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Ralph Grundel, PhD

Ralph Grundel is an Ecologist based in Chesterton, IN.

Ralph Grundel is a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, Great Lakes Science Center in Porter, Indiana.  He received his Ph.D. in zoology from The University of Texas at Austin where he studied the foraging ecology of the Mountain Chickadee, a feisty bird that loves high places.  Ralph earned his B.A. in Biology from Wesleyan University and completed postdoctoral training in cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley. Ralph does research on how climate change affects animal and plant populations and on how we might improve conservation and restoration of savannas, a highly threatened habitat present in the Midwest U.S.  His work on savanna restoration emphasizes how animal and plant populations might change as savannas are restored.  This includes examining amphibian, bee, bird, butterfly, reptile, and vascular plant responses to changes in tree density and fire frequency.  Changing tree density through the use of fire is an important way in which savannas are restored so understanding animal and plant responses to that fire management is key to understanding how savanna restoration will proceed.  Ralph also studies the effects of restoration on the Karner blue butterfly, a federally listed endangered species that inhabits oak savannas in the Midwest and Northeast.  He is currently examining how climate change might affect the survival of Karner blues through a series of experiments on captive Karner blues, field studies, and genetic analyses.  In addition to studying how climate change might affect the Karner blue, Ralph also is a lead investigator researching how climate change might affect native bee populations across the National Park system, and how bird communities are responding to landscape and climate changes across the U.S.

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