We are an interdisciplinary team working to explore the social and environmental dynamics of wildlife in suburban and urban spaces.

As many wildlife populations, including white-tailed deer, grow in numbers in residential areas, local governments face new questions related to the management of these species. This project investigates changing white-tailed deer populations in New York and Massachusetts, and examines how communities make decisions regarding these changes by connecting ecological data collection and analysis with social science research. The ecological research component seeks to understand the relationship between deer populations, impacts to understory plant communities, and hunter harvests. Social science research activities consist of a survey of communities, hunter diaries, interviews with town officials, residents, and hunters, and review of key documents. Through these approaches, we will examine how these groups understand and respond to growing populations of white-tailed deer and how strategies for wildlife management spread among different locations. Together, our research activities will inform agent-based decision modeling to investigate local deer management given the complexity of social and ecological processes underpinning management strategies.

Producing insights on the social, political and ecological processes that facilitate wildlife management actions, our research will be relevant to policy-makers, natural resource managers, activists and members of the public interested in the socio-ecological dynamics of forested systems.

The research is funded by awards from the National Science Foundation (Award #1832191 and Award #1923668)