characterized by short-grass prairie habitats interspersed with row-crop agriculture. Prairie habitats in this region are subject to varying management techniques (e.g., patch-burn grazing, cattle rotation) and he will also be assessing the effects of prairie management on swift fox habitat occupancy dynamics. Ty received his B.S. in Rangeland Management (option in Rangeland Wildlife Management) from Chadron State College and his M.S. in Wildlife Sciences from South Dakota State University.
Zachary Porterfield (2016 - 2018)
Zach is currently pursuing a B.S. degree in Wildlife and Outdoor Management at Kansas State University. He is interested in how accurate waterfowl hunters are at identifying their harvested waterfowl species. Strict waterfowl harvest limits are imposed on some species based on observed abundance trends and harvest quotas. If the ability to identify these species is not accurate, some hunters may over harvest particular species. However, this potential bias in harvest reporting has not been rigorously evaluated. Zach's work will help waterfowl managers identify species-specific biases if they do exist.
Justin Patterson (2016 - 2018)
Justin is working on his B.S. degree in Wildlife and Outdoor Enterprise Management at Kansas State University. His work is currently supporting our large-scale research project in Voyageurs National Park. He is interested in how encroaching T. x glauca populations, and their subsequent management, affect the diversity and abundance of native crayfish occurring in wetlands in northern Minnesota, USA. Justin will be evaluating pre- and post-management wetland sites to assess how the abundance and diversity of crayfish respond to large-scale T. x glauca removal efforts.
Ben Matykiewicz - M.S. student (2018 - 2020)
Ben is interested in how wetland biodiversity is impacted by various management techniques used to control the spread of invasive-hybrid cattails (T. x glauca). His work was focused in Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota. Current cattail management in this region includes the use of large floating barges with rotating chopping blades (i.e., Swamp Devil) to remove cattails. This technique is costly and relatively invasive. Enhancing muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) population abundances may be a way to leverage a native biocontrol to set-back T. x glauca expansions. Ben specifically evaluated survival and post-translocation spatial ecology of muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus) to assess if translocation would be a viable management technique. He translocated muskrats into treatment sites to enhance muskrat densities and monitored the subsequent effects on cattail expansions and changes in native biodiversity. Ben received his B.S. in Wildlife Management (with minor in Wetlands Ecology) from Bemidji State University and an M.S. degree in Wildlife and Outdoor Enterprise Management from Kansas State University.
Max Larreur - M.S. student (2015 - 2018)
Max quantified the impacts of invasive-hybrid cattails (T. x glauca) on the spatial distribution of semiaquatic mammals (muskrats [Ondatra zibethicus], mink [Neovison vison], and otter [Lontra canadensis]) in lacustrine ecosystems in northern Minnesota, USA. His field work was focused in Voyageurs National Park where he worked closely with park biologists to collect data for his thesis. Max's research will be used to inform cattail management across the Midwest and could provide insight into how expanding T. x glauca populations affect native biodiversity in wetlands across North America. Max received his B.A. degree in Biology from Franklin College in Franklin, Indiana and his M.S. degree in Wildlife and Outdoor Enterprise Management from Kansas State University. His thesis work is published in Landscape Ecology.
Kyle Wait - M.S. (2015 - 2017)
Kyle is interested in how land-use change structures carnivore communities. He used camera traps positioned along urban-rural gradients to investigate how urban land use affected the spatial distribution of carnivores in the last remaining tall-grass prairie in North America. He was also interested in how coyotes (Canis latrans), the apex predator in the region, influenced habitat occupancy dynamics of mesocarnivores along urban rural gradients. Kyle's work was in partnership with the Urban Wildlife Information Network (Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, IL; http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2017/03/23/creation-of-a-national-urban-wildlife-monitoring-network-helps-build-wildlife-friendly-cities/). Kyle received his B.S. and M.S. degree in Wildlife and Outdoor Enterprise Management from Kansas State University. His thesis work is published in Journal of Wildlife Management and Journal of Mammalogy.
Spencer Wesche - Undergraduate Researcher (2015 - 2017)
Unfortunately, Spencer has never attended Kansas State University. She was an undergraduate student from Franklin College in Indiana and worked on our invasive-hybrid cattail project in Voyageurs National Park as a technician for my graduate student, Max. While working on Max's project, Spencer completed her own research project investigating how common loon habitat selection is affected by expanding invasive-hybrid cattail (T. x glauca) populations. She presented her research at the TWS meeting in Raleigh, NC and she published this work in the Wildlife Society Bulletin. Spencer graduated from Franklin College with a B.A. in Biology and is now a conservation officer in Idaho.
Weiqiang Zhi - Undergraduate Researcher (2015 - 2016)
Weiqiang was interested in how preferred habitat associations of Earth's mammals factored into species-specific extinction risks. Specifically, he was investigating relative changes in extinction risks for semiaquatic mammals in relation to terrestrial and marine mammals (while controlling for mean body sizes). He used IUCN data to address these questions and presented his work at the Central Plains Society of Mammalogists annual meeting. Weiqiang recently graduated from Kansas State University with a B.S. in Statistics.
Michelle Lefave - Undergraduate Researcher (2015 - 2016)
Michelle was investigating how canid (e.g., coyote, red fox, and gray fox) harvest data can be used to infer relative population changes. She was using ~30 years of data from Illinois, USA to determine if responses in red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) harvest was related to increases in coyote (Canis latrans) populations during this time. This project is now in the manuscript phase and on it's way to a peer-reviewed journal editorial board. Michelle has since graduated from Kansas State University with a B.S. in Wildlife and Outdoor Enterprise Management.