Christopher A. Searcy

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR

29 Cox Science Building

Phone: (305) 284-3973
E-mail: casearcy@bio.miami.edu

Lab Website


EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

  • 2016-present, Assistant Professor, University of Miami, Biology Department
    2013-2015, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Biology, University of Toronto, Mississauga, ON
  • 2011-2013, Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis, CA
  • 2005-2011, Ph.D. in Population Biology, University of California Davis
    2001-2005, A.B. in Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
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GRANTS & AWARDS

  • 2016-2020, US Fish and Wildlife Service (PIs: Searcy, CA and Shaffer, HB), “Terrestrial habitat use by endangered Santa Barbara tiger salamanders”
  • 2014-2016, University of Toronto Mississauga (PIs: Searcy, CA and McCauley, SJ), “Food web assembly in experimental ponds”
    2010-2013  US Department of the Interior (PIs: Searcy, CA and Shaffer, HB), “Adult movement behavior and long term trends in the population dynamics of the central population of the California tiger salamander”
    2010-2011, University of California Davis, Dissertation Year Fellowship
    2009-2010, University of California Davis, NSF Match-year Fellowship
    2008-2009, California Department of Fish and Game (PIs: Searcy, CA and Sellheim, KL), “Conserving biodiversity in the endangered species assemblage of California vernal pools”
    2007-2011, Solano County Water Agency (PIs: Searcy, CA and Shaffer, HB), “Identification of critical habitat for California tiger salamanders in Solano County”
    2006-2010, Center for Population Biology, Research Grant
    2006-2009, National Science Foundation, Graduate Student Fellowship
    2006-2008, University of California Natural Reserve System, Mildred E. Mathias Graduate Student Research Grant
    2005-2006, University of California Davis, Dean’s Fellowship

AREAS OF FOCUS

  • Conservation Biology, Community Ecology, Landscape Ecology, Herpetology


RESEARCH INTERESTS

My lab is engaged in conservation ecology, the use of ecological principles to answer questions related to basic ecological theory, while also informing conservation practices and management of threatened or endangered species.

I am particularly interested in metacommunities (species assemblages that coexist across a landscape comprised of distinct habitat patches). It is assumed that many species can be modeled as classic metapopulations, which has clear implications for how we should manage them at the landscape scale in order to ensure their long-term persistence. However, how well actual populations fit the classic metapopulation model is highly dependent upon many factors such as dispersal rates between habitat patches and the level of demographic synchrony between individual populations.

My lab is engaged in collecting detailed data on both demography and dispersal from wild populations in order to improve our understanding of the mechanisms that allow them to persist at the landscape scale. We are also interested in niche partitioning and ecological tradeoffs that allow multiple species to coexist in the metacommunity framework. Finally, we strive to use this information to inform applied conservation practices, such as calculating mitigation credits, evaluating taxon substitutes, and predicting the effects of climate change on range shifts.

I have primarily used pond-breeding amphibians and invertebrates for my investigations due to the clear delineation of patch boundaries in these systems. However, I plan to expand into other systems, such as the diverse communities of both native and invasive reptiles found in South Florida.


TEACHING INTERESTS

My goal as an instructor is to help students follow the scientific process from its beginning (asking interesting questions), through the development of appropriate experimental designs to test relevant hypotheses, to using rigorous statistical methods to analyze the results. I believe that getting students into laboratory and field settings where they can observe actual organisms, and thus develop questions about them, is a critical step in this process. I also believe that an early exposure to the breadth of statistical analyzes used in ecology is key in enabling students to develop experimental designs capable of answering their own questions.

I will be teaching Biometry/Advanced Biostatistics in the Fall (cross-listed for upper-level undergraduates and graduate students) and Conservation Biology (for undergraduates) in the Spring.

 


SELECTED PUBLICATIONS

  • Searcy CA and Shaffer HB (2016) Do ecological niche models accurately identify climatic determinants of species ranges? The American Naturalist 187: 423-435.
  • Searcy CA, Rollins HB, and Shaffer HB (2016) Ecological equivalency as a tool for endangered species management. Ecological Applications 26: 94-103
    Searcy CA, Snaas, H, and Shaffer HB (2015) Determinants of size at metamorphosis in an endangered amphibian and their projected effects on population stability.  Oikos 124: 724-731.
    Searcy CA and Shaffer HB (2014) Field validation supports novel niche modeling strategies in a cryptic endangered amphibian. Ecography 37: 983-992.
    Searcy CA, Gray LN, Trenham PC, and Shaffer HB (2014)  Delayed life history effects, multi-level selection, and evolutionary tradeoffs in the California tiger salamander.  Ecology 95: 68-77.
    Searcy CA, Gabbai-Saldate E, and Shaffer HB (2013) Microhabitat use and migration distance of an endangered grassland amphibian. Biological Conservation 158: 80-87.

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