Yale School of the Environment
M.S., 2018 Vanderbilt University; Earth and Environmental Science
B.S., 2015 Boston College; Environmental Geoscience and Philosophy
Click here for CV.
I am interested in the ecosystem services provided by large mammals and how the impacts of local extinction or changes in migratory behavior may alter ecosystem dynamics. More specifically, I explore the impact of ungulates on soil dynamics, nutrient cycles, nutrient transfer, and carbon storage. Working in both the Schmitz lab and the Bradford lab at Yale my dissertation aims to untangle the effects of caribou on Arctic and boreal soils and nutrient cycles. As northern ecosystems change due to climate change, and caribou populations dwindle, I hope to help illuminate the role of caribou within their ecosystem, exploring how they alter nutrient and soil properties and move nutrients around their large home range.
Additionally I am interested in helping develop rigorous ethical frameworks which can be used by practicing conservationists to conduct conservation ethically. Conservation is inherently ethical, requiring conservationists to navigate morally difficult situations. As humans continue to alter ecosystems, creating conservation programs that work for people and animals is vital.
Boston College, USA and the University of Edinburgh, UK (2014-2015) – Throughout the summer of 2014, I worked in Dr. Eva Panagiotakopulu’s lab (Edinbrugh, UK) where we sought to reconstruct the paleoclimate and paleoenvironment of Cheshire, UK using beetle remains. Upon returning to Boston College in the fall of 2014, I used this research to conduct an Environmental Science Thesis. This work ultimately provided evidence of the Chelford Interstadial, a brief warm period in Great Britain during the Late Pleistocene. In addition, I conducted a Philosophy Thesis with Dr. Holly Vande Wall investigating the ethics of animal use by humans using the framework of Benthian Utilitarianism.
University of Bern, CH (2015-2016) – Through funding awarded by the U.S. Fulbright Program I spend a year working with paleoecologist Dr. Oliver Heiri. While there, I conducted a high-resolution independent temperature reconstruction for the Late Glacial and Holocene using chironomid (non-biting midge) remains as a proxy.
Vanderbilt University, USA (2016-2018) – For my master’s thesis, I worked with Professor Malu Jorge to investigate the role of the white-lipped peccary within the Cerrado of Brazil. Local extinction events have created forest patches of presence and absence, which we used as natural exclosure and enclosure plots. Within these plots we measured soil and nutrient dynamics to understand the ecosystem services provided by these frugivores and to evaluate the possible effects of local and regional extinction.
Ferraro, K.M., Ferraro, A.L., Sommer, N.R. (2021). Challenges facing cross-disciplinary collaboration in conservation ethics. Conservation Science and Practice. https://doi.org/10.1111/csp2.523
Ellis-Soto, D.,* Ferraro, K.M.,* Rizzuto, M., Briggs, E., Monk, J.M., Schmitz O.J. (2021). A methodological roadmap to quantify animal-mediated nutrient subsidies. Journal of Animal Ecology.
*Indicates shared first-authorship
Office: Greeley Laboratory, Room 119
School of the Environment
370 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511 USA