Nathan D Van Schmidt, Ph.D.

Nathan Van Schmidt is a landscape ecologist at the Fort Collins Science Center. Nathan's research focuses on understanding how wildlife, their habitats, and human management of working landscapes function as a complex socio-ecological system. 

Biography

I am a landscape ecologist focused on understanding how wildlife, their habitats, and human management of working landscapes functions as a complex socio-ecological system. I have an emphasis on the influence of how water resources act as a nexus between social and ecological processes on landscapes. I utilize a variety of interdisciplinary spatial analysis methods including hierarchical, agent-based, and state-and-transition models.

My current work focuses on sage grouse and sagebrush ecosystems. Other recent work includes a collaboration with the USGS LUCAS team to model how regulating groundwater pumping for sustainability alters land-use change patterns in California and subsequently, ecological and human communities’ vulnerability under climate change.

My PhD was in the Beissinger Lab at UC-Berkeley where I studied how rancher irrigation decision-making maintained wetlands via “waste” water, and used complex simulation modeling to assess how new water policies designed to conserve water in climate change-induced extreme droughts put the threatened California black rail at risk of regional extirpation. Before that, I completed my BS at University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked afterwards in worked on adaptive management of the reintroduction of the Whooping Crane’s eastern migratory population via habitat selection functions that assessed the use of Wisconsin farmlands as a supplementary food source for nesting whooping cranes.