Paul Elsen

Research Associate


126A Russell Laboratories
1630 Linden Drive
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI 53706


2015 Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University
2012 M.A. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University
2006 B.A. in Cognitive Science, UC Berkeley

Research interests

My research broadly focuses on applied ecology, conservation biology, and biogeography, with a particular interest in understanding the impacts of global change on biodiversity. I have ongoing projects aiming to (1) determine the factors limiting species ranges along environmental gradients; (2) understand the impacts of agriculture and grazing on species populations and geographic ranges; and (3) develop novel strategies for conserving species under climate change. To tackle these issues, I combine field research with analytical models, as well as utilize existing datasets on species distributions, land-use patterns, climate projections, and high-resolution digital elevation models. At the landscape scale, my research is focused on understanding the ecology, conservation, and biogeography of Himalayan birds. At the global scale, my research is primarily focused on the conservation of montane species more broadly, without reference to particular taxonomic groups. Learn more about my research at

In the SILVIS lab, I'll be working to map a suite of environmental variables across the conterminous US that can be used to predict patterns of bird species richness. The environmental layers I will help produce will have numerous additional applications, enabling me to investigate several questions related to the mechanisms underlying species distributions and how biodiversity will respond to multiple facets of global change.

Personal interests

I enjoy cooking, hiking, traveling, and birdwatching. I'm excited to explore Wisconsin's lakes and rivers and try a few winter sports while in Madison.

Where I'm From