[RACHEL WALSH]

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RESEARCH DESCRIPTION

My broad areas of interest are behavioral ecology, conservation biology, community ecology, and global change biology.  My current research focuses on examining elevational range shifts in chipmunks in Yosemite over the past hundred years.  This work is related to the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology’s Grinnell Resurvey Project (http://mvz.berkeley.edu/Grinnell/index.html), an ongoing effort to document changes in California fauna over time.  The specific goal of my project is to explore why my two study species have exhibited dramatically different range shift patterns-- Tamias alpinus showed a marked upwards contraction in elevational range that tracks changes in climate, whereas Tamias speciosus expanded slightly at its upper and lower elevational limits and became more abundant at many sites.  I will investigate the role of microhabitat characteristics, temperature, diet, and interspecific interactions in explaining this difference, and will use my results to evaluate the relative importance of habitat variables versus biotic interactions in shaping patterns of range shifts in each of my study species.  My work will make an important contribution towards understanding how aspects of species’ biology influence responses to climate change.