Michael Cherry's research focuses on understanding factors influencing wildlife populations and how managers can manipulate those processes to meet their objectives. Cherry conducts applied research investigating topics including wildlife-habitat interactions, predator-prey ecology, and ungulate ecology and management. He is interested in how behavioral and physiological traits of individual animals link to demographic parameters and community interactions.
White-tailed deer in southern Florida are a treasured game resource and are the primary prey of the critically endangered Florida panther. The South Florida Deer Study is a multifaceted research collaboration involving Virginia Tech, University of Georgia, The Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service investigating factors influencing deer population dynamics in in the primary range of the Florida panther. The goal of this project is to gain a better understanding of the factors that influence white-tailed deer population trends in South Florida and to develop a methodology that allows for monitoring deer populations.
We are working at the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center to understand the effects of fire and timber management practices on the spatial ecology of coyotes, gray foxes, and raccoons. The primary object of this work is understand how forest management influences the spatial ecology of predators. Our goal is to understand how prescribed fire, mesic hardwood removal from longleaf pine dominated uplands, and other habitat alterations influence carnivores and their probability of predating white-tailed deer, bobwhite quail, wild turkey, and ground nesting birds and reptiles of conservation concern.
White-tailed deer are the most economically important game species in Virginia and much of North America. State agencies need methods for estimating population parameters that are reliable, sensitive to small changes in populations and easy to implement. Camera trapping has become a popular option for sportsmen and agencies because they are relatively inexpensive, easy to implement, and are effective in a wide variety of habitats types. We are working on statistical and field methods to improve our inference from this commonly collected data.