MSU Ecologists Receive Award for Endangered Species Forecasting Work
A few years ago, Michigan State University quantitative ecologists Sarah Saunders and Elise Zipkin created a new statistical model to understand the threats endangered species face. Now, as federal agencies continue to use those findings, the research has earned this year’s Ecological Forecasting Outstanding Publication Award from the Ecological Society of America (ESA).
When the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needed help boosting the Great Lakes population of piping plovers, Saunders, then a postdoctoral researcher in Zipkin’s Quantitative Ecology Lab, teamed up with Zipkin to uncover threats to the endangered shorebird’s recovery. Saunders developed an analysis framework to estimate and predict the numbers of endangered plovers based on environmental variables.
Their award-winning paper, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology in 2018, combines Saunders’ work on statistical modeling during her postdoc, along with her Ph.D. research on piping plovers, and makes a strong case for predator control.