Who we are
We are a diverse lab group at the University of Washington, Tacoma interested in understanding how wild vertebrates – carnivores in particular – thrive and adapt in cities. We work closely with other neighboring universities and labs, local government agencies, non-profit organizations, and cultural institutions, most notably the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Woodland Park Zoo, Metro Parks Tacoma, Northwest Trek, the Urban Ecology Lab at UW-Seattle, and the Urban Wildlife Information Network (UWIN). Through our collaborative network, we are able to ask and answer fundamental questions in urban ecology and evolution that get at the core of urban adaptation.
What we do
Urban ecosystems have a suite of selective pressures not observed in rural or natural habitats. As a result, we may expect that individuals in cities display divergent phenotypes relative to their counterparts in more natural environments. To uncover how these selective agents influence urban and rural carnivores, the Schell lab uses an integrative approach that combines noninvasive monitoring with individual assessment and community participation. Specifically, we employ a variety of methods – from motion-triggered cameras, to live trapping and collar work, GIS, and community science – to determine how anthropogenic factors in the Pacific Northwest affect carnivore ecology and life history traits. In so doing, we hope to uncover how eco-evolutionary processes contribute to affecting carnivore evolution, which has several implications for wildlife management and human-wildlife conflict.
Both internal and external funding organizations have contributed to the initiation and success of our research, including the University of Washington and the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. It is through this funding that we are able to create impactful studies that contribute to general biological theory and application.