As a doctoral student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Program, Mendenhall works closely with professors Gretchen Daily and Paul Ehrlich in the Center for Conservation Biology.
His primary interest is understanding the tradeoffs between the conservation of biodiversity and food production in tropical countries.
With countryside biogeography as a framework, his research focuses on measuring animal populations and ecological communities on farmland in Costa Rica. The field of countryside biogeography closely examines the diversity and conservation of species in human-dominated landscapes.
Using bird and bat ecological communities as a study system, Mendenhall’s work centers on developing models to predict animal distributions on small family farms. To do so, he studies habitats within the farmland and how different animal populations interact with one another.
His work is largely informed by the need to crystallize the connection between diversity of life on the planet and the vital services that biodiversity provides to humanity.