How is climate change influencing the population dynamics of tidal marsh birds?

Understanding the influence of extreme flooding events

I am interested in the importance of extreme events for understanding population dynamics and extinction risk, especially for coastal species such as tidal marsh birds. For coastal systems, better understanding the relative importance of extreme events, from regular tidal flooding to rare, but powerful events like hurricanes, has immediate implications for understanding risk as well as informing the degree of model and data complexity needed to have confidence in the projections. For more on this work, see:


Field CR, RuskinKJ, Cohen JB, Hodgman TP, Kovach AI, Olsen BJ, Shriver GW, ElphickCS. 2019. Framework for quantifying population responses to disturbance reveals that coastal birds are highly resilient to hurricanes. Ecology Letters in press,

Field CR, Bayard T, Gjerdrum C, Hill J, Meiman S, Elphick CS. 2016. High resolution tide projections reveal extinction threshold in response to sea-level rise. Global Change Biology 23:2058–2070,


Population viability

I am working with the Saltmarsh Habitat and Avian Research Program (SHARP) to estimate the viability of the tidal marsh bird community in the face of the pressures from global change, including sea-level rise and hurricanes. Preliminary results can be found here.


What socio-environmental factors are driving marine transgression and coastal squeeze?

The physical, biological, and social components of marine transgression are just beginning to be understood, especially as they relate to the potential for tidal marshes to migrate landward. I am interested in quantifying the social, ecological, and physical components of marine transgression and coastal squeeze, with an eye toward greater synthesis of these components to better understand how socio-environmental factors will determine the future of coastal ecosystems. 


Mismatches in timing in the response of ecosystems to sea-level rise

We have collected baseline data across Long Island Sound to quantify the recent responses of tidal marshes and coastal forest to sea-level rise, and whether the resistence of coastal forest to will limit marsh migration. For more information on this work, see here and:


Field CR, Gjerdrum C, Elphick CS. 2016. Forest resistance to sea-level rise prevents landward migration of tidal marsh. Biological Conservation 201:363-369,  


Human dimensions of ecosystem migration

I am interested in quantifying the attitudes and behavioral intentions of coastal landowners to better understand how their actions will limit or encourage coastal conservation and coastal squeeze. I am conducting this research in collaboration with Ashley Dayer. A component of this work is better understanding the effectiveness of environmental education and outreach messages and the potential for engagement to improve environmental and conservation outcomes. This information is being incorporated into ongoing conservation planning models and will ultimately be used to refine estimates of future marsh extent in the face of sea-level rise. For more information on this work, see:

Field CR, Dayer AA, Elphick CS. 2017. Landowner behavior can determine the success of conservation strategies for ecosystem migration under sea-level rise. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114:9134-9139,


The mail questionnaire used for this survey is available here


What knowledge and methods are needed to have confidence in inferences in ecology and conservation?

Survey protocol complexity


Field CR, Gjerdrum C, Elphick CS. 2016. Choice of statistical method to adjust counts for imperfect detection has little effect on inferences of animal abundance. Methods in Ecology and Evolution,


Replication of field effort across a species range


Field CR, Ruskin KJ, Benvenuti B, Borowske A, Cohen JB, Garey L, Hodgman TP, Kern RA, King E, Kocek AR, Kovach AI, O’Brien KM, Olsen BJ, Pau N, Roberts SG, Shelly E, Shriver WG, Walsh J, Elphick CS. Quantifying the importance of geographic replication and representativeness when estimating demographic rates. Ecography 41:684-694,


Relative importance of ecological and social data for conservation planning

There has been extensive research on the development of methods and tools for conservation planning, especially spatial planning, but comparatively little is known about the relative importance of ecological vs. non-ecological data for prioritization, or the likely return on investment of incorporating better data. I am currently working on approaches and case studies for quantifying the relative importance of different types of knowledge for conservation decision-making. 

Field CR, Elphick CS. 2019. Quantifying the return on investment of social and ecological data for conservation planning. Environmental Research Letters,


Aesthetic perspectives on environmental problems: Quantifying the distribution, purpose, and impact of environmental public art across the United States

Environmental public art is inspired by or provides a new perspective on pressing environmental issues. Often, the goal of environmental art is to inspire people to change their behavior in ways that will ultimately benefit the environment. There have been few systematic evaluations of public art’s effects on human behavior or environmental outcomes. With Drs. Bianca Lopez and Se Jong Cho, I am bringing together researchers from social psychology, environmental education, ecology, conservation science, and art history, as well as artists and art funders, to lay the groundwork for a large-scale public art evaluation in the U.S.