My engagement at the interface between ecology and policy has developed over the last decade while studying rare and endangered species in the context of management and restoration. Upon completing a law degree focused on environmental and natural resources law, I sought a Ph.D. program to combine my background in ecology and environmental policy — the Global Linkages of Biology Environment and Society (GLOBES) NSF-IGERT fellowship program at the University of Notre Dame. To inform recovery of threatened and endangered species and stream restoration, I contribute knowledge in the field of ecology through an interdisciplinary approach that integrates methods from ecology, history, and law.
Chapter 2 describes a study of the Namekagon River, WI, including a review of the river’s history, temperature monitoring, and management options in the context of existing law and policy. We find that river temperatures would not exclude brook trout from surviving in the main stem of the Namekagon River. A long-term monitoring of the fish community response in Juday Creek, IN is reported in Chapter 3. We discover that non-native brown trout have been replaced by native bass as the top predator of the fish community. Assisted colonization for endangered species is analyzed by a case study of the Mitchell’s satyr butterfly in Chapter 4. The butterfly example helps show the legal challenges for moving endangered animals outside their historic range under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Chapter 5 addresses the illegal and legal trade of rare and endangered plants. We discover that 49 out of 753 listed plants were available for purchase in interstate commerce via the Internet, but only 10% of sellers had the required permits.
My contribution to knowledge in the field of ecology is my approach of combining methods and techniques from multiple disciplines to the extent that they become core components of my research. This approach can be used as an example of interdisciplinary work that is relevant to informing environmental policy and ecosystem restoration efforts.