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Andrew Crosby
Michigan State University

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, camping, fishing, and hiking on most of our family vacations. My father was an educator and an amateur naturalist and so as a child I gained an affinity for both ecology and education. I imagined a career where I could spend time learning about, and promoting the protection of, our natural environment. Therefore, when I discovered the discipline of wildlife biology I was immediately drawn to it.

I graduated from Northland College in Ashland, WI in 2005 with a major in natural resources specializing in fisheries and wildlife ecology. Between 2005 and 2008 I worked seasonal wildlife technician jobs. These included doing surveys for carnivores in the Sierra Nevada of California, using scat detection dogs to monitor wildlife in the oil sands region of Alberta, tracking coyotes and other carnivores in the Wyoming Rockies, and monitoring birds at future wind farm sites in Texas.

In 2008, I entered Oklahoma State University to undertake a large project studying the effects of a private-land habitat restoration program for northern bobwhite quail. The research pushed me to think outside the normal parameters of experimental design because of the obstacles I encountered. This project also gave me a greater understanding of the important role that private landowners play in the conservation of natural resources. I graduated from Oklahoma State with a Master of Science in Wildlife Ecology and Management in May of 2012.

My desire to continue to do research that directly informs wildlife management decisions led me to the Quantitative Wildlife Laboratory at Michigan State, working with Dr. William Porter. This lab offers exactly what I was looking for in a PhD program because it combines rigorous science with cutting-edge analysis techniques to address questions that directly impact wildlife conservation. The knowledge I gain here will be invaluable in my further research career, whether that be in academia, working for a resource management agency, or in private industry.

Andrew Crosby

Landscape-level effects of forest biofuels development on wildlife in the northern forest region

My research assesses the potential effects of a proposed development of a cellulosic biofuels industry in the eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan on wildlife. This project examines wildlife habitat at the landscape scale, focusing on the composition and arrangement of forest types and ages. Through landscape analysis, we can assess the current status of wildlife species and predict the likely impacts of increased harvest of the forest over the next 20-100 years on these species. To do this we are using habitat models, land-cover data, and wildlife survey records to map the distribution of habitat conditions and wildlife abundance. We will then use LANDIS II, a landscape-level forest growth model. LANDIS II creates maps of future forest conditions in response to growth, disturbances and management activities. We will use these future forest conditions to to forecast change in habitat conditions and evaluate the change likely to occur in the distribution and abundance of important wildlife species.

The species targeted as important in northern Michigan are American black bear (Ursus americanus), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus), fisher (Martes pennanti), American marten (Martes americana), and the breeding bird community. All of the target species chosen have both social and economic value within the region and can act as indicator species for changes in ecological conditions. Breeding birds in particular are excellent for tracking changes in site conditions because they cover a wide range of ecological niches and respond quickly to disturbances. Fisher and marten are furbearing species that depend on mature forests and so can reflect a dramatic decrease in this habitat type. Bear, deer, and grouse are economically and socially important species that respond to timber harvesting activities.

Cellulosic biofuels are seen by many people as an alternative, sustainable energy source and a boost to forest-based economies throughout North America. The tools created through this research will be applicable to the Great Lakes region. The northern forest region of the eastern and central United States and Canada has significant potential for the development of a biofuels industry. Ultimately, the purpose of this research is to help us conserve wildlife resources.

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