john benson

John Benson

Assistant Professor of Vertebrate Ecology

University of Nebraska School of Natural Resources


University of Nebraska School of Natural Resources

Bio

As a La Kretz postdoc, I worked with the National Park Service and modeled dynamics of a small mountain lion population isolated by freeways and habitat fragmentation in the Santa Monica Mountains (SMMs) in greater Los Angeles, California. The population exhibited strong survival and reproduction; however, our model predicted a rapid decline in genetic diversity that warrants concern regarding extinction due to demographic consequences of inbreeding. Importantly, our model predicted a much higher (100%) probability of extinction due to inbreeding depression than from demographic stochasticity alone (15-22%). Simulating increased immigration of mountain lions with novel genes into the SMMs from surrounding areas maintained genetic diversity and reduced extinction probability in our model. Our work highlights the importance of restoring and maintaining connectivity in human-altered landscapes to prevent extinctions of isolated wildlife populations.

I am now an Assistant Professor of Vertebrate Ecology with the School of Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska.  My research program will involve tackling applied and basic questions in ecology – mostly with populations of carnivores and ungulates across North America and around the world.

 

Curriculum Vitae