Cat Sun

bears, management, and people, oh My!

study the spatial patterns and genetic diversity of wildlife populations


I study spatial and temporal patterns of wildlife populations related to population dynamics, landscape patterns, and and genetics.  Motivated by the needs of wildlife management and conservation, my goal is to conduct research that generates the science and knowledge behind robust management decisions.

For my PhD research, I am studying the growing population of black bears in New York State, which are an important species on the landscape, affecting the ecosystem as well as human culture, society, and economy. My work helps identify cost-efficient monitoring methods, potential mechanisms for managing the population growth, and underlying patterns of genetic structure of bears in the region. I employ non-invasive, cost-efficient field methods (hair snares and camera traps) to collect (spatial capture-recapture and occupancy) data, and combine them with additional datasets in statistical models to estimate population parameters, including population size, distribution, and demographic rates (e.g., survival, recruitment, growth). I also apply the theory and approaches of population genetics to identify patterns of genetic structure and connectivity that could influence management and conservation.

I am also interested in engaging different stakeholders in the process of scientific research and management. I interact and work with high school, college, fellow graduate students, as well as researchers, the general public through citizen science, and private landowners, hunters, wildlife biologists and managers. I believe that everyone, every level of society - citizen, government, NGO - can play a part in science and research, and that everyone should be invested in the health and conservation of nature. 

Current Research 

Population Size, Spatial Patterns, and Genetic Diversity of Black Bears in New York

Developing an Integrated Population Model of Black Bears in New York

Landscape-level Genetics of Black Bears the Northeast US


Previous Research

A Noninvasive, Genetic, Spatial-Capture Study of an Expanding Black Bear Population in Southwestern New York.

Forest Floor Leaf Litter and Veery Nest Structure 

Putative Nemertean Species, Lineus ruber and L. viridis 

Quantifying the Effect of Non-Native Plants on Spider Abundance and Diversity