Research InterestsResearch Interests
I began my work at AMNH in 2002 as an NSF funded post-doctoral researcher on a project to build an automated species identification system. Using artificial neural networks and unique image processing techniques, we developed a web-based working prototype system to identify the species in the spider family, Trochanteriidae. We call the general system SPIDA-web (SPecies IDentification,Automated and web accessible). I am currently working to improve and expand this work to other groups of spiders (Oonopidae) as well as native bees and plants. My interest in this subject stems from my training as an ecologist, seeking to understand and conserve biodiversity. I am particularly interested in urban systems and the promotion of biodiversity within human dominated landscapes. Specifically, I seek to explore the potential of arthropod taxa as biological indicators to serve as the basis for decisions about the design, construction and maintenance of biodiversity-promoting habitats. In addition to using arthropods as tools in conservation planning, I am interested in understanding the specific needs of the arthropod fauna and how these needs may differ from the needs of vertebrate species from a conservation perspective. This will require a more complete understanding of terrestrial arthropod ecology at the assemblage or community level, including the functional significance of arthropod groups in ecosystems.