You have stumbled upon
Kevin McAbee's
poor excuse for a website


This is my attempt to allow others to read about my current work, my past experiences, and my future conquests without
having to answer all of the myspace questions.  (Although people Id like to meet is definite addition soon).  

 I am currently living in Athens, Georgia, pursuing a MS in Forest Resources from the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia under the advisement of Dr. Nate Nibbelink.  I am working on creating a spatially realistic Bayesian belief decision tool that will demonstrate how land use changes will affect metapopulation and individual subpopulation extinction probabilities of the federally theatened blackside dace.  An endemic of the Upper Cumberland River drainage of Kentucky and Tennessee, the blackside dace's range has been greatly reduced through a multitude of human induced stressors (mine, logging, and agriculture pollution; impoundments and channelization to name a few).  This project stems from my interest in applying GIS technologies to wildlife management issues, especially the recovery of rare and endangered species.

Bayesian belief networks are probabilistic models used to analyze cascading hierarchies of influence on outcome states.  These models are useful because they are effective communication tools and are very flexible to existing data.  As a communication tool, BBNs can easily demonstrate system influences with graphical representation.  For example, the following image demonstrates a simplified understanding of influences on blackside peristence.  Biologists believe that human land use activities, specifically forestry and mining, have altered blackside dace habitat, mot notable by increasing conductivity in streams, introducing heavy sediment loads, and increasing water temperature.  Elevated conductivity is believed to reduce the survival of young of year fish.  Increased sedimentation in streams reduces available spawning substrate and reduces the abundance of macroinvertabrate forage species.  Increased water temperature also alters the macroinvertabrate community.  The abundance of a local population is greatly shaped by the reproduction (spawning), recruitment (YOY survival) and foraging.  Therefore, this model demonstrates exactly how human land use can shape the abundance of a blackside dace population through ecological and biological effects.  


example bbn
Human Land Use 
Ecological Correlates
Biological Effects
Management Goal /
Biological Outcome


BBN models are also very flexible to data inputs.  Individual nodes (circles above) can represent continuous or catergorical variables, allowing for many monitoring systems to provide data.  More importantly, relationships between nodes (represented by arrows above) can be based on empirical data OR expert opinion.  This is a very important aspect of this modeling effort, because users are able to work with the entire system, even if certain relationships have not be scientifically studied.  Incorporating expert opinion is especially useful in the study and management of endangered species, becuase often these species are rare, narrowly distributed, and newly discovered.  One more additional benefit of BBNs is the ability to update the model as more information is acquired.  Since many parts of this model are based on expert opinion, they need to be changed as more emprirical data is collected.  This can be accomplished within this modeling framework.

I am currently in the process of developing a comprehensive BBN for the blackside dace (Phoxinus cumberlandensis).  Knowldege about the ecology of this species is based on a select few empirical studies and years of field biology experience. My project will combine these two types of information into one model of the system.  The model will also be developed to be an adaptive management tool for scientists, government agencies, and recovery planners.  Support for this effort comes from many different sources.  The Cumberland HCP has been intergral in putting together a team of experts, hosting meetings, and providing an outlet for my model.  Many biologists, from many agencies have already helped in the model construction.  Finally, financial support for my work is provided by the National Park Service and the UGA Graduate School.  

I have presented an intital model and results at the American Fisheries Society and the Southeastern Fisheries Council annual meetings this fall.  This poster can be viewed here.  Soon I will be presenting talks at the annual meeting of the Georgia chapter of the American Fisheries Society, the Southern Forestry and Natural Resource Management GIS conference, and the  annual meeting of the International Society of Conservation Biology.  These talks will be posted soon.




This site is hosted by UGA and will be used as my professional web presence, so dont expect to see too much craziness.  



A bit of personal history

I gew up in Asheville, North Carolina before it became a premier housing market.  I then moved east and received Bachelor's degrees in Ecology and Botany from NC State University.  While at NCSU I worked on native plant preservation in the Wenatchee National Forest in central Washington, endangered species management of the Saint Francis Satyr (butterfly) in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and integrated pest management for the entomology department at NCSU.  After graduation I moved west as a newlywed to Albuquerque, New Mexico and worked at Hall Environmental Analysis Laboratory, testing water, soil, and air samples for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) using gas chromotography/mass spectroscopy (GC/MS).  While in New Mexico my wife graduated from the University of New Mexico Medical School as a certified Nuclear Medicine Technologist.  She now works at Athens Regional Medical Center.



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