Research

The Lynch Lab is focused on applying quantitative methods to ecological questions in ecology and conservation biology. Although we work in a number of different areas related to quantitative ecology, central to the lab’s current research activities are our efforts to understand the dynamics of ecological change on the Antarctic Peninsula and their genesis in environmental and anthropogenic drivers.

All of our research efforts address real-world ecological or conservation problems through the development of mathematical models and statistical analyses custom-designed, in many cases, to overcome challenges posed by complex spatiotemporal ecological datasets. Solving real-world environmental challenges often requires novel, interdisciplinary approaches that defy traditional academic boundaries and fall, at various times, into ecology, geography, applied mathematics, or earth systems science. One aspect of our work currently in development is the optimization of biological monitoring via the integration of remote sensing and a combination of targeted and opportunistic field data. Facilitated by the Polar Geospatial Center at the University of Minnesota, we are using high-resolution commercial and medium resolution Landsat satellite imagery to catalog all penguin colonies (detected via guano deposits) in Antarctica. We are also using satellite imagery to track other key Antarctic species such as Antarctic petrels, pack-ice seals, and whales. Additional studies ongoing in the lab include investigations into penguin behavior, genetics, stress hormones, and habitat use. By integrating data science, satellite imagery, computer vision, and field work, we hope to advance our understanding of the distribution and abundance of wildlife in this region for improved conservation. As a means of sharing these data with key stakeholder groups, we have created an online application for penguin population data called the Mapping Application for Penguin Populations and Projected Dynamics (MAPPPD).