Dr. Melanie Davis

I am Assistant Unit Leader with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Oregon State University. Although most of my current research is centered on salmonid species, it was actually my love for herpetology that jump-started my scientific career. Growing up in central Ohio, I spent much of my time chasing snakes, salamanders, and frogs around my backyard. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to study a variety of species and systems, from anurans to ungulates to zooplankton. The common thread that ties my work together is the integration of quantitative methods, landscape-scale analyses, and species-habitat relationships. I am passionate about applied ecology and the ways in which it can positively influence management decisions and outcomes. When I’m not staring at R code and herding my students around, I enjoy going for hikes with my family, camping, writing, arts and crafts, and playing board games with friends. My biggest accomplishments in life are creating my son from scratch (mostly from a diet of chocolate milk and cantaloupe) and through-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

Current Members

Carina Kusaka – MS

I received a B.S. in Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology from Colorado State University, where I studied behavioral and movement ecology of reptiles. My graduate research in the Davis lab at OSU is focused on the tufted puffin, a Species of Greatest Conservation Need along the Oregon Coast. I am conducting spatial analyses to examine changes in the relationship between suitable breeding habitat and population viability of tufted puffins over time. Being born and raised in Hawai’i has helped me develop a passion for wildlife conservation, as well as a strong interest in finding ways to involve, retain, and support underrepresented groups in ecology. 

Anna Kennedy – MS

I grew up on the coast of Northern California and received a B.S. in Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology from the University of California, Davis. I’ve had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects since then, including research on avian population biology and migration, coastal wetIand vulnerability to sea-level rise, and wetland plant communities.

My graduate research focuses on analyzing geomorphological and biological change in restored tidal wetlands of the Nisqually River Delta in Washington state. I will be conducting spatial analyses using remote sensing (LiDAR) and field survey datasets to quantify change and characterize the plant community. Additionally, I am interested in a spatial analysis of waterbird habitat use. This project is a partnership between the Davis lab in the Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at OSU, the U.S. Geological Survey Western Ecological Research Center, and the Nisqually Indian Tribe.

Aleah Dew – MS

I am working toward a Master’s degree here at the Oregon State University Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation. I am working with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to determine whether eDNA can be used to effectively gauge relative abundance of target species including both native (Modoc sucker, Pit-Klamath brook lamprey, Pit roach, Pit sculpin) and endemic (Goose Lake redband trout, Goose Lake lamprey, Goose Lake tui chub, Goose Lake sucker) in the Goose Lake Basin down in Southeastern Oregon. I hope to relate abundance and distribution to site-specific environmental characteristics, with my goal being to forecast changes in aquatic community structure given projected increases in the frequency of drought events. This project aims to provide information on how native and non-native species distribution have shifted over time, and how they might change given future climactic conditions. In addition to graduate school duties, I have also been knitting a sweater with a hotdog on it.

Katie Kennedy – MS

I’m a MS student in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Sciences. I plan to work with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to analyze and characterize remote sensing data and other spatial data of juvenile steelhead and adult coho salmon. I hope to develop models which will inform habitat management practices for these species, particularly under the potential conditions and changes due to climate change effects. 

Jacob Dickey – PSM

I am a graduate student working towards a Masters in Professional Science in Fish and Wildlife Administration. My area of interest currently is aquatic biology, specifically expanding on knowledge regarding the Goose Lake Lamprey. I completed a B.S. in Fish Wildlife and Conservation Biology at Colorado State University in 2019. Originally from the midwest (Kansas City), I have had the ability to work in different places on a variety of projects including shorebird protection on Cape Cod, Hawaiian forest bird data archival, and native fish sampling in south central Oregon.

Gabriella Brill – MS

I grew up in the high desert of Southern California, until I moved to Oregon for the rain where I received my B.S. in Environmental Biology from Pacific University. I have years of in-field research experience with multiple salmonid species and with Pacific White Sturgeon. My graduate research is focused on habitat use and seasonal movements of Pacific White Sturgeon in the John Day Reservoir of the Columbia River. My personal life revolves around my adventure dog, my 8 year-old Alaskan Malamute who encourages me to explore all rivers, lakes, and beaches as often as possible.

Hayden Miles – MS

I was raised in a multi-generational family of Oregon “Coasties” composed of passionate outdoorsmen and women. This upbringing most often opted for time outside over time behind a screen, immersed in timber rather than a city, and in a boat instead of a car. This background cultivated a strong connection to the landscapes and critters of my great state.

Since receiving my BS from OSU in 2018 I have been looking forward to the opportunity to further my education. After an impactful stint with the Oregon Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Western Wildlife Research team I’ve found a fitting place and project in the Davis Species and Habitat Lab. My research is focused on the response of wildlife to wildfire in the Cascade Mountains of Western Oregon. Data for my study is being collected in the burn scars of the 2020 Archie Creek Fire and the 2020 Beachie Creek Fire. My career goals and the goals of this project are nearly exact, to provide forest and wildlife managers with the information they need to ensure the longevity of wildlife in the face of ever-changing climate and disturbance regimes.

Previous Members

Emma Hultin – Field Crew Lead, 2022

Natalie Godwin – VIEW Intern, 2022

Henry Persily – GIS Intern, 2022

Vanessa Ramirez – VIEW Intern, 2021

Nicholas Morvillo – Beginning Undergraduate Researcher, 2021