I arrived in the McLoughlin Lab in May of 2014. As a member of the Sable Island horse team, I am taking part in fieldwork and research that will contribute to the long-term study of this unique horse population.
As a graduate student, my academic interests cover a broad set of topics in animal ecology and behaviour. Currently, I am most interested in understanding the factors that generate phenotypic differences among individuals, both in terms of behaviour, morphology, and life-history strategies; on this topic, I find the role of the environment particularly intriguing. Recently, there has been a growing interest in the role that social environments can play in shaping individual phenotypes. Studies on a variety of mammals show that social experiences, particularly early in development, can induce pronounced and long-lasting changes to individual behaviour and life-histories. From a population ecological perspective, these environmental effects matter, as certain social factors can play an important role in shaping population dynamics.
For my graduate work, I will be focusing on the role that environmental factors play in the Sable Island horse population. Particular goals include: (i) identifying the various modes and persistence of environmental effects, (ii) how environmental experiences are integrated over the lifespan, (iii) how various environmental effects influence population dynamics, and (iv) why (from an evolutionary standpoint) individual development is responsive to environmental conditions.
The long-term study of Sable Island’s horses has already given us a unique glimpse into the ecology of these animals, and it is my hope that a focus on sociality will add an additional dimension to how we understand this population.
I began my post-secondary education with practical training at Fleming College in Ontario. Following this diploma program, I went on to obtain a bachelor of science degree at Trent University. In autumn 2010, I began graduate at the University of Calgary where I studied maternal effects in red deer. After completing my Masters degree, I spent a year working in the environmental consulting industry before joining the McLoughlin lab in May of 2014.
I have had a longstanding interest in animal ecology that grew out of my basic affinity for the natural world. I developed a keen interest in nature through my upbringing on a farm in rural Ontario. As a kid, I could imagine nothing better than spending a day exploring the woodlands, meadows, or streams that were within biking distance of my home. Today, I maintain the same enthusiasm for nature and the outdoors through my passion for bowhunting. In addition to hunting, my partner and I enjoy spending our free time hiking, fly fishing and camping.