Rainforests have the greatest biodiversity on the planet and are rapidly disappearing due to human activities. It is difficult to study the underlying ecosystem processes that create the rainforest ecosystem due to this complexity. Because Puerto Rico is an island and islands have reduced biodiversity, Puerto Rican rainforest is not as complex as mainland rainforests. Taking advantage of this reduced rainforest complexity, we examined how herbivory by insects and decomposition by snails affected rainforest nutrient cycling and plant production. In addition, Puerto Rico is subject to hurricanes and we studied how recovery from these disturbances was influenced by the actions of these herbivores and decomposers. Understanding ecosystem processes in a simpler rainforest should help us better understand more complex mainland rainforest.
We studied herbivore feeding behavior of kangaroos, sheep, cattle, and rabbits in arid environments.
I developed optimal foraging behavior models for human hunter-gatherers and these models were applied to understanding archeological patterns of population growth and habitation in North America by Native Americans.
I investigated and modeled herbivore foraging by moose, snowshoe hare, and beaver.