Current Lab Members
I investigate the spatial and temporal dynamics of multiple dimensions of biodiversity across heterogeneous environmental conditions. A large part of my work is based on comprehensive, multi-year resurveys of the birds and mammals in desert-montane systems in the Northern Great Basin of North America. Using modern field surveys and museum collections, I investigate temporal community dynamics of small mammals across elevational gradients in response to a century of landcover and climate change. Additionally, I use empirical field data to investigate the area–heterogeneity tradeoff in functional diversity across communities of disparate taxa (birds and mammals). I also study biodiversity and the resiliency of communities at the macro-ecological scale. Specifically, I use remotely sensed datasets and multivariate techniques to understand the degree of spatial dimensionality (co-variation among multiple biodiversity dimensions) of passerine birds across the North American continent, with an emphasis on the potential role of topographic complexity as a correlate and/or driver of functional, phylogenetic, and taxonomic diversity. My extended interests in biodiversity have led me down other research paths, including work in fields such as paleobiology, taphonomy, and even analyses of the behavior of birdwatchers. Lastly, I am an avid birder myself and you will usually find me skulking around staring through a pair of binoculars at our feathered friends.
My research questions concern the ties between small mammal morphology and environmental change. I want to know, in broad terms, whether there are taxonomic, habitat, or behavioral traits that determine the strength of morphometric adaptation in response to climate change. I am using small mammal specimens to answer these questions across a range of spatial and temporal scales.
Jane Van Gunst
Jane received her undergraduate degrees in biology and French literature and language from
University of Virginia. While working at a foundation promoting wildlife conservation in the
Intermountain West, Jane became involved in applied ecology and restoration ecology projects in Great
Basin sagebrush and woodland systems. She returned to the University of Reno, Nevada to complete her
MS degree in landscape and forest ecology in the Great Basin Landscape Ecology Lab. After working as a
nongame biologist for a state wildlife agency, she started a PhD program in September 2022, working
with Dr. Rebecca Terry’s lab in the Department of Integrative Biology and Dr. Clint Epps’ lab in the
Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Sciences at Oregon State University. Her current
research focuses on advancing pika conservation in arid systems, particularly in the Great Basin.
M.S. Student (2019-22)
Current position: Biology Lab Coordinator, Pacific University
PhD Student (2013-19)
Current position: Instructor, Linn-Benton Community College
Honors Thesis (2020)
URSIC Awardee (2016)
URSIC Awardee (2019)