Welcome to the Blair Wolf lab- Our research interests are centered on understanding how the physical environment constrains animal function and how resource systems affect animal performance and distributions. We specialize in taking "physiology into the field" and use "high-tech" natural history (stable isotopes, QMR, respirometry, thermal imaging) to explore how functional traits affect animal performance in extreme environments.
Research is the lab is varied- Kirsten Cruz-McDonnell, has just finished her Masters degree and has documented rapid declines in population size, body condition, and reproductive success with severe drought and rapid warming in Burrowing Owls on Kirtland Air Force Base; Chuck Hayes, a PhD student has been looking at the ecology of Gunnison's prairie dogs and the relative nutritional importance of summer plant growth (C4) compared to winter plant growth and found a strong positive effect of winter-spring forbs (C3) on juvenile recruitment in Gunnison's prairie dogs during a severe drought. Matt Baumann, a recent Masters student examined the use of deuterium isotope ratios from feathers and claws in mammals and birds as a record of elevational distribution and found only a weak relationship between deuterium and elevation in tissues. Brittney Coe, a PhD student in the lab is working in Death Valley - during the summer, no less, and collecting thermoregulatory profiles on small mammals. These data will be used to inform species distribution models under future climate scenarios as part of a new resurvey grant from the National Science Foundation with partners at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz and the San Diego Natural History Museum.
Our "Hot Birds" project supported by the NSF explores how desert birds cope with heat stress on a global scale. Students in the lab, Eric Smith and Bill Talbot are working on heat tolerance and water balance in desert birds. We are collaborating with researchers in the USA (Alex Gerson, U. Mass Amherst; Tom Albright, U. Nevada, Reno), South Africa (Andrew McKechnie, U. Pretoria; Suzy Cunningham, Percy-Fitzpatrick Institute of Ornithology; Ben Smit U. Port Elizabeth) and Australia (Todd McWhorter, U. Adelaide).
For more information on our research and partners explore our web page. I welcome inquiries from creative, highly motivated students with interests in joining the lab as an undergraduate researcher, grad student or postdoc...