Luke is a doctoral student in the Center for Conservation Biology. He primarily focuses on the evolutionary consequences of anthropogenic global change. His research interests can be divided into three major questions: i) How does global change alter phylogenetic community diversity and structure? ii) What ecological traits preadapt species to tolerate or thrive alongside human impacts? iii) What are the prospects for contemporary evolution to generate adaptation to human disturbances?
He addresses these questions using the amphibian, reptile, and avian communities in the human dominated landscape of Coto Brus, in southern Costa Rica. However, he has primarily focused on a pair of closely related Neotropical leaf litter frogs in the genus Craugastor that have contrasting responses to tropical deforestation in the Coto Brus valley. Craugastor crassidigitus is restricted to forest habitat, while Craugastor fitzingeri is found exclusively in open pastures, coffee plantations, urban areas. This species pair allows specific hypotheses regarding the causes and consequences of contrasting tolerance to anthropogenic habitats to be tested, and then validated with the larger herpetofaunal community in the region. By understanding the ecological features that allow some species to thrive after anthropogenic disturbance we can tailor conservation strategies to make human dominated landscapes more hospitable to wildlife generally, and glimpse how humans are redirecting the evolutionary trajectory of Earth’s biota.
- Frishkoff, LO, DS Karp, LK M'Gonigle, CD Mendenhall, J Zook, C Kremen, EA Hadly, and GC Daily. 2014. Loss of avian phylogentic diversity in neotropical agricultural systems. Science 345 (6202),1343-1346.
- Mendenhall, CD, LO Frishkoff, G Santos-Barrera, J Pacheco, E Mesfun, F Mendoza Quijano, PR Ehrlich, G Ceballos, GC Daily, and RM Pringle. 2014. Countryside biogeography of a neotropical herpetofauna. Ecology 95 (4), 856-870.