Kirsten Dutcher

Post Doctoral Associate


Kirsten began her career with reptiles and amphibians as a field biologist in 2002 and has worked throughout the western United States, Kenya, Honduras, and Costa Rica. During this time, she began to increasingly gravitate towards desert work. Deserts are full of subtle beauty, and harbor a rich diversity of life, with species remarkably adapted to harsh environmental conditions. She has also been witness to dramatic alterations to desert landscapes, largely due to development, that have increased habitat loss and threats to native species. This led her to recognize the need to protect desert species as well as their habitat. The Mojave desert tortoise, an emblematic desert reptile, is the focal species for Kirsten’s PhD research in conservation genetics, which is the unique junction of landscape (with regard to habitat loss and fragmentation) and population genetics. She studies the impacts of recent anthropogenic disturbance on genetic connectivity and models the impacts of predicted future disturbance.


  • Ph.D. candidate, 2015-present, Geography, University of Nevada-Reno
  • M.S., 2009, Biology, California State University-Long Beach
  • B.S., 1998, Zoology, Oregon State University