Dr. Sharon Collinge’s research is based primarily in grassland ecosystems of the American West. She integrates theories and methods of conservation biology, restoration ecology, and landscape ecology to examine how changing landscapes affect plant and animal movement, population dynamics, and interactions among species. Her research centers on how habitat loss and fragmentation affect persistence and diversity of organisms such as grassland butterflies and beetles in riparian woodlands. She studies how landscape change influences the dynamics of infectious diseases, specifically the impacts of landscape alteration on plague dynamics in prairie dogs. Dr. Collinge’s work also uses ecological theory to guide efforts to restore native ecosystems that have been degraded by human activities. Her large-scale restoration experiment with vernal pool plant communities examines factors that influence the formation and dynamics of these imperiled plant assemblages. Dr. Collinge’s work demonstrates that landscape structure can strongly influence the diversity and abundance of native species as well as the characteristics of interactions among species.
Dr. Collinge is an active participant in the University of Colorado’s Center of the American West, an interdisciplinary center that integrates perspectives from the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences to inform Westerners about public policy. She coedited the Center’s 2009 collection of essays, Remedies for a New West. Dr. Collinge recently served a term as Member-at-Large for the Ecological Society of America and has served as a delegate and faculty resource person for the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS). She provides scientific advice for local and national nonprofit organizations on habitat conservation and restoration issues and for government agencies on matters related to endangered species and habitat protection.