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Arizona Conservation Science

The Nature Conservancy’s conservation science program in Arizona engages stakeholders and expertise in applied science and policy to develop new information, ideas, and tools that can help solve some of our most pressing challenges affecting people and nature

Our Small Team in Arizona

Marcos Robles
Lead Scientist
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Marcos Robles has worked at The Nature Conservancy’s Arizona Chapter for 17 years where he is the lead scientist. He leads a team of scientists to complete applied science studies that demonstrate the impacts of the chapter’s conservation strategies in Arizona’s forests, rivers, and grasslands. The team also sets priorities for new conservation initiatives and develops foundational science to help cities, energy utilities and land management agencies adapt to and mitigate climate change impacts. While most of the scientific work is focused within Arizona, he has initiated regional studies to evaluate climate and ecological forest management effects on forests and water resources across the West.

Trained as an ecosystem ecologist, Marcos has worked in conservation science for 20 years. Prior to joining the Conservancy, he worked on regional to national scale projects as a conservation scientist for NatureServe. Marcos obtained his Masters degree in Ecology from Colorado State University, assessing conservation effects on soils in semi-arid grasslands, and a Bachelors of Arts degree in Environmental Science at University of California at Berkeley.

Marcos is located in our Tucson office

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Gita Bodner, PhD
Conservation Ecologist
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Gita’s focus with The Conservancy is on helping land managers identify and fill their biological information needs and tie this information back into decision making. A major part of this work has been partnering with the Bureau of Land Management to design more informative and efficient ecological monitoring for the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area near Tucson, AZ.

Gita got her start as an Ecologist as a child in the woods of northern New Mexico. She has been active in conservation of the Sky Island-Apache Highlands region since 1993, doing teaching, outreach, policy, and science work with several schools and non-profits. Her Ph.D. research on biodiversity and systematics of tropical jumping spiders indulged her love of the little things that run the planet and taught her to make the most of limited data about an unlimited world.

Gita is located in our Tucson Office

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Travis Woolley
Interim Forest Director/Forest Ecologist
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Travis uses an understanding of ecological relationships in forested ecosystems and sampling/monitoring expertise to design and implement science-informed adaptive management and monitoring programs. In a collaborative framework, he also develops and applies a variety of techniques and practices that promote innovation in monitoring, modeling, and the use of science-based information in decision-making.

Trained as a Forest Ecologist, Travis was introduced to monitoring through his time working at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest. Here he gained an appreciation for Long Term Ecological Research and the value it can bring to management decisions. Before coming to The Nature Conservancy, Travis worked as a Faculty Research Assistant for The College of Forestry, Oregon State University, designing and implementing research projects examining a variety of forest health issues. Examples of research include snag creation for wildlife habitat, disease environment interactions, old-growth vs. re-growth forest structure, post-fire tree mortality, and bark beetle and fire interactions.

Travis is located in our Flagstaff office.

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Lisa McCauley, PhD
Spatial Scientist
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Lisa serves as the spatial scientist lead on projects in the AZ Chapter. She uses science-based tools, spatial and statistical analyses, and spatial data collection to advance the Chapter’s conservation strategies and demonstrate their impact. Lisa has been with TNC since 2015 and has led multiple studies evaluating the co-benefits of large-scale forest restoration, including carbon and drought mortality under climate change. She works with multiple conservation programs to collect and analyze spatial data and leads the science team on mapping and quantifying our 2030 goals and progress.

Lisa has a PhD in Conservation Biology with experience in spatial and statistical analyses, landscape ecology, GIS, climate modeling, and landscape modeling. Her past projects include studying the effects of agriculture on isolated wetlands loss and hydrology, the effect of urbanization of cypress wetlands, and the effects of climate change on grassland bird distributions.

Lisa is located in our Tucson office

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Jessie Pearl, PhD
Freshwater Scientist
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Jessie provides scientific support to inform freshwater conservation planning, strategies and priorities. Additionally, she develops and pursues scientific investigations that anticipate future changes in climate, hydrology, and ecosystem resilience and demonstrate impacts of conservation practices at regional scale. Ultimately this research is used to catalyze policies, funding, and partnerships.

Jessie’s academic background is in paleoclimate, geochronology, geohydrology, and dendrochronology. She received her PhD from the University of Arizona where her dissertation used tree-ring records to reconstruct climate and extreme events in the northeastern United States. Her postdoctoral work with the US Geological Survey utilized her expertise in dendrochronology and geochronology to more precisely date past earthquake events in Cascadia.

Jessie is located in our Tucson office

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Patrick Hellmann
GIS Specialist

Patrick’s role within The Conservancy is to provide support for the Science and other Conservation teams with Geographic Information Systems (GIS). His major duties include supporting the wet/dry mapping program, geodatabase development, producing maps, and GIS support and troubleshooting.

Patrick has a MS in Geographic Information Systems Technology with experience in geodatabase development, cartography, ecological monitoring and botany. He previously worked on post-wildfire rehabilitation monitoring , fuels treatment effectiveness monitoring, and Greater Sage-Grouse habitat improvement projects.

Patrick is located in our Tucson Office