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The Wildlife Conservation Lab, part of West Virginia University - School of Natural Resources and the US Forest Service - Northern Research Station, conducts applied research to better understand — and predict — responses of wildlife to environmental changes. We provide science-based knowledge that can be used to assist with conservation efforts for vulnerable species and communities.

Meet Our Lab Members  


Our lab focuses on research that contributes to conservation of wildlife populations and communities under changing environmental and management conditions. We primarily study species of conservation concern, particularly amphibians and reptiles. We employ traditional field-based methods, mesocosm and laboratory experiments, statistical and spatial analyses, and simulation modeling to better understand, predict, and ultimately assist with management of wildlife.

Current student-led research projects  –  PI / Co-PI

  • Wood Turtle ecology and conservation (Maria Berkeland)
  • Spotted Turtle status and distribution in West Virginia (Joel Mota)
  • Impacts of long-term use of the pesticide imidacloprid on terrestrial salamanders (Lenza Paul)
  • Impacts of long-term use of the pesticide imidacloprid on aquatic salamanders (Sara Crayton)
  • Responses of woodland salamanders to climate change in Central Appalachia (Lacy Rucker)
  • Responses of woodland salamanders to prescribed fire in Central Appalachia (Carl Jacobsen)
  • Responses of stream salamanders to prescribed fire in Central Appalachia (Lacy Rucker)
  • Distribution and climate change modeling for the Cow Knob Salamander (Carl Jacobsen)
  • Distribution and climate change modeling for the Cheat Mountain Salamander (Lacy Rucker)
  • Salamander cover object selection in Central Appalachia (Eric Margenau , Lenza Paul)

Current student-led research projects – Collaborator

  • Freshwater turtle ecology and heavy metal bioaccumulation in West Virginia (Darien Lozon)
  • Cerulean warbler ecology and responses to silviculture treatments (Gretchen Nareff)
  • Herpetofaunal responses to young forest habitat creation in West Virginia (Eric Margenau)
  • Impacts of long-term use of the pesticide imidacloprid on arthropods (Braley Burke)

Current PI-led research projects

  • Wood turtle ecology and population monitoring in the Upper Midwest
  • Climate change impacts on Kirtland's Warbler population viability
  • Book co-editor: Amphibians and reptiles of Wisconsin

Current focal species of concern

  • Cheat Mountain Salamander (Plethodon nettingi)
  • Cow Knob Salamander (Plethodon punctatus)
  • Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta)
  • Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata)
  • Kirtland's Warbler (Setophaga kirtlandii)

Current research areas

  • Monongahela National Forest (West Virginia)
  • New River Gorge National River (West Virginia)
  • George Washington National Forest (Virginia, West Virginia)
  • Eastern Panhandle (West Virginia)
  • Northwoods region (Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota)