Postdoctoral Research Associate
A230-B Russell Laboratories
Department of Forest & Wildlife Ecology
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI 53706
I am a wildlife ecologist interested in the conservation of globally rare and threatened species. Since 2011, my research interest has focused mostly on understanding how human related alterations to landscape structure may affect community interactions and species survival. Habitat degradation and loss is considered the most pervasive driver of biodiversity decline in the world today. In addition to reducing refugia habitat for vulnerable prey species, changes in habitat structure often reduce usable area thereby increasing potential for competition among sympatric species.
My PhD research examined the role of habitat structure on prey vulnerability, species interactions, and coexistence in grassland ecosystems. The southern Great Plains where I conducted my study supports multiple species of migratory diurnal raptors as either overwintering visitors or stopover migrants. The presence of these raptors using different hunting strategies enhances competition among predators thus complicating prey’s movement through the landscape and potentially exposes vulnerable species to greater predation risk. The juxtaposition of vegetation types further influence overlap in occurrence of different raptors in a way that may enhance risk factors for prey species and resource competition for sympatric species. In my study system, woody encroachment provided an example of increasing complexity with the potential to increase vulnerability and decrease distributions. Knowing that prey species may be able to filter information on perceived predator risk, my study quantified a landscape of fear for vulnerable prey species and the scale of coexistence for sympatric species across different heterogeneity gradients. Overall, my research identified modifications to land cover patches that could reduce interspecific competition among raptors and exposure of prey to unbearable predation pressure.
For my Post-doc, I will be working with several stakeholders to apply principles of landscape ecology to develop effective management strategies relevant for conservation of the California Spotted Owl. Using a combination of ground based assessment and spectral imaging tools, we will quantify broad-scale usable space for Spotted Owls and identify environmental conditions that might work independently or collectively to alter owls’ demography.
Ph.D. (2017) Natural Resource Ecology and Management |Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma
M.S. (2010) Conservation Biology | A.P. Leventis Ornithological Research Institute | University of Jos, Nigeria
B.S. (2006) Zoology | University of Calabar, Nigeria
Atuo, F. A and O’Connell, T. J. (In Review) Superpredator proximity and landscape characteristics alters nest site selection and breeding success of a subordinate predator. Oecologia.
Atuo, F. A and O’Connell, T. J. (2017) The landscape of fear as an emergent property of heterogeneity: contrasting patterns of predation risk in grassland ecosystems. Ecology and Evolution, 7: 4782–4793.
Atuo, F. A. and O’Connell, T. J. (2017) Structural heterogeneity affects raptor assemblages and niche characteristics in mixed-grass ecosystems. Ecosphere 8: e01907.
Atuo, F. A. and O’Connell, T. J. (2017) Spatial heterogeneity and scale-dependent habitat selection for two sympatric raptors in mixed-grass prairie. Ecology and Evolution, 7: 6559–6569.
Atuo, F. A, Ivande, S. T; Wala, Z. J. and O’Connell, T. J. (2016) Current distribution, breeding population and habitat use of the globally threatened Grey-necked Picathartes (Picathartes oreas) in south-east Nigeria; a call for conservation action. Ostrich 87: 101–112.
Atuo, F. A, O’Connell, T. J. and Abanyam, P. U (2015) An assessment of socio-economic drivers of avian body parts trade in West African rainforests. Biological Conservation 191: 614–622.
Atuo, F. A, Ivande, S. T; Wala, Z. J. and O’Connell T.J (2014) Effects of hunting camps on breeding Grey-necked Picathartes (Picathartes oreas) in south-east Nigeria. Oryx 48(3): 460-464.
Atuo, F. A. and Manu, S. A (2013) Territory size and habitat selection of Cinnamon-breasted Rock Bunting (Emberiza tahapisi) in Nigeria. Ostrich 84: 71–78.