Dr. Paul Stapp


Department of Biological Science

California State University

Fullerton, CA  92831

Office: 207E McCarthy Hall

Lab: 338 McCarthy Hall

Phone: 657.278.2849

Fax: 657.278.3426

Email: pstapp@fullerton.edu



CSUF Vertebrate Ecology and Conservation Lab group


Information for Prospective MS applicants


Courses taught at CSUF (since 2002):

BIOL274  Principles of Physiology and Ecology            

BIOL314  Population and Community Ecology

BIOL316  Principles of Ecology 

BIOL318  Wildlife Conservation

BIOL478  Mammalogy

BIOL500AB  Professional Aspects of Biology (Graduate)

BIOL517T  Graduate Seminar In Ecological and Organismic Biology (various topics)



My work has focused on the population and community ecology of terrestrial vertebrates, particularly mammals and other wildlife, and applications of basic ecological principles to conservation and natural resources management problems.  I am principally a field ecologist, although I have used laboratory experiments and computer modeling to address questions that are not tractable with field approaches.  Most of my field work has been conducted in arid and semi-arid environments, and in agricultural or other human-impacted systems.  Broadly, my research addresses questions such as:


How does landscape composition and context affect wildlife populations and species interactions?


How is individual behavior translated into patterns at population and community levels?


How do invasive and exotic species, including pathogens, affect natural systems?


What is the role of direct and indirect species interactions in determining patterns in local communities?


How do animals affect the structure and functioning of ecosystems?


What are the consequences of land-use practices for the persistence of native populations and communities?


Some recent and ongoing projects:


Ecology of prairie dog colonies

Prairie dogs have important ecological effects on grassland ecosystems but their populations are threatened by human activities (urbanization, shooting, poisoning) and sylvatic plague.  From 1997-1999, I directed comparative studies of the ecological effects of prairie dogs on plant and animal communities in shortgrass prairie.  In addition to completing this work, my collaborators at Colorado State University and Centers for Disease Control and I recently completed a study of the ecology of plague of small mammals and their fleas in prairie dog colonies, which was funded by a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation.  You can learn more about our research at the Plague Page kept by Mike Antolin at CSU. (Photo by Lars Hansen)




Livestock grazing as a tool for managing semi-arid grasslands for wildlife

The ecological effects of livestock grazing are controversial, but grazing may be beneficial for some species that evolved with native grazers.  With Justin Derner and David Augustine at the USDA Agricultural Research Service, we have been conducting large-scale experimental studies of the potential utility of using cattle to provide critical habitat for species of concern.  My students and I, in particular, are examining the effects of altering the timing and intensity of grazing on mammals, birds and arthropods in shortgrass prairie, and comparing responses to areas with traditional summer grazing, prairie dog colonies, and long-term grazing exclosures.  (Photo by Justin Derner)



Long-term population studies of grassland mammals

In collaboration with the Shortgrass Steppe Long-Term Ecological Research project at Colorado State University, I am continuing to conduct long-term studies of small mammal and carnivore populations and their habitat and food resources in shortgrass prairie of north-central Colorado.  These studies, which began in 1994, allow us to track long-term temporal trends of mammal populations in the region and provide baseline information to support other SGS-LTER research projects.  They form part of a network of LTER sites located in arid and semi-arid grasslands, which can be used to evaluate the effects of climatic variation and land-use such as grazing on wildlife populations.  (Photo by Lars Hansen)




Food webs and species interactions on islands and complex landscapes

Island systems are widely recognized as natural laboratories for studying the effects of isolation and patch size on evolution of populations and communities; however, they also are model systems for studying the flow of nutrients, energy and organisms across ecological boundaries.  A fundamental concept that has emerged from these and similar studies is that resource subsidies, inputs of resources from outside the boundaries of one system, may have significant direct and indirect effects on populations and communities in adjacent or connected systems.  My postdoctoral research with the late Gary Polis focused on how spatial (marine resources) and temporal (pulsed rainfall associated with El Niño events) subsidies affect insular rodent populations and their interactions with each other, their resources and predators on small, barren islands.  Future research will investigate the effects of subsidies in terrestrial ecosystems, especially in landscapes where adjacent patches differ dramatically in productivity or other ecosystem properties (agricultural mosaics, fire-prone systems, urbanized vs. natural systems).  (Photo by April Boulton)



Effects of exotic species on native species and ecosystems

The effects of invasive species are second only to habitat loss as a cause of threats to native wildlife populations and ecosystems.  Many exotic predators are subsidized directly by humans, or indirectly, by human modifications to the environment.  My students and I have been investigating the ecology of exotic predators such as feral cats and rats on islands.  Past projects include an experimental study of the efficacy of sterilization as a method of reducing numbers of feral cats on Catalina Island, in the California Channel Islands, and an examination of the consumption of seabirds by black rats in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, which I conducted while at the University of York.  As a postdoc at the University of Wyoming with Greg Hayward, I developed a matrix demographic model to examine potential impacts of the recent introduction of piscivorous lake trout on native cutthroat trout in Yellowstone Lake.  (Photo by Darcee Guttilla)  



Selected Publications:


Kraft, J.P, & P. Stapp. Movements and burrow use by northern grasshopper mice as a possible mechanism of plague spread in prairie dog colonies. Journal of Mammalogy, in press.
Rebollo, S., D.G. Milchunas, P. Stapp, D.J. Augustine, & J.D. Derner. 2013. Disproportionate effects of non-colonial small herbivores on structure and diversity of grassland 
dominated by large herbivores. Oikos, in press. 
Salkeld, D.J., M. Salathé, P. Stapp & J.H. Jones. 2010. Plague outbreaks in prairie dog populations: percolation thresholds of alternate host abundance explain epizootics.  
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 21:2933-2943.  pdf
Franklin, H.A., P. Stapp & A. Cohen. 2010. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) identification of rodent blood meals confirms host sharing by flea vectors of plague. 
Journal of Vector Ecology 35:363-371.  pdf
Guttilla, D.A., & P. Stapp. 2010. Effects of sterilization on movements of feral cats at an urban-wildland interface. Journal of Mammalogy 91:482-489.  pdf
Stapp, P., & D.J. Salkeld. 2009. Inferring host-parasite feeding relationships using stable isotopes: implications for disease transmission and host specificity. Ecology 90:3268-73.  pdf

Stapp, P., D.J. Salkeld, H.A. Franklin, J.P. Kraft, D.W. Tripp, M.F. Antolin & K.L. Gage. 2009. Evidence for the involvement of an alternative rodent host in the dynamics of plague in prairie dogs. Journal of Animal Ecology 78:807-817. pdf

Derner, J.D., W.K. Lauenroth, P. Stapp & D.J. Augustine. 2009. Livestock as ecosystem engineers: Bird habitat in the western Great Plains. Rangeland Ecology and Management 62:111-118.  pdf

Stapp, P., D.J. Salkeld, R.J Eisen, R. Pappert, J. Young, L.G. Carter, K.L. Gage, D.W. Tripp & M.F. Antolin. 2008. Exposure of small rodents to plague during black-tailed 
prairie dog epizootics. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 44:724-730.  pdf
Stapp, P., B. Van Horne, & M.D. Lindquist. 2008. Ecology of mammals of shortgrass steppe. Pp. 132-180 in: Ecology of shortgrass steppe: perspectives from long-term studies 
(I.C. Burke & W.K. Lauenroth, eds.).  Oxford Univ. Press.  pdf
Anderson, W.B., D.A. Wait, & P. Stapp. 2008. Resources from another place and time: Community responses to pulses in a spatially subsidized system. 
Ecology 89:660-670.  pdf

Millus, S.A., & P. Stapp. 2008. Interactions between seabirds and endemic deer mouse populations on Santa Barbara Island, California. Canadian Journal of Zoology 86:1031-1041. pdf

Millus, S.A., P. Stapp, & P. Martin. 2007. Experimental control of a native predator may improve breeding success of a threatened seabird in the California Channel Islands.
Biological Conservation 138:484-492.  pdf 
Stapp, P. 2007. Rodent communities in active and inactive colonies of black-tailed prairie dogs in shortgrass steppe. Journal of Mammalogy 88:241-249.  pdf

Holmgren, M, P. Stapp, C.R. Dickman, C. Gracia, S. Graham, J.R. Gutiérrez, C. Hice, F. Jaksic, D.A. Kelt, M. Letnic, M. Lima, B.C. López, P.L. Meserve, W.B. Milstead, G.A. Polis, M.A. Previtali, M. Richter, S. Sabaté & F.A. Squeo. 2006. Extreme climatic events shape arid and semiarid ecosystems.  Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 4:87-95.  pdf



Stapp, P., M.F. Antolin & M. Ball. 2004. Patterns of extinction in prairie dog metapopulations: plague outbreaks follow El Niño events.  Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 2:235-240.  pdf



Stapp, P., & G.A. Polis. 2003. Influence of pulsed resources and marine subsidies on insular rodent populations. Oikos 102:111-123.  pdf



Stapp, P., & G.A. Polis. 2003. Marine resources subsidize insular rodent populations in the Gulf of California, Mexico. Oecologia 134:496-504.  pdf



Stapp, P. 2002. Stable isotopes reveal evidence of predation by ship rats on seabirds on the Shiant Islands, Scotland. Journal of Applied Ecology 39:831-840.  pdf



Stapp, P., & G.D. Hayward. 2002. Effects of an introduced piscivore on native trout: Insights from a demographic model. Biological Invasions 4:299-316.  pdf



Roach, J.L., P. Stapp, B. Van Horne & M.F. Antolin. 2001. Genetic structure of a metapopulation of black-tailed prairie dogs. Journal of Mammalogy 82:946-959.  pdf



Stapp, P., G.A. Polis, & F. Sánchez Piñero. 1999. Stable isotopes reveal strong marine and El Niño effects on island food webs. Nature 401:467-469.  pdf



Stapp, P. 1998. A reevaluation of the role of prairie dogs in Great Plains grasslands. Conservation Biology 12:1253-1259.  pdf



Stapp, P. 1997. Community structure of shortgrass-prairie rodents: competition or risk of intraguild predation? Ecology 78:1519-1530.  pdf



Stapp, P., & B. Van Horne. 1997. Response of deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) to shrubs in shortgrass prairie: linking small-scale movements and the spatial distribution of individuals. Functional Ecology 11:644-651.  pdf



Stapp, P. 1997. Habitat selection by an insectivorous rodent: patterns and mechanisms across multiple scales. Journal of Mammalogy 78:1128-1143.  pdf


Updated May 2013