Kirsten E Ironside, Ph.D.

Kirsten is a biologist with the Southwest Biological Science Center working as a post-doctoral scientist on several USGS projects related to wildlife and landscape ecology.


Kirsten graduated in the fall of 2015 from Northern Arizona University with a PhD in Biology where she studied cougars (Puma concolor) and their prey using GPS telemetry as a USGS Pathways student.  Her dissertation work was supported by the NASA Biodiversity and Ecological Forecasting Program (Climate and Biological Response, grant no. NNH10ZFA001N) to study Trophic Interactions in the Intermountain West.  This project was a collaborative effort between USGS, University of Maryland, and Utah State University to research the links between weather/climate, plant phenology/productivity, ungulates, and their primary predator.  Her research focused on improving the ability to interpret GPS telemetry datasets to provide underlying information about animal behavior, such as caching, migration, and home range use, that cannot be observed directly. 

Born and raised in Sonora, CA, a small town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Kirsten has had a longtime fascination with biogeography and began mapping invasive plant species as a senior project in high school.  She attended California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo studying plant ecology and graduated in 2002 with a B.S. in Ecology and Systematic Biology.   She went on to work at University of California, Riverside on a collaborative project with California Fish and Game Natural Heritage Program to map plant communities and wildlife habitat in southern California.  In 2006, she received a M.S. degree in Environmental Science and Policy from Northern Arizona University, where she studied paleoecological vegetation change using a series of fossil packrat middens from Wupatki National Monument.