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Krishna Pacifici

Associate Professor

Jordan Hall Addition 5217

Bio

Education

Ph.D., Forest Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, GA (2011)

M.S., Statistics, University of Georgia, Athens, GA (2012)

M.S., Wildlife Ecology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC (2007)

B.S., Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC (2003)

Research Interests

Quantitative ecology, wildlife ecology, spatio-temporal modeling, statistical ecology, computational statistics, disease ecology, structured decision making, adaptive management, decision making under uncertainty

My specific research interests are driven by understanding the effects of environmental stressors and disturbances on ecological populations and communities and by making conservation and management decisions in the face of such uncertainty. My research can be broadly classified into two main areas: (1) making conservation and management decisions in the face of uncertainty, and (2) identifying the underlying mechanisms and responses of ecological systems to environmental stressors and disturbances. The connecting thread between both research areas is the development and application of quantitative methods to solve real world problems.

Courses

FW 453/553 Principles of Wildlife Science every Spring Semester

Publications

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Grants

Date: 07/01/21 - 9/30/25
Amount: $170,884.00
Funding Agencies: US Geological Survey (USGS)

The Neuse River Waterdog (Necturus lewisi) is an endemic salamander found only in the Neuse and Tar River basins in Eastern North Carolina. Recent survey efforts suggest the species may be declining range-wide with more exaggerated losses in the Neuse River basin. Although previous studies have provided valuable information about the potential influence of both environmental and anthropogenic stressors, they have done so in a limited window of time resulting in a snapshot of conditions indexed at 3 specific time points (early 1980’s, early 2010’s, and 2018-2020) over the last 40 years. These findings have spurred important hypotheses about the relative impact of changes in land use and land cover, but does not allow for an explicit quantification of how those changes in the environment are driving changes in the distribution and productivity of waterdogs. These preliminary results highlight two important gaps in our knowledge. 1) The need to understand important drivers of change at two relevant spatial scales (micro- and meso-scale), and 2) the need to conduct longer term studies to ensure sufficient data to fully evaluate these effects and how they influence changes in population dynamics of waterdogs. Given these needs we propose to build on our prior research by extending sampling for multiple years necessary to meet the following primary objectives: 1) determine the distribution of N. lewisi and how it is changing over space and time as a result of both micro and meso-scale stressors, 2) evaluate micro-and meso-scale drivers of recruitment using multiple sampling techniques, and 3) evaluate future scenarios of LULC and the related persistence of N. lewisi in order to develop a framework for identifying and prioritizing management strategies for species recovery. The study design and associated methods of sampling will also allow us to explore the following secondary objectives: 1) evaluate how much sampling effort is necessary to detect waterdogs at sites across the landscape (i.e. power analysis based on occupancy and detection rates estimated from this study) and 2) assess individual variation in relation to localized site characteristics using additional information collected on individuals (e.g., body condition, morphological measurements, photo ids, tissue samples).

Date: 04/01/22 - 8/31/25
Amount: $349,998.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Commerce (DOC)

Previously collected trap and video data, along with ROV survey data, will be used to estimate red snapper abundance within an integrated population modeling framework. Population models require spatial replication over the study area of interest and temporal replicates that are independent but close enough in time to ensure population closure. The proposed study would use trap and video count data to estimate detection probability and abundance of red snapper within an integrated population model fitted in a Bayesian framework. Covariates that influence red snapper detection probability and abundance will be used to predict abundance (with associated uncertainty) at habitats that are similar to SEFIS sampling sites but not sampled. We will conduct workshops with reef fishery stakeholders to assist with identification of non-sampled hard bottom habitats. Based on past work, covariates important to red snapper abundance are likely to include bottom temperature, depth, latitude, and substrate type. A key question with this work is the spatial area that an individual SEFIS trap and video station effectively samples. The proposed project would address this question by estimating local abudance through a mark and resight approach using acoustic telemetry tags. Red snapper densities derived from ROV surveys will also be estimated at habitat types generally not sampled by SEFIS. Spatial maps of important covariates and habitat type will be used to generate abundance by area across the study region. These individual abundance values would be summed to estimate abundance of red snapper (with associated uncertainty) in the US Atlantic.

Date: 08/01/22 - 7/31/25
Amount: $374,312.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

We will build range-wide SDM’s for over 100 North American Mammal species to test the hypothesis that niche conservatism is related to evolutionary history and compare the degrees of local adaptation to natural and anthropogenic factors. 1) Collect and curate large datasets of modern mammal occurrence and distribution: a) Recent camera trap data including annual national surveys through Snapshot USA. b) Recent museum specimen records via GBIF. c) Recent citizen science observations via iNaturalist, checked for accuracy by experts. 2) Classify species records based on existing phylogeographic studies (Table 1). 3) Use three approaches to create range-wide integrated SDM’s and compare their performance: a) One global model for each species. b) Models for each phylogenetic group, as defined in objective 2. c) No a priori assumptions of grouping using Spatially Varying Coefficients (SVC’s) 4) Address research questions a) Test hypothesis of phylogenetic niche conservatism. i) Compare SDM performance of global model vs. phylogenetic groups vs. SVC’s. ii) Compare the location of discontinuities of ecological relationships from SVC’s with phylogenetic groups. b) Compare local adaptation to natural factors vs. anthropogenic factors using SVC’s.

Date: 10/01/22 - 12/31/24
Amount: $41,265.00
Funding Agencies: NC Wildlife Resources Commission

We propose a 2.5-year study on American alligators in the NC coastal plain. The goal is to analyze and evaluate currently available alligator data to estimate occupancy and relative abundance via spotlight surveys, evaluate the ability of spotlight surveys to provide adequate information for monitoring programs, and investigate approaches to estimate demographic rates and abundance using a case study of an intensively studied alligator population at Lake Waccamaw. Results of this work provide direct evaluations of current alligator monitoring efforts in North Carolina (spotlight surveys, mark-recapture methods) and the development of approaches that can extend to regional- and statewide alligator research and management programs in North Carolina.

Date: 08/15/19 - 12/31/23
Amount: $644,410.00
Funding Agencies: US Fish & Wildlife Service

This 4-year study will provide a comprehensive understanding of wild turkey demography at 3 regions in North Carolina and will quantify spatial and temporal variation in underlying vital rates. The results and recommendations stemming from the study will serve as a solid foundation on which future turkey management actions can be based

Date: 03/01/21 - 8/31/23
Amount: $353,650.00
Funding Agencies: South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium

Previously collected trap and video data, along with ROV survey data, will be used to estimate red snapper abundance within an integrated population modeling framework. Population models require spatial replication over the study area of interest and temporal replicates that are independent but close enough in time to ensure population closure. The proposed study would use trap and video count data to estimate detection probability and abundance of red snapper with an integrated populaiton model fitted in a Bayesian framework. Covariates that influence red snapper detection probability and abundance will be used to predict abundance (with associated uncertainty) at habitats that are similar to SEFIS sampling sites but not sampled. We will conduct workshops with reef fishery stakeholders to assist with identification of non-sampled hard bottom habitats. Based on past work, covariates important to red snapper abundance are likely to include bottom temperature, depth, latitude, and substrate type. A key question with this work is the spatial area that an individual SEFIS trap and video station effectively samples. Recently, project collaborators measured the response of red snapper around baited traps using fine spatial scale telemetry data, and response distance information will be used to estimate the sampled area at trap stations. Red snapper densities derived from ROV surveys will also be estimated at habitat types generally not sampled by SEFIS. Spatial maps of important covariates and habitat type will be used to generate abundance by area across the study region. These individual abundance values would be summed to estimate abundance of red snapper (with associated uncertainty) in the US Atlantic.

Date: 08/01/17 - 7/31/23
Amount: $5,420,267.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Interior (DOI)

The guiding strategy of the Southeast Climate Science Center (SE CSC) is to provide staffing and institutional support for core SE CSC mission areas. The SE CSC's mission involves supporting researchers and managers to co-produce science connected to management decisions (actionable science), coordinating logistics and communications to bring partners and the community together (within NCSU, with USGS researchers, and across the broader community) to discuss global change impacts to the DOI mission, and training the next generation (graduate students) and current managers on how to use and develop global change science.

Date: 07/01/21 - 6/30/23
Amount: $294,171.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Interior (DOI)

Climate-change vulnerability assessments (CCVA) provide a framework for evaluating how a species will respond to a changing climate, which can be especially critical for hunted species because of the additional stress on population dynamics. Integrating the use of CCVAs with a process that ensures the coproduction of knowledge will yield an inclusive, iterative approach between research and management to create new information. Using our wellestablished network with managers and other stakeholders, we propose a process of coproduction to assess the climate-change vulnerability of a wide-spread and economically important game species, wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), across the southeastern U.S. where it is exhibiting long-term declines in abundance. We will use >10 years of reproduction data for wild turkeys from six states to explore the multiplicative effects of climate and hunter harvest on wild turkeys to help guide localized harvest regimes (e.g., timing of the hunting season) across the region. We will assess the relative importance of short-term weather events, longer-term weather shifts, and extreme weather events on reproductive timing and output. Combining information on the relative contributions of weather and climate with variation in reproduction due to phenological cues will allow us to make projections about the overall influence of climate on reproduction in wild turkeys. Stakeholders in the process will include agency biologists, especially members of the Southeast Wild Turkey Technical Committee, National Wild Turkey Federation staff, and the general public with an interest in wild turkey conservation and hunting opportunities.

Date: 07/15/17 - 6/30/22
Amount: $156,570.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

The main objectives of this proposal are to fill current gaps in knowledge of nontuberculous mycobacteria ecology and disease transmission using the Hawaiian Islands as a model to understand the critical factors that influence how NTM inhabiting water and soil environments become infectious agents responsible for a recalcitrant lung disease. The specific aims of this proposal are to 1) conduct island-wide environmental sampling and use genomic profiling, soil and water analyses, and climate data to survey the environmental and epidemiological factors associated with the frequency and diversity of NTM in Hawai’i; 2) conduct a comprehensive comparative analysis of matched Hawaiian environmental and clinical NTM isolates to identify species of NTM and to link environmental influences and patient behavior with prevalence of NTM infection; and 3) build a predictive model of NTM transmission to understand disease dynamics in the Hawaiian Islands. This model may then be used to study these bacteria and associated lung disease with results that are likely generalizable to other areas of the world.

Date: 10/01/13 - 6/30/22
Amount: $1,689,894.00
Funding Agencies: US Fish & Wildlife Service

The Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) want to implement a habitat conservation strategy that ensures the long-term persistence of resident avifauna. The central piece of this initiative is the implementation of actions that will increase the amount of protected land from the actual 8% to 15% across the Puerto Rican Archipelago, either through land acquisition or non-acquisition alternatives. The challenge posed by the stated habitat conservation goal is, fundamentally, a decision problem. The NCSU co-principal investigators will address the following specific tasks: 1) develop a robust decision framework to optimally allocate efforts and resources to meet the stated habitat conservation goal. Decisions will maximize species persistence and species representativeness; 2) generate avian patch occupancy and community dynamics estimates to inform decisions, and 3) determine how farming management practices in agro-ecosystems (e.g., coffee plantations) influence the presence of selected foraging resources for avifauna. The deliverable of this project will be a decision framework to assess the trade-offs among alternative actions constrained by costs, availability of parcels of land, and feasibility and interpretability of the policy. It will also deliver the blueprint of a monitoring program to evaluate the benefits accrued by implementing selected actions.


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