I am a Ph.D. student at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, and part of the Earth to Ocean research group in the Biological Sciences department at SFU. I am interested in how we can use life-history data to both forecast declines and the potential for recovery within a population or a species. I’m taking a demographic modeling approach to elucidate specific points within the life-cycle of a population that are particularly vulnerable to decline, or on the flip side, can be targeted for improvement through conservation measures. My work covers a wide spectrum of current conservation issues, from how to recover a population on the brink of extirpation, to how climate change will affect currently stable populations of montane amphibians. The common thread that ties my research together is providing a strong, quantitative framework for decision-making (present and future) that is grounded in the biology of a species.
Since 2010, I have worked with the B.C. Oregon spotted frog recovery team to evaluate the tradeoffs between various recovery strategies for this highly imperiled species. Specifically, I have focused on the potential of two common population supplementation strategies, head-starting and captive breeding, to reduce the extinction probability of a declining population. Using demographic data I have collected over the past three years on Oregon spotted frogs (Rana pretiosa) in B.C., I am developing models that include both a biological and economic component to recovery, with the ultimate goal of providing the recovery team with a suite of viable options to stem the decline of the species in Canada.
In addition to my endangered species work, in 2013 I jumped on board with Maureen Ryan and Wendy to explore the effects of climate change on montane amphibians in the Pacific Northwest. I am working on a thread of this large, collaborative project with the goal of forecasting the response of Cascades frogs (Rana cascadae) to changes in climatic regime. I am now collecting baseline data on landscape-level larval mortality of R. cascadae induced by pond-drying. These data will be used along with long-term demographic data to “add up” the effects of climate change on different life-history stages of this species to determine the overall response of the species across its distribution.
Kissel A.M., Palen W.J., Govindarajulu P., Bishop C.A. 2014. Quantifying ecological life support: the biological efficacy of two alternative supplementation strategies for imperiled amphibian populations. Conservation Letters. doi: 10.1111/conl.12093
Popescu V.D., Kissel A.M., Pearson M.M., Palen W.J., Govindarajulu P., Bishop C.A. 2013. Habitat selection by Oregon spotted frogs, Rana pretiosa, in British Columbia. Herpetolgical Conservation Biology. 8(3):688-706.
Corn P.S., Muths E., Kissel A.M., Scherer R.D.. 2011. Breeding chorus indices are weakly related to estimated abundance of Boreal chorus frogs. Copeia 2011:3, 365-371 PDF