Jerod Benefield

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Academic Endeavors

I am currently a junior level undergraduate with the school of forestry at Northern Arizona University. My academic focus revolves around wildlife ecology and management. I am interested in a broad range of wildlife issues and taxa, and am fortunate to be involved with many aspects of the natural science arena. My course work and volunteering opportunities have introduced me to the fields of ornithology, entomology, mammalogy, and forest health management. While my current undergraduate research involves forest insect communities, I look forward to continuing my education in the broad fields of natural resource management.

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2012-2013 URM Research

My undergraduate research explores community assemblages of soil and litter food webs, specifically in terms of macroarthropod community responses to forest management operations. Forest thinning is a common tool used by forest managers to ameliorate the effects of historic fire-suppression in forests of the southwestern United States. As higher level consumers of primary decomposers within forest soil ecosystems, predaceous macroarthropods such as spiders and beetles indirectly affect nutrient cycling within the broader forest ecosystems. My research goals are to measure soil and litter insect community responses to mechanical thinning within ponderosa pine forests of northern Arizona. Understanding how these lower trophic level organisms respond to mechanical thinning will allow forest managers to project the impacts of thinning to broader ecosystem processes.

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About myself

Growing up in urban Phoenix, AZ, I quickly gained an appreciation and fascination with wild places. If I could not be outside poking at nature, I wanted to be inside reading about it. Living in Flagstaff, AZ and attending the forestry program at NAU has greatly increased my love of everything outdoors and most of my hobbies take me there. I am blessed to have met amazing students and professors at NAU, who have given me so many opportunities to learn and teach within the disciplines of natural science. I live my beautiful wife, Kristie, and our dynamic cat and dog duo, Lemon & Emma.

*I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Dr. Karen Haubensak, Dr. Richard Hofstetter, Anita Antoninka, Dwight Clark, and Tiffany Falluca for their continuing guidance and encouragement. Very little research is truly independent and my efforts reflect the unending support from my friends and mentors.