Shawn F. McCracken, Ph.D.
My research interests lie in identifying evolutionary and ecological drivers of biodiversity in tropical forests through observation of system perturbation effects on these factors at local and landscape scales. Recognizing how disturbances affect factors that alter species diversity, abundance, and distribution enable better informed decisions on conservation and management practices in complex tropical ecosystems. I am specifically interested in determining early-stage impacts on biodiversity and its spatial extent resulting from various disturbance types and intensities. To address these questions my research focuses on the relationship of tropical fauna with their microhabitat requirements and the tolerance of both to changes in the system. My primary study system is tank bromeliad microcosms of the high forest canopy that provide a taxonomically rich and discrete naturally replicated microhabitat, but my studies include the entire vertical stratum from the forest floor to the tree top interface with the atmosphere. The application of ecological field studies, molecular techniques, remote sensing, and geospatial data analysis provide an ideal setting for collaborative, multidisciplinary approaches to identifying the initial triggers of cascading biodiversity loss due to anthropogenic forest disturbance and climate change. I seek to characterize unique ecological niches and their faunal communities using an array of tools and techniques to better understand their theoretical position in biodiversity maintenance of today’s dynamic tropical forests.
Being based in Texas, I am also interested in and conduct research on the effects of anthropogenic disturbance to herpetofauna of Texas.
Currently, 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.