Environmental Influences on Animal Behavior and Survival

The goal of this research is to understand the influences of the environment on animal behavior to help support animal preservation and conservation efforts. An organism’s behavioral range is deeply rooted in its physiology and represents a link between physiology and the environment. Behaviors can be linked to development, biochemistry, and molecular mechanisms—all of which influence behavior. Behavior is not a random process. It is a collection of structured responses that can be predicted and characterized into behavioral models. These behaviors serve the purpose of maximizing fitness and survival of individuals within a population, and ultimately the survival of populations and species. Data collected in this project will be shared with collaborators and used to create computer models and simulations that will be used to assess the risk of stressors to specific animal populations and species.

The Effect of Chronic Ankle Instability on Foot Kinematics and Lower Extremity Muscle Function During Walking and Step Descent

The purpose of this study is to investigate differences in foot kinematics (motion) between participants with and without chronic ankle instability (CAI) while walking and descending a step. A high percentage (30-75%) of persons suffering an ankle injury will continue to have recurring problems such as CAI and CAI is one of the two primary precipitating traumas associated with ankle osteoarthritis. Further, over a quarter of the estimated five to 10 million ankle injuries that occur in the next year will be the result of a fall from steps and persons with CAI frequently report difficulty with step negotiation. Identifying both the kinematic and muscle activity deficits associated with CAI during walking gait and step descent may enable clinicians to more specifically tailor ankle rehabilitation programs to reduce recurrent injuries.