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Mark Ford

Associate Professor
106B Cheatham Hall

Unit Leader, Cooperative Research Unit

B.S., University of Tennessee (1987)
M.S., Mississippi State University (1989)
Ph.D., University of Georgia (1994)


Ford studies land management (forestry, fire, and mining) and landscape interactions with wildlife habitat and species occurrence in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic.  Currently, his work focuses on ecology and management of bats, Appalachian northern flying squirrels and spotted skunks. Ford is also interested in oak regeneration issues and high elevation red spruce restoration in the Appalachians.

  • Wildlife Habitat Management in the Appalachians and Piedmont (F&W 6004)

Response of Bats to Restoration Fires in the Central Appalachians

Funded by the Joint Fire Sciences Program, the U.S. Forest Service Region 8 and the National Park Service, this project is seeking to examine how restoration fire alters foraging and day-roosting patterns of bats with particular emphasis on the threatened northern long-eared bat on Warm Springs Mountain and Shenandoah National Park.  Cooperators are the Nature Conservancy, the George Washington National Forest and Shenandoah National Park.

Bat Ecology and Distribution on Military Lands 

Funded by various installations, this project is seeking to better understand how bats respond to the highly managed stand- and landscape conditions on lands devoted to military mission needs and environmental stewardships.  Cooperators are Fort Drum, Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Pickett and Quantico Marine Corps Base.

Modeling Distribution of Bats in the Mid-Atlantic

Funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia Field Office and the National Park Service, this project is seeking to develop acoustically-derived predictive landscape distribution models for all of the bat species that occur in Virginia and portions of Maryland and West Virginia following the occurrence of white-nose syndrome.  Special emphasis on researching the day-roosting habits of the threatened northern long-eared bat, endangered Indiana bat and sensitive small-footed bat also is occurring. Other cooperators include Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. 

Northern Long-eared Bat Status in the Northeast

Funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 5, this project is seeking to determine through mist-netting and acoustics if residual maternity activity still occurs for the threatened northern long-eared bat in New Jersey, Massachusetts and New Hampshire and if the social day-roost network among extant bats is still present.  Other cooperators include Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

Habitat Use and Acoustical Monitoring of Appalachian Northern Flying Squirrels 

Funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, North Carolina Field Office, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and the West Virginia Division of Highways, this project is seeking to use a combination of live-trapping, radio-telemetry and acoustic surveys to better define northern flying squirrel habitat in high elevation red spruce forests in the central and southern Appalachians that can guide forest restoration efforts.  Other cooperators include the Jefferson National Forest, the Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, West Virginia Division of Forestry and Snowshoe Resort.

Ecology and Distribution of the Spotted Skunk in Virginia

Funded by Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, this project is seeking to map the distribution of the spotted skunk, a state-sensitive species using baited camera traps.   Habitat use from radio-telemetry is also being conducted.  Other cooperators include the Jefferson National Forest and Fort Pickett.

Environmental and Physical Influences on White-tailed Deer Herbivory

Funded by Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, this project is seeking to understand how deer herbivory varies in extent and impact to native flora in western Virginia relative to forest community type, landscape configuration, soil quality, landform, elevation and deer herd density.  

Assessing Climate Change on Military Land Ecosystems

Funded by the Army Environmental Quality on Installations program, this project is seeking to model the change in Holdrich ecological associations under varying climate change scenarios for all Department of Defense lands in the continental United States.  Site-specific landscape changes are being assessed at Fort Drum in northern New York to understand data needs for military planners interested in understanding climate change impacts to environments at tcale. he more local landscapes

Arrested Succession on Appalachian Mine Lands 

Funded by the Appalachian Research Initiative for Environmental Science, this project is seeking to understand the longevity of early successional grassland and shrub-scrub habitats post-mining in the central Appalachian coalfields to better assess future habitat condition and needs for species such as elk or grassland birds.  Cooperators include the Virginia Tech Conservation Management Institute.

  • St. Germain, M.J., A.B. Kniowski, A. Silvis and W.M. Ford. 2017. Who Knew? First Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis) Maternity Colony in the Coastal Plain of Virginia. Northeastern Naturalist 24:N5-N10.
  • Diggins, C.A., L.M. Gilley, C. Kelly and W.M. Ford. 2016. Comparison of survey techniques on detection of northern flying squirrels. Wildlife Society Bulletin 40:654-662.
  • Patriquin, K.J.,M.L. Leonard, H.G. Broders, W.M. Ford, E.R. Britzke, and A. Silvis 2016. Weather as a proximate explanation for fission-fusion dynamics in female northern long-eared bats. Animal Behaviour 122:47-57.
  • Ford. W.M., A. Silvis, J.L. Rodrigue, A. Kniowski and J.B. Johnson. 2016. Deriving habitat models for northern bats (Myotis septentrionalis) from historical detection data: A case study using long-term research on the Fernow Experimental Forest, West Virginia, USA. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management 7(1): 86-98.
  • Oliphant, A.J., R.H. Wynne, C.E. Zipper, W.M. Ford, P.F. Donovan and J. Li. 2016. Autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) presence and proliferation on former surface coal mines in eastern USA. Biological Invasions DOI 10.1007/s10530-016-1271-6. 17 p.
  • Reynolds, R., K.E. Powers, W. Orndorff, W.M. Ford and C. Hobson. 2016, Changes in Myotis septentrionalis (Northern Long-eared Bat) capture rates and demographics in western Virginia; pre and post White-nose Syndrome. Northeastern Naturalist 23:195-204.
  • Ford, W.M., A. Silvis, J.B. Johnson, J.W. Edwards and M. Karp. 2016. Northern long-eared bat day-roosting and prescribed fire in the central Appalachians. Fire Ecology 12:13-27.
  • Harper, C.A., W.M. Ford, M.A. Lashley, C.E. Moorman, and M. Stanbaugh. 2016. Fire effects on wildlife in Central Hardwoods and Appalachian regions. Fire Ecology. 12:127-159.
  • Sweeten, S.E. and W.M. Ford. 2016. Validation of a stream and riparian habitat assessment protocol using stream salamanders in the southwest Virginia coalfields. Journal of American Society of Mining and Reclamation 5:45-66.
  • Jachowski, D.S., C.T. Rota, C.A. Dobony, W.M. Ford, and J.W. Edward. 2016. Seeing the forest through the trees:considering roost-site selection at multiple spatial scales. PLoS ONE 11(3): e0150011. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0150011
  • Rentch, J.S., W.M. Ford, T.S. Schuler, J. Palmer and C.A. Diggins. 2016. Release of suppressed red spruce using canopy gap creation – ecological restoration in the Central Appalachians. Natural Areas Journal 36:29-37.
  • Mahoney, K.R., K..R. Russell, W.M. Ford, J.L. Rodrigue, J. D. Riddle and T.M. Schuler. 2016. Woodland salamander responses to a shelterwood harvest-prescribed burn silvicultural treatment within Appalachian mixed-oak forests. Forest Ecology and Management 359:277-285.
  • Silvis, A., W.M. Ford and E.R. Britzke. 2015. Day-roost tree selection by northern long-eared bats– What do random tree comparisons and one year of data really tell us? Global Ecology and Conservation 3:756-763
  • Ford, W.M., A. M. Evans, R. H. Odom, J. L. Rodrigue, C. A. Kelly, N. Abaid, C. A. Diggins and D. Newcomb. 2015. Predictive habitat models derived from nest-box occupancy for the endangered Carolina northern flying squirrel in the southern Appalachians. Endangered Species Research 27:131-140.