Sam Merker

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Neat Photo: Female Canada Warbler on a nest on a 1200m elevation plot in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina.

What I do (Roughly): I am working on my M.S. investigating factors that limit species distributions at their low-latitude (warm-edge) range limit. Considering that it is a fundamental question in ecology, little is known about what factors limit species distributions at the warm-edge. A lot of work has been done on this question but there are few studies that provide direct answers. Its of even greater importance to have a mechanistic understanding of these factors because of the observed shift in species ranges, seemingly as a result of climate change. Many believe that abiotic factors such as temperature and precipitation primarily limit species distributions while others believe that it is biotic factors like competition. In my research I employ different field experiments and observations combined with sophisticated modeling to account for the potential interaction between abiotic and biotic factors in limiting species distributions at the warm-edge.

Before all this: I worked as a field tech for 11 seasons studying birds of all shapes and sizes in different states and countries. In my free time I play ultimate frisbee, play guitar and drums, read science fiction, and delve into the deepest realms of heavy metal I can find.


Me (the one clearly taking a selfy), Angela, and Alex banding songbirds in NC