Lara Brenner

Island Ecologist
[email protected]

Lara is an ecologist on TNC’s California Islands Science Team, providing leadership and support for conservation-oriented research within the scope of the Santa Cruz Island Preserve, as well as the Channel Islands, the California Islands, and islands of the Pacific. Lara’s main areas of research focus include island biosecurity, climate resiliency, threatened and endangered species recovery, and invasive species control. Lara’s goal is to pilot, streamline, and evaluate cutting-edge conservation technologies on TNC’s Santa Cruz Island Preserve for export to islands worldwide. 

Lara has a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Carleton College in Minnesota, and an M.S. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana, where she was based in Elizabeth Metcalf’s Human Dimensions of Wildlife Lab and completed a thesis on Human-Cougar Conflict. She has worked as a wildlife biologist and land manager on the California Channel Islands since 2017.

What Lara is working on now:

I am currently working to create a long-term research and conservation plan for threatened island mesocarnivores on Santa Cruz. In the coming months, I will pivot to planning a seabird inventory for Santa Cruz to fill in knowledge gaps around seabird breeding habitat and potential reintroduction sites in the Channel Islands.

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2023 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Ear mite infection restructures otic microbial networks in conservation–reliant Santa Catalina Island foxes (Urocyon littoralis catalinae)

Jasmine Lu, Emily E. Hamblen, Lara J. Brenner, Julie L. King, Bridgett M. VonHoldt, Alexandra L. DeCandia

Over 50% of federally threatened Santa Catalina Island foxes (Urocyon littoralis catalinae) develop life-threatening ceruminous gland tumors in their ear canals. Previous work suggests that tumors may result from a combination of ectoparasites, disruption of the host-associated microbiome, and host immunopathology. We found that in…

2022 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Interspecific Asymmetries in Behavioral Plasticity Drive Seasonal Patterns of Temporal Niche Partitioning in an Island Carnivore Community

Victor Y. Zhang, Calypso N. Gagorik, Lara J. Brenner, Christina L. Boser, Tad C. Theimer, C. Loren Buck

Despite occupying similar niches in a relatively resource-poor environment, island foxes and island spotted skunks have coexisted for years through fine-scale spatial, temporal, and dietary niche partitioning. Using collar-mounted accelerometers, we investigated the activity patterns of these two insular mammalian carnivores. Our results suggest that…