I am broadly interested in ecological questions at the intersection of behavior and physiology.
Reptiles and amphibians serve well as model systems, given the link between environmental variables and the biology of these organisms. An increase in our understanding of the biology of herpetofauna is inherently valuable toward seeking a broader ecological perspective. I also have an interest in the conservation of these organisms, especially because the impact of climate change on the ecology of reptiles and amphibians may be dramatic.
My research has followed two major threads. The first, has examined the inextricable link between the environment, physiology and behavior in reptiles. Past field work has focused on temperature regulation, habitat use and activity by snakes (e.g., How carefully do snakes regulate body temperature? How do activity and habitat use patterns vary among populations of snakes?). Recent field work has included radio-tracking wood turtles and box turtles at the nearby Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve to examine habitat use and behavior.
The second thread to my research has examined some of the ecological implications of the above, specifically by studying the interactions of predator and prey. Past field work has focused on the species that can fall prey to snakes (e.g., Does the abundance of small-mammal populations influence habitat use by snakes? Are snake activity patterns important predictors of avian nesting success?). Recent lab work has examined the response of frog tadpoles to the presence of predators (e.g., How do tadpoles respond behaviorally to the presence of predator cues? What morphological traits can be induced as a response to different predators?).
My future work will continue to follow the above threads, but I would also like to more strongly bridge the gap between environment, physiology, and these predator-prey interactions (e.g., What are some of the implications of tadpole responses to predators, given the effects of the environment on metabolic rate and development time?).
I would be excited to supervise motivated students interested in these and similar questions!
Gerardo L. F. Carfagno
Visiting Assistant Professor, Biology
Phone: (717) 337 - 6238
Box: Campus Box 0392
McCreary Hall 206B
300 North Washington St.
Gettysburg, PA 17325-1400
BA Dartmouth College, 1999
PhD University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2007
Behavioral and Physiological Ecology, Predator-Prey Interactions