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Steve Mason

Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science
Office: ANSP - Department of Entomology

Research Interests:

Community ecology, fire ecology, forest entomology, functional groups, trait analysis, conservation in the NJ Pine Barrens


My dissertation research focuses on fire effects on insect functional groups in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Insects are the most biodiverse animal group in the world, having evolved to occupy many niches making them the most ideal but challenging way to test different hypotheses with fire. The New Jersey Pine Barrens is the northern portion of the Atlantic Coastal Plain which was recently named the 36th Global Biodiversity Hotspot. The NJ Pine Barrens is a fire adapted community with a lot of endemic species adapted to fires. However, the fire ecology has greatly been altered in the past few decades mainly due to anthropogenic changes. The most acknowledged change is fire suppression but with climate change, there has been an increase in wildfire frequency, intensity, and fire season. I_Ñém trying to determine how different functional groups respond to these changes and see what traits they posses to learn more about the insect and fire interactions in this hotspot to create hypotheses that can be applied elsewhere in the world.