George B. Mayer Chair in Urban and Environmental Studies, Associate Professor
In my research, I seek to determine how changing environments affect organisms’ abundances, traits and ecological interactions. Achieving this goal requires understanding how species respond to natural environmental variation, as well as understanding how they respond to human-caused disturbance such as habitat destruction and climate change. Understanding species’ responses will play a critical role in developing conservation strategies for imperiled species, and control strategies for harmful species. My main study organisms are amphibians, which are undergoing severe worldwide declines. It is important to determine why amphibians are declining and how we can stop those declines because amphibians provide important ecological services (e.g., insect control) and they can also serve as a sensitive indicator of environmental change that might directly harm humans (e.g., pollutants).
A video describing an aspect of amphibian ecology studied in the Benard Lab:
Krynak, K.L., D.J. Burke, and M.F. Benard. 2016. Landscape and water characteristics correlate with immune defense traits across Blanchard’s cricket frog (Acris blanchardi) populations. Biological Conservation. 193:153-167. DOI:10.1016/j.biocon.2015.11.019
Benard, M.F. 2015. Warmer winter temperature both reduces frog fecundity, and acts through changing phenology to alter development and timing of metamorphosis. Global Change Biology. 21 (3), 1058-1065. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12720
Dananay, K. L., Krynak, K. L., Krynak, T. J. and Benard, M. F. 2015. Legacy of road salt: Apparent positive larval effects counteracted by negative postmetamorphic effects in wood frogs. Environ Toxicol Chem, 34: 2417–2424. doi:10.1002/etc.3082