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 Population Biology University of California, Davis
2011Ph.D. Population Biology Harvard University
2005A.B. Biology Harvard University

Professional Experience

2016 - Assistant Professor, University of Miami

Honors & Acknowledgements

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”
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
Research

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

Publications

Howell HJ, Mothes CC, Clements SL, Catania SVL, Rothermel BB, and Searcy CA "Impact of livestock grazing on amphibians: new empirical data and a global review" Ecological Applications. (In press).


David AS, Quintana-Ascencio PF, Menges ES, Thapa-Magar KB, Afkhami ME, and Searcy CA "Soil microbiomes underlie population persistence of an endangered plant species" The American Naturalist (In press).


Clements SL, Catania SVL, and Searcy CA "Non-native species dominate herpetofaunal community composition in both native and non-native habitat patches in Miami-Dade County" Biological Invasions (2019).


Mothes CC, Stroud JT, Clements SL, Searcy CA "Evaluating Maxent’s ability to accurately predict biotic invasions using South Florida’s exotic lizard community" Journal of Biogeography (2019).


Searcy CA, Gilbert B, Krkosek M, Rowe L, and McCauley SJ "Positive correlation between dispersal and body size in green frogs (Rana clamitans) naturally colonizing an experimental landscape" (2018).


Searcy CA and Shaffer HB "Do ecological niche models accurately identify climatic determinants of species ranges?" 423-35187 (The American Naturalist. 2016).


Searcy CA, Rollins HB, and Shaffer HB "Ecological equivalency as a tool for endangered species management" 94-10326 (Ecological Applications. 2016).