Shawn F. McCracken, Ph.D.
My research includes topics related to the conservation, ecology, and evolutionary relationships of species inhabiting the high canopy of tropical rainforests; with a focus on amphibians and reptiles. I am particularly interested in the animal communities utilizing tank bromeliads as microhabitat and the role of bromeliads as a keystone resource in the canopy.
My conservation interests concentrate on the effects of deforestation and fragmentation to canopy inhabiting herpetofauna and canopy microclimate in Amazonia using tank bromeliads as focal species. I also work on the effects of anthropogenic distrubance to herpetofauna of Texas.
Research interests pertaining to ecology include the abiotic and biotic factors driving species diversity and abundance, niche partitioning, and food web structure and dynamics. Naturally, canopy ecology is a particular interest to me with many questions remaining in this emerging field of science.
I am also interested in systematics of amphibians and the evolutionary relationships within food web structures of bromeliads.
Currently, I am studying the effects of natural (streams/rivers) and anthropogenic semi-linear forest clearings (roads/pipline ROW’s) on the internal and adjacent microclimate of canopy tank bromeliads. I am applying molecular techniques to examine for ecological diversification (vertical niche partitioning) in the direct-developing anuran genus Pristimantis. I am working on different ecological aspects of the endangered Houston toad (Bufo (Anaxayrus) houstonensis); including anthropogenic and catastrophic wildfire impacts to disjunct populations as well as range-wide automated call surveys to evaluate detection probability and population size. Finally, I am investigating habitat-suitability for the Texas tortoise (Gopherus berlandieri) throughout its historic range in Texas.
I am a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at Texas State University. I am also the Founder and Executive Director of the TADPOLE Organization – a non-profit organization dedicated to informing and educating the public regarding our obligation to protect and preserve the Amazon’s amphibian species.