Corbin Kuntze

PhD Student

RESEARCH

My research interests lie at the intersection of community ecology, predator-prey dynamics, and wildlife responses to global change. I use a cross-disciplinary approach to answer key ecological questions about how species interact, select habitats, and how these processes ultimately shape communities. My PhD research with Dr. Zach Peery and Dr. Jonathan Pauli examines these questions through the lens of two main systems.

First, I am studying the demographic consequences of rapid environmental change on a federally endangered population of fishers in the southern Sierra Nevada using a combination of field- and lab-based methods. In this, I am leveraging long-term survival monitoring, stable isotope analyses, and high-resolution climate and habitat imagery.

Second, I am exploring direct and indirect interactions between the California spotted owl and its primary prey species, the dusky-footed woodrat – evaluating how environmental and landscape factors mediate the nature and strength of these dynamics. Specifically, my work encompasses a variety of topics, including A) the role of spatial heterogeneity in predator-prey dynamics – and how landscape composition can modulate woodrat abundance and availability, and in turn, drive prey capture rates by spotted owls, B) the environmental and organismal properties that regulate risk perception and antipredator behaviors in woodrats and a secondary prey species relative to the threat of spotted owl predation, and C) how scale-dependent patterns in vegetation structure and spatial heterogeneity affect woodrat occupancy across a complex landscape.

Overall, this research will provide key insights with policy and resource management implications, as well as takeaways with broad applicability in both predator-prey ecology and conservation strategies worldwide.

EDUCATION

M.Sc. Ecology & Evolutionary Biology  |  University of Michigan, 2017

B.A. Biology; Ecology & Conservation Biology  |  Boston University, 2014

Kuntze, C.C.*, J. N. Pauli, C. J. Zulla*, J. J. Keane, B. P. Dotters, K. N. Roberts, S. C. Sawyer, M. Z. Peery*. 2023. Landscape heterogeneity provides co-benefits to predator and prey. Ecological Applications, p.e.2908. doi.org/10.1002/eap.2908

Kuntze, C.C.*, M. Z. Peery*, R. E. Green, K. L. Purcell, J. N. Pauli. 2023. Sex and age mediate the effects of rapid environmental change for a forest carnivore, the Fisher (Pekania pennanti). doi.org/10.1093/jmammal/gyad105

Colborn, A.S., Kuntze, C.C.*, Gadsden, G.I. and Harris, N.C., 2020. Spatial variation in diet–microbe associations across populations of a generalist North American carnivore. Journal of Animal Ecology89(8), pp.1952-1960. doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.13266