Rebecca Taylor, Ph.D.

Biography

Education

Ph.D.       2009       Montana State University-Bozeman, MT         Fish and Wildlife Biology
M.S.        2008        Montana State University-Bozeman, MT        Statistics
M.S.        2001        Montana State University-Bozeman, MT        Land Resources and Environmental Sciences
B.S.        1991         University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI             Natural Science with majors in Wildlife Ecology and Zoology

As a Principle Investigator and Research Statistician, I create science to support critical management decisions for hard to study species in a changing environment. Such situations produce data that tend to be sparse, biased and/or imprecise, and have large knowledge gaps. Thus, I specialize in modifying state-of-the-art analytical and computational approaches for complex problems and intractable data, as well as creating new statistical theory and techniques when existing methods are inadequate. I routinely use Bayesian and frequentist paradigms. 

Species Studied

My career-long species affiliations have varied across the plant and animal kingdoms, but my USGS research centers on marine mammals. I maintain a strong, decade-long collaboration with walrus researchers at USGS, USFWS and ADFG, and I have recently expanded my work to include collaborative sea otter and polar bear research.

Three-year goals

My highest priority goals include five different projects to estimate Pacific walrus abundance (while also refining estimates of their demographic rates and population trend). The Department of Interior needs population size and status  information to manage this trust species which is an important resource for native subsistence hunters, is protected and managed under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and was an endangered species candidate until the 2017 decision not to list—a decision which is being litigated by the Center for Biological Diversity.  I also have ongoing demographic work using age-at-death distributions to estimate vital rates, in addition to mechanistic modeling for other species of concern.