Graduate Student Spotlight: Jake Harvey

Jake Harvey with a mountain lion.
Jake Harvey with a mountain lion.

Prior to joining the School of Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Jake Harvey worked as a mountain lion research technician for the Institute for Wildlife Studies on True Wild and Audubon Canyon Ranch’s Living with Lions project in northern California. After receiving approval to transition his involvement on the project to a graduate student, Harvey developed potential thesis questions and pitched his ideas to a field of researchers at the California Mountain Lion Researchers Workshop where he met his advisor, Dr. John Benson. Prior to committing to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Jake applied for the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP). Partway through his first semester at UNL, Jake was among the 10% of 15,000 graduate applicants awarded the prestigious GRFP. The 3-year fellowship is accompanied by a tuition waiver, monthly stipend, and cost of education funds used to cover miscellaneous project costs. In this interview, Jake speaks about his academic program, passion for mountain lions, and the life of a new graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Q. Jake, what’s your study about?
Broadly, we hope to better understand mountain lion behavior and movement in a human-dominated landscape. My thesis involves analyzing mountain lion diet, space use, and energetics in California’s San Francisco North Bay. Much remains unknown of mountain lions in this urban system as the complex fragmented landscape has altered mountain lion behavior with insufficient information pertaining to local ecology and habits. I seek to assist in gaining a better understanding of mountain lion ecology to inform management decisions and educate the community to promote coexistence and long-term conservation of mountain lions, as well as their prey and habitats.

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