Elise F. Zipkin

Assistant Professor

Ph.D., University of Maryland, 2012

219A Natural Science Building
Office Telephone: 517-884-8039

Lab Website

Quantitative Ecology

My research focuses on elucidating the effects of landscape heterogeneity and climate on the distribution and demographics of species. To explore these relationships, I develop and employ hierarchical statistical and mathematical models.  Combining empirical data with innovative quantitative methods helps to answer questions such as: how do land-use changes co-influence habitat and populations; how does climate-induced habitat change impact the distribution of species and communities; and what actions can mitigate declines in species abundances? I work on a range of basic and applied problems and a variety of taxa including birds, amphibians, mammals, and insects.  

Impacts of climate on population abundance:  As climate changes, it is increasingly important to understand not only how species respond to weather conditions but also the temporal and spatial scales that such effects are relevant.  Much of my current research aims to identify the specific climate factors that are responsible for observed variations in species distributions and abundances.  Recent projects include examining the effects of broad-scale vs. local weather factors on sea ducks, migrating monarch butterflies, and wetland-breeding amphibians.

Sustaining communities in the face of environmental change:  The goal of conservation and management is to protect species from threats to their survival. Often the focus of management is on multiple species or even multiple taxa.  In such cases, it is necessary to evaluate how conservation actions, which alter habitat conditions, affect the status of all individual species within a community.  Yet identifying and implementing appropriate management plans can be difficult because data are limited for many rare and elusive species.  I develop models to assess how management actions affect all species within a community and not just those that produce enough data for traditional analyses. For example, I was recently involved with projects examining how forest fragmentation impacts communities of temperate and tropical birds and mammals.


Representative Publications

Zipkin E.F., Thorson J.T., See K., Lynch H.J., Grant E.H.C., Kanno Y., Chandler R.B., Letcher B.H., and Royle J.A. 2014. Modeling structured population dynamics using data from unmarked individuals. Ecology. 95: 22-29.

Grant E.H.C., Zipkin E.F., Nichols J.D., and Campbell J.P. 2013. A strategy for monitoring and managing declines in an amphibian community. Conservation Biology. 27: 1245-1253.

Bolker B., Gardner B., Maunder M., Berg C.W., Brooks M., Comita L., Crone E., Cubaynes S., Davies T., de Valpine P., Ford J., Gimenez O., Kery M., Kim E.J., Lennert-Cody C., Magnusson A., Martell S., Nash J., Nielsen A., Regetz J., Skaug H., and Zipkin E.F. 2013. Strategies for fitting nonlinear ecological models in R, AD Model Builder, and BUGS. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 4: 501-512.

Yackulic C., Chandler R., Zipkin E.F., Royle J.A., Nichols J.D., Grant E.H.C., and Veran S. 2013. Presence-only modelling using Maxent: when can we trust the inferences? Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 4: 236-243.

Zipkin E.F., Grant E.H.C., and Fagan W.F. 2012. Evaluating the predictive abilities of community occupancy models using AUC while accounting for imperfect detection. Ecological Applications. 22: 1962-1972.

Zipkin E.F., Ries L., Reeves R., Regetz J., and Oberhauser K. 2012. Tracking climate impacts on the migratory monarch butterfly. Global Change Biology. 18: 3039-3049.

Ruiz-Gutiérrez V., Zipkin E.F., and Dhondt A.A. 2010. Occupancy dynamics in a tropical bird community: unexpectedly high forest use by birds classified as non-forest species. Journal of Applied Ecology. 47: 621-630.

Zipkin E.F., Royle J.A., Dawson D.K., and Bates S. 2010. Multi-species occurrence models to evaluate the effects of conservation and management actions. Biological Conservation. 143: 479-484.

Zipkin E.F., Kraft C.E., Cooch E.G., and Sullivan P.J. 2009. When can efforts to control nuisance and invasive species backfire? Ecological Applications. 19: 1585-1595.