Ecological interactions at the intersection of spatial ecology, global change, and behavioral ecology.

Savannah Bartel (PhD Student)

As an undergraduate doing mentored research in the tallgrass prairies of Wisconsin, I developed a passion for conducting experiments across large spatial scales to capture variation in species interactions and responses to human activities. For my graduate work in the Orrock Lab, I have been working in the southeastern US to understand how human activities in both the past and present generate spatial variation in species interactions and their outcomes, with a focus on mammalian foraging behavior. I’m specifically interested in the longleaf-pine woodland ecosystem, which is a critically endangered ecosystem and provides essential habitat to some endangered wildlife species. Longleaf-pine woodlands have the potential to be biodiversity hotspots because of their historically diverse understory plant communities. Since these woodlands host a suite of mammals that play potentially important roles for the dispersal and persistence of plants, I study a broad range of mammalian predators and prey to understand how their behavior shapes plant communities. I am particularly interested in how past agricultural land use modifies the effects of contemporary disturbances on seed-granivore, plant-herbivore, and predator-prey interactions and determines the strength of trophic cascades. I am also interested in how human activities that change patch geometry, like the implementation of conservation corridors, affect mammalian species interactions and foraging decisions. I aim to conduct research that satisfies my inherent curiosity about the natural world, is broadly informative to science’s understanding of how ecosystems operate, and can be applied to solve contemporary conservation problems.

Visit my professional website for more details

bartel2 (at)