March 17, 2021 –
Ray has been out in the field capturing pikas and counting birds among other things. Adventure is a word that includes triumphs and mishaps of any fieldwork. She will entertain us with some of the ups and downs of spending time in some of the most fragile and changing ecosystems.
Ray studies and models the dynamics of plant and animal populations, focusing especially on threatened species with fragmented populations. Her long-term project involves research on the American Pika, a species most impacted by alpine climate change. Other recent projects include modeling bird population trends in National Parks of the Pacific Northwest, analyzing how plant community assembly is affected by ecological interactions among species, and modeling the dynamics of plague in prairie dog communities. She emphasizes outreach and education in connection with her research, mentoring students at all levels and acting as a scientific advisor for citizen science projects focused on the American pika, such as the Front Range Pika Project organized by the Denver Zoo and Rocky Mountain Wild.