Christian Che-Castaldo

Research Scientist, Mount St. Helens Institute


I am a quantitative ecologist with the Mount St. Helens Institute and Pacific Northwest Research Station where I work with USFS ecologist Charlie Crisafulli to model the spread of amphibian, small mammal, and insect species colonizing Mount St. Helens after the 1980 eruption. Prior to being back in the Pacific Northwest, I worked as a Postdoctoral Associate with Heather Lynch at Stony Brook University to build the the MAPPPD website database and develop continental-scale predictive models of Pygoscelid penguin abundance.

My research focuses on using hierarchical Bayesian models that combine remote sensing imagery with multiple long-term ecological datasets, with an emphasis on high-performance computing, forecasting, and reproducible science. Recently, I have been exploring how phenological mismatch between organisms and their environments impacts population dynamics and community assembly. I became interested in this topic during my doctoral research with Bill Fagan at the University of Maryland, when I investigated how stress-mediated synchronization between an insect herbivore and its food drives primary succession on Mount St. Helens.