Research Assistant and Lab Manager
Research interests and background:
I grew up here in southern Wisconsin and for as long as I can remember I have loved animals and enjoyed being outdoors and seeing wildlife. I started out at UW-Madison working on a project examining the effects of climate change on snowshoe hare populations and their range in Wisconsin. While working on this project, I fell in love with wildlife science and research. My current interests include climate change science, landscape ecology, and geographic information systems. I also am a passionate supporter of the citizen science movement. It is my personal belief that including people in our scientific research will lead to a better relationship and more trust of scientific research overall. I plan to include citizen science as much as possible in all of my future research endeavors.. For this reason, I am currently studying squirrels, the beloved critter of our backyards and one of the most successful urban species.
My research will center around the melanistic, or black morph, of the eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis). Historical accounts show that around 150 years ago, many more eastern gray squirrels were melanistic. At that time, old growth forests were much more common and provided shadowy refuges for melanistic squirrels. Some research has suggested that now melanistic squirrels tend to be found only in urban communities, where the shadows from buildings and trees provide them a similar advantage over lighter-colored squirrels. In order to test this hypothesis, we will be studying known populations of melanistic squirrels around Wisconsin and the east coast and comparing the size of each melanistic population relative to the gray morph population, the size of the urban/suburban community, and the detection probabilities associated with these areas. I am also interested in determining whether or not the eastern gray squirrel is sensitive to human development. In southern Wisconsin, our landscape consists mainly of vast agricultural lands interspersed with forest and urban areas, providing us an ideal location to test for this sensitivity.
Are you interested in participating in our research? We are using SquirrelMapper, an already existing citizen science program that makes it easy to document observational squirrel data. It is fast, easy, and free to sign up for SquirrelMapper and begin adding your squirrel sightings. You can never have too much data and we could really use your help! You can sign up here:
Have any questions? Shoot me an email at: ajkrueger4[at]wisc[dot]edu.
You can view my LinkedIn profile here: