Douglas McCauley

2016 Hellman Fellow

Assistant Professor, Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology

Project Title: Raccoon (Procyon lotor) Spatial Ecology and the Potential for Reducing Human Disease Risk

The advance of the Anthropocene is rewriting the rules of ecology. One major form of change materializing around us is the remodeling of ecosystems to better suit our own needs. Wetlands, forests, and grasslands are being modified into suburbs, business parks, and transit ways. It is both interesting and useful to understand how wildlife begins to reinvent its ecology to sync with the expansion of these novel human-created ecosystems.
In research supported by the Hellman Fellows program, we will investigate how the archetypal urban ecosystem species, the raccoon, ecologically navigates human landscapes. Using high resolution GPS tracking we will study how raccoons forage, transit, and refuge in urban ecosystems. Because raccoons are vectors of a number of diseases of concern to human health, this research will not only advance our understanding of the principles of urban ecology, but it will also generate applied products that can help manage public health risk in our communities.

“This fellowship provided needed momentum at a critical juncture in my research career.”