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Our scientific expertise is wide-ranging, including behavioral ecology, population dynamics, physiology, ecotoxicology, disease ecology, human-wildlife conflicts, human dimensions of natural resource conservation, marine ecology and habitat-population interactions.

 Our wildlife faculty work with a wide variety of animals, from salamanders and turtles to bats, squirrels, shore birds, raptors, game birds, deer and large predators such as coyotes, bears and tigers. The interests of our fisheries faculty range from endangered Roanoke log perch and nongame fish communities to conservation aquaculture for imperiled freshwater mussels and management of large game fish such as muskellunge, blue catfish, and arapaima. Our work occurs in Virginia, throughout the United States and in many countries around the world, including Mexico, Belize, Brazil, Indonesia, Botswana, Ghana, and Madagascar.

  • Paul Angermeier
    My research is broadly interested in the ecology and conservation of freshwater ecosystems, with an emphasis on five areas: a) population dynamics of imperiled fishes, b) habitat associations of stream fishes, c) ecosystem services provided by watersheds, d) use of biotic communities to assess water quality, and e) impacts of invasive species. His work applies multiple analytical approaches (e.g., field surveys, experiments, simulations) to a range of spatial scales (e.g., regional landscapes, watersheds, stream reaches, habitat patches). Overarching aims are to advance scientific understanding of how ecosystems (including ecological and socioeconomic components) operate and to make that knowledge available to resource managers and other stakeholders so they are better able to make decisions to promote sustainability.

  • Leandro Castello
    Castello's research program focuses on the ecology and conservation of fish and fisheries in relation to global change processes, with particular attention to tropical regions. Key topics of investigation are the impacts on fisheries caused by overfishing, pollution, hydrological alteration, and land cover change. Unlike programs based on specific topics, his program focuses on a broad range of fishery problems, seeking to identify research questions for which the answers have the potential to improve the state of affairs for fish resources and fishing communities. This goal is achieved by pursuing questions that can influence policy and adopting an interdisciplinary approach. This research program on fish and fisheries ecology and management often includes humans, adopts an ecosystem-based perspective, and makes use of various approaches from fields other than fish biology and fisheries science, including ethnobiology, resource governance, and policy analysis, among others.

  • Andrew Dolloff
    Stream ecology; Watershed and riparian management; Forestry and fishery interactions

  • Francesco Ferretti
    I am interested in characterizing the history of human impact in the ocean, understand how this impact has altered marine ecosystems, and develop solutions for a sustainable use of marine resources. My research spans from macro-ecology to applied management and conservation (I have a particular interest in sharks and their relatives). It focuses on dynamics from single species to whole ecosystems, and revolves around three main scientific approaches: 1) inferring ecological processes from limited and disparate data; 2) filling the data gap characterizing many ecological systems by exploiting unconventional sources of information; and 3) using data science methods, big data, and new technology to address pressing ecological issues and develop ocean solutions.

  • Emmanuel Frimpong
    My research focuses on the ecology and conservation of freshwater fishes, with emphasis on how anthropogenic alterations to habitats and landscapes differentially affect species as a result of differences in their life history traits and the nature of biotic, especially mutualistic interactions. Examples of specific landscape and habitat changes that have been the subject of recent and current research in my lab include agriculture and aquaculture, urban development, introduction of nonnative species, and climate change. A major theme in my research is explaining the determinants of fish distributions, predicting how the distribution of species will respond to anthropogenic changes to their environment, and developing management and conservation solutions. My research extends to sustainable production aquaculture (especially in sub-Saharan Africa) as an alternative to overexploitation of natural fisheries to feed growing and increasingly urban populations in developing countries

  • Eric Hallerman 
    Genetics of fish and wildlife species; genetic improvement of aquaculture stocks; aquaculture biotechnology and related public policy; genetics education

  • Yan Jiao
    My research interests are to explain the nature of aquatic species and manage them as appropriately as we can in a probabilistic way. Specifically, I am working on: population dynamics and stock assessment; risk analysis; fisheries management (decision analysis, adaptive management); fishery ecology; statistical computing. The types of models we work on include stock recruitment, statistical catch-at-age, matrix models, generalized linear/additive models, spatial-temporal modeling, hierarchical modeling, measurement error (error-in-variable) models, time series models, multi-species models, Bayesian modeling, quantitative risk assessment. Specific species of interest include of commercial and recreational fish species, species under conservation or invasive.
  • Recent research focus: spatial-temporal dynamics and its modeling in fisheries; ecosystem modeling (climate driven population dynamics modeling; quantification of species interaction)

  • Jess Jones
    My research focuses on conservation biology of freshwater mussels, with an emphasis on: (1) conservation aquaculture, (2) restoration ecology and monitoring of populations, (3) aquatic ecotoxicology, and (4) conservation genetics. I am particularly interested in improving field and laboratory techniques to restore mussel populations to enhance the capability of the Department of Interior’s Natural Resource and Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) program, including applying small- and large-scale mesocosms to improve captive growing and experimental conditions for endangered mussels and fishes.

  • Holly Kindsvater My research applies the science of evolutionary ecology to conservation and management of fisheries. I study the evolution of fish species with complex life histories. I use demographic models to understand how biological differences interact with fishing, including fishing intensity and gear type. This information is critical for managing species sustainably and identifying threatened species.

  • Donald Orth
    I investigate the habitats used by fishes in streams and rivers and develop protocols or habitat suitability criteria for maintaining sustainable populations in the face of various human modifications, such as water withdrawals and habitat modifications. I also study ecological drivers that influence fish population dynamics and develop and evaluate a variety of instream flow assessment methods in order to derive environmental flows for sustainability. Finally, I investigate trophic connections between the various food web components to assist in the development of ecosystem based management.

  • Joel Snodgrass, Department Head
    I am an aquatic ecologist interested in the effects of human induced landscape change on the physical and biotic environment of aquatic systems, and the biology and evolution of aquatic organisms. I am particularly interested in fish and amphibians that inhabit streams and freshwater wetlands.



  • Kathleen Alexander
    My research program is directed at exploring and understanding the factors that influence the emergence and persistence of emerging and re-emerging diseases at the human- wildlife-environmental interface. My program embraces a systems biology approach to ecosystem health integrated with public health, beginning within host - pathogen dynamics and extending to the livelihoods of communities living with wildlife, including the impact on ecosystem function and local communities themselves.  My approach integrates critical crosscutting elements that can influence infectious disease dynamics such as culture and behavior, gender dimensions, and climate change.

  • Daniel Catlin 
    I am a quantitative ecologist who works on the conservation of threatened and endangered organisms, specifically focusing on shorebird ecology. My work uses demographic and behavioral data to inform the management of these species throughout the life cycle. I am especially interested in the effects of management on the condition and survival of these species, using management to improve demographic outcomes in novel ways.

  • Michael Cherry
    My research focuses on understanding factors influencing wildlife populations and how managers can manipulate those processes to meet their objectives. I conduct applied research investigating topics including wildlife-habitat interactions, predator-prey ecology, and ungulate ecology and management. I am interested in how behavioral and physiological traits of individual animals link to demographic parameters and community interactions.

  • Ashley Dayer
    Dr. Dayer is a conservation social scientist. Her research program focuses on understanding people's and organization's conservation behavior, especially related to bird conservation, private lands habitat conservation, human-wildlife conflict, endangered species management, and citizen science. As part of this research, she explores the role that policy tools and educational interventions can play in influencing behavior. Much of her current research is part of interdisciplinary (social and natural sciences) teams and focused on bridging the implementation gap between science and conservation.

  • Luis Escobar 
    My research focuses on the occurrence of diseases in space and time from a One-Health perspective, including human, animal, and ecosystem health. I use biogeographic approaches for the understanding of the ecology of biodiversity (including parasites and invasive species) under diverse land use and climate change conditions. I'm particularly interested in disease ecology, pathology, parasitology, spatial epidemiology, wildlife epidemiology, biological conservation, invasion biology, ecological niche modeling, neglected diseases, human-dimension in epidemiology, remote sensing, and conservation medicine. In my work, I collaborate with colleagues from diverse disciplines following the One-Health and conservation medicine approaches. I'm always interested in new collaborations, particularly from fields of biogeography, macroecology, disease ecology, and ecological niche modeling.

  • Mark Ford 
    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.

  • James Fraser
    With my graduate students, post-docs and other colleagues, I study the population, behavioral, and habitat ecology of imperiled species. My goal is to understand what limits these species, to enhance our basic understanding of biology, and so that conservation interventions may be designed. Recent studies have focused on shorebirds especially piping plovers and red knots, and raptors recently the crested caracara in Florida, but I find all organisms interesting and worthy of study and conservation. Whenever possible, our teams collaborate closely with land managers, which informs our research, facilitates our education, and promotes rapid incorporation of our findings into management practice.

  • Carola A. Haas
    Carola Haas’ research focuses on wildlife populations in managed ecosystems, with a focus on breeding and movement behavior of amphibians, birds, and reptiles. She coordinates several multi-decade long studies on topics including forest management practices on understory processes and diversity in Appalachian hardwood forests (plethodontid salamanders), loggerhead shrike nesting ecology in the Great Plains, and the role of fire, grazing, and changing hydrology in wetland restoration (flatwoods salamanders and bog turtles). She is particularly interested in how agricultural and forestry practices can benefit native wildlife populations.
  • Kevin Hamed 
    My research focuses on the anthropogenic impacts on Southern Appalachian vertebrates, especially herpetofauna. I am particularly interested in how to mitigate adverse impacts on plethodontid salamanders. My research incorporates a wide range of progressive technologies to provide a solid scientific basis for management decisions.
  • Bill Hopkins
    My research focuses on physiological ecology and wildlife ecotoxicology, addressing pressing questions in both basic and applied science. From a basic science perspective, my interests are in the energy costs of various physiological and behavioral processes. From an applied perspective, my goal is to understand how anthropogenic disturbances alter the ability of fish and wildlife to interact appropriately with their environment.

  • Sarah Karpanty
    Applied behavioral and population ecology; top-down and bottom-up drivers of population and community dynamics; climate change impacts on wildlife populations; shorebird and waterbird conservation; primate ecology; carnivore ecology; predator-prey interactions; tropical forest restoration; endangered species management

  • Marcella Kelly
    My research focuses primarily on carnivore population ecology, management, and conservation. I use emerging and evolving techniques such as camera trapping combined with advances in population modeling to estimate population sizes and densities for elusive, hard-to-track, carnivores; non-invasive genetic sampling and molecular scatology to determine carnivore abundance, growth rates, genetic diversity, and gene flow across fragmented landscapes;  Global Positioning System (GPS) collaring combined with landscape modeling to investigate carnivore habitat selection and fine scale movement across multi-use landscapes; and finally conservation physiology of captive black bears to better understand hibernation/torpor ecology and its potential link to human-wildlife conflict. I work collaboratively with other population modelers, with geneticists, with wildlife conservation physiologists, with veterinarians, with agency biologists, and even with human physiologists to synergize data from multiple sources to advance our knowledge and understanding of large carnivores.
  • Donald Linzey
    My areas of research have encompassed the disciplines of herpetology and mammalogy in Bermuda, Virginia, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  I organized and directed the Bermuda Amphibian Project for 8 years investigating possible causes of amphibian declines on the island.  I have conducted mammal research in every eastern state from New York to Florida.  For the first time in over 50 years, I compiled all known data for Virginia mammals.  In addition, I have compiled all known mammal data for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

  • James Parkhurst 
    My research, teaching, and extension activities all are geared toward the study of the relationships and interactions between wildlife and human populations. Specifically, I use knowledge and experience gained from such study to develop practical applications to maintain or enhance wildlife populations while, at the same time, finding ways that wildlife and humans can coexist in relative harmony. Obviously, these goals present interesting challenges: how does one maintain, increase or diversify wildlife populations when confronted with an evergrowing human population and the concurrent array of complaints about human-wildlife conflicts? Certainly, these are challenges that must be met and issues our students must be prepared to deal with. Additionally, a large component of my recent work has been focused on helping natural resource management agencies identify, understand, and engage the stakeholders who form their new constituency; incorporating public involvement into resource use and management planning decision making processes poses new and potentially controversial challenges for these agencies.

  • Dean Stauffer 
    My research interests center on wildlife-habitat relationships. I am particularly interested in analyzing the nature of the link between wild animals and their habits. In addition to determining how an animal uses its habitat, I feel it is important to use this information to develop tools that allow the assessment and evaluation of the potential impacts habitat change, from whatever source, may have on the associated animal populations.