Christopher A Searcy

Asst. Professor

Locator Code:
0421

 
About

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.

We are particularly interested in utilizing the most up-to-date mathematical models and statistical methods to inform our conservation ecology work. The tools we most commonly employ include ecological niche modeling (e.g., Maxent), demographic modeling (e.g., integral projection models), and multivariate community statistics. Applying these models and analyses to conservation allows us to make quantitative predictions concerning the set conditions in which endangered populations can persist and the shifts in community structure imposed by different anthropogenic stressors.

We also feel strongly about the importance of parameterizing our models with accurate field data. We are thus engaged in collecting field data on biodiversity, demography, and dispersal from numerous human-impacted ecosystems. These range from the diverse community of non-native reptiles and amphibians in urban Miami to unique South Florida ecosystems (Everglades, Florida scrub, tropical hardwood hammocks) to fragmenting ecosystems in California, Costa Rica, and Sri Lanka.

We primarily study reptiles and amphibians. However, we are also engaged in research on the demography of endangered plants, dispersal of pond invertebrates, and impacts of linear infrastructure development on bird communities.

Teaching Interests

My goal as an instructor is to provide students with toolkits that will enable them to operate as independent researchers. In the Fall, I teach Advanced Biostatistics, which is essential for students to design and analyze their own studies. I cover a wide range of statistical analyses from descriptive statistics through ordination, as well as elements of experimental design to minimize bias and error. In the Spring, I teach Conservation Biology to expose students to the major threats to biodiversity as well as the methods we have developed to combat them. This is accomplished through the lens of case studies drawn from around the world. Both courses are cross-listed for both upper-level undergraduates and graduate students.

Career

Education

2013 - 2015Post Doctoral Fellow, Department of Biology University of Toronto
2011 - 2013Post Doctoral Researcher Department of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis
2011Ph.D. Population Biology University of California, Davis
2005A.B. Biology Harvard University

Professional Experience

2016 - Assistant Professor, University of Miami

Honors & Acknowledgements

2022-2024, US Fish and Wildlife Service/California Department of Fish and Wildlife (PI with CoPIs A. Messerman and L. Stemle), “Using metamorph ecology to guide recovery of the Santa Cruz Long-toed Salamander”
2021-2022, National Science Foundation (CoPI with PI Afkhami) “REPS Supplement: Microbial landscapes: Are microorganisms hidden drivers of species distributions?”
2021-2025, National Science Foundation (COPI with PI Afkhami), “Dimensions US-China: Collaborative Research: Impacts of heritable plant-fungus symbiosis on phylogenetic, genetic, and function diversity.”
2020-2023, South Florida Water Management District (PI with COPI H Howell), “Herpetofaunal sampling at Loxahatchee Impoundment landscape assessment (LILA)”
2020-2022, Disney Conservation Fund (COPI with PI B Rothermel) “High-resolution tracking of juveniles to improve Gopher tortoise conservation”
2019-2023, National Science Foundation (CoPI with PI M Afkhami), “Microbial landscapes: Are microorganisms hidden drivers of species distributions?”
2019-2022, Joint Genome Institute (PI with CoPI M Afkhami), “Fire selection and the carbon cycling potential of the soil microbiome”
2019-2020, University of Miami (PI), “Tying plant distributions to the microbial landscape.”
2018-2020, South Florida Water Management District (PI with CoPI H Howell), “Effects of proposed Everglades restoration measures on the community of reptiles and amphibians”
2017-2018, University of Miami (CoPI with K Feeley, C Horvitz, and M Afkhami), “Hurricane preparedness and recovery of living plant collections”
2016-2020, US Fish and Wildlife Service (PIs: Searcy, CA and Shaffer, HB), “Terrestrial habitat use by endangered Santa Barbara tiger salamanders”
Research

LIST OF SPECIALTIES: Conservation Biology | Community Ecology | Landscape Ecology | Herpetology

Publications

Mothes, C.C., L. Stemle, T. Fonseca, S.L. Clements, H.J. Howell & C.A. Searcy Conservation Letter Protect or perish: quantitative analysis of state-level species protection supports preservation of the Endangered Species Act (2021).


Messerman, A.F., A.G. Clause, S.V.L. Catania, H.B. Shaffer & C.A. Searcy Freshwater Biology Coexistence of an endangered predator-prey community in California vernal pools1296-1310 66 (2021).


Clements, S.L., E.A. Powell, C.C. Mothes & C.A. Searcy Biodiversity and Conservation Status assessment of Sphaerodactylus notatus, the U.S. herpetofauna most endangered by sea level rise107-12130 (2021).


Hernandez, D., A.S. David, E.S. Menges, C.A. Searcy & M.E. Afkhami The ISME Journal Environmental stress destabilizes microbial networks1722-173415 (2021).


Leite, L.M.S.N., S.K. French, C.A. Searcy & S.J. McCauley International Journal of Odonatology Forested landscape elements and their effects on the arrival of dragonflies at pond habitats38-5024 (2021).