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Dr. Dan Thornton's Mammal Spatial Ecology and Conservation Lab


Students interested in joining the lab should send a letter of interest to Dr. Thornton (, outlining your research interests and goals, and how they fit within the type of work that is conducted in this lab. Please also include a CV with relevant information (e.g., GPA/GRE scores).



Meghan is using newly developed field and statistical techniques to assess mule and white-tailed deer density and habitat use in Colville National Forest (northeastern Washington) using camera traps. Results from this work will be used to inform forest management practices in Colville National Forest, develop large-scale/long-term monitoring techniques for deer in heavily forested environments, and test hypotheses regarding niche segregation of mule and white-tailed deer.


Peter Olsoy: Peter Olsoy is working on a PhD project using remote sensing and GIS to examine the scales that wildlife select and use habitat. Evaluating habitat quality, and predicting the consequences of habitat change, requires identifying habitat features that influence risks of starvation and predation. He is using terrestrial LiDAR and unmanned aerial vehicles to map structural and dietary quality of sagebrush habitat for pygmy rabbits (Brachylagus idahoensis) and sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). Further analysis of animal movement will explore how scale influences selection.



Lucy is examining the impacts of hunting on Neotropical carnivores and other mammals in the Maya Biosphere Reserve of northern Guatemala. Lucy is also using camera traps to generate indices of large mammal community health at large-scales, which can be linked to disturbances like land cover and hunting. Lucy is collaborating with the Wildlife Conservation Society to implement her research.

Michelle Peziol, MS

Michelle is studying the influence of puma carcasses on nutrient cycling in the Grand Tetons, as part of work conducted with the Panthera Teton Cougar Project. She plans to try and scale-up nutrient changes seen in the vicinity of carcasses to understanding the impact of carcasses on the larger landscape.



Paul Jensen, MS

Paul is studying snowshoe hare densities in several areas of central and western Washington. Paul is testing various techniques for determining hare densities, including camera-traps, pellet counts, and live-trapping. Paul will take data on hare density and occupancy and link that data to remotely sensed LIDAR images to try and generate landscape scale predictive models of abundance.


Katie Van, MS (graduated May 2015): Thesis title: Species distribution modeling of high-elevation pine species to examine potential impacts of climate change.

Arthur Scully, MS (graduated May 2016): Thesis title: Influence of biotic interactions on Canada lynx distribution along their southern range edge.

Kyle Ebenhoch, MS (graduated Fall 2017): Thesis title: Comparing population vital rates of resident and translocated greater sage-grouse on the Yakima Training Center, Yakima, WA.

Landon Charlo, MS (graduated Summer 2018): Thesis title: Influence of artificial canopy gaps on wildlife and understory in young coastal temperate coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest