Assistant Professor Tal Avgar

Avgar_portrait-2

Contact Info

Institution: Utah State University, Senior Partner

Phone: (435) 797-0301

Address: Old Main Hill, Logan, Utah 84322, US

Website: https://talavgar.com/

Research Disciplines

  • Behavioral Ecology

  • Statistical Ecology

  • Wildlife Ecology

  • Ecology/Landscape

  • Livestock and Wildlife interactions

  • Wildlife Biology

  • Spatial Analysis

  • Game species

  • Wildlife Behavior

  • Wildlife Monitoring

Research Interests

Research Interests Animal movement and space-use ecology, wildlife population biology, consumer-resource interactions, ecological modelling and biometry
Current Research Program Density-dependent wildlife space-use ecology: investigating the relationship between local population-level processes and individual-level habitat-selection and movement behaviors.

Projects

None.

Biography

I am a movement ecologist. My research focuses on the ecological and evolutionary causes and consequences of animal movement behavior.

Animal movement has fascinated humankind since the dawn of history, but only recently have we begun to truly elucidate the different drivers that underlie movement phenomena such as migration, natal dispersal, home ranging, and nomadism.

Within the limitations of their cognitive and physical capacities, animals move to enhance their fitness; animals move to thermoregulate, to find water, food, and mates, or to avoid predators, competitors, or parasites. The relative importance of these different drivers is however species, system, and context specific, and is often poorly understood. This ignorance is debilitating because animal movement is a critical component of many ecological processes and applied challenges, including trophic interactions, metapopulation dynamics, disease transmission, range expansions, and human-wildlife conflicts.

Ultimately, movement behaviors of individuals translate into the fundamental elements of population dynamics: spatiotemporal patterns of emigration and immigration, survival, and reproduction. The premise behind my research is that quantitative understanding of the processes underlying animal movement behaviors is essential, not only as means to identifying ecological needs and interactions at the individual level, but as a mechanistic key to emerging population and community patterns.

I believe that through a process-based approach we may be able reliably forecast such patterns outside of the observed envelope of ecological conditions and into a rapidly changing future. That said, I also recognize that it is often challenging to identify those processes that are both necessary and sufficient for predicting specific patterns, and that this process-based premise must be continuously evaluated against simpler alternatives. With these perspectives in mind, my research goal is to develop mechanistic understanding of the drivers of animal movement behavior across ecological landscapes, and to use this understanding to interpret and predict spatiotemporal patterns of organismal abundance.

Education

  • 2008 – 2013 Ph.D. research under the supervision of Prof. John Fryxell. Integrative Biology program, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Thesis title: From diffusion to cognition: analytical, statistical and mechanistic approaches to the study of animal movement.
  • 2004 – 2007 M.Sc. research under the supervision of Prof. Ran Nathan. Environmental Science program, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. Graduated magna cum laude. Thesis title: Linking foraging traits of seed-eating ants to spatial patterns of surviving seeds.
  • 2001 – 2004 B.Sc. in Geology and Biology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.