Leanne Heisler

PhD candidate
Supervisors: Dr. Somers and Dr. Poulin

Office: Royal Saskatchewan Museum
E-mail: leanneheisler@hotmail.com
Phone: 306-541-3819

Research interests

Impacts of agriculture on rodent diversity.

Impacts of agriculture on rodent diversity

The influence of agriculture on grassland biodiversity is little understood, particularly for small conspicuous rodents. Conversion of natural habitat for agricultural use results in the direct loss of habitat for many species, as well as the fragmentation of remaining habitat. Species respond differently to these effects depending on life history traits. I hypothesize that the loss and fragmentation of grassland habitat imposed by agriculture has differentially affected rodent species distributions, depending on species-specific affinity towards grassland habitat. I will use a combination of abundance estimates from rodent prey remains in owl pellets and spatial analyses to identify the change in individual species distributions and community diversity since agricultural conversion. I expect grassland specialists to exhibit negative responses to agricultural conversion, while I expect habitat generalists to exhibit no response or positive responses. These results will quantitatively evaluate change in the spatial distributions of an entire taxonomic group following agricultural conversion.


Heisler LM, CM Somers, and RG Poulin. 2016. Owl pellets: an effective alternative to conventional trapping for large-scale studies of small mammal diversity. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 7: 96-103.

Somers CM, LM Heisler, JL Doucette, VA Kjoss, and RM Brigham. 2015. Lake use by three avian piscivores and humans: implications for angler perception and conservation. The Open Ornithology Journal 8: 10-21.

Heisler LM, CM Somers, and RG Poulin. 2014. Rodent populations on the northern Great Plains respond to weather variation at a landscape scale. Journal of Mammalogy 95: 82-90.

Heisler LM, CM Somers, TI Wellicome, and RG Poulin. 2013. Landscape-scale features affecting small mammal assemblages on the northern Great Plains of North America. Journal of Mammalogy 94: 1059-1067.