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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 conducts applied research to assist with 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 in Wisconsin (Jena Staggs)
  • Wood Turtle population responses to oil and gas development in Pennsylvania (Sara Crayton
  • Spotted Turtle status and distribution in West Virginia (Joel Mota)
  • Impacts of the pesticide imidacloprid on salamanders (Lenza Paul, Sara Crayton)
  • Impacts of the pesticide imidacloprid on ants (Lenza Paul)
  • Responses of woodland salamanders to climate change in Central Appalachia (Lacy Rucker)
  • Distribution and climate change modeling for the Cheat Mountain Salamander (Lacy Rucker)
  • Woodland salamander responses to linear habitat fragmentation (Lacy Rucker)

Current student-led research projects – Collaborator

  • Impacts of the pesticide imidacloprid on microarthropods and bacteria (Braley Burke)
  • Predictive models to guide stocking in tournament fisheries (Alex Benecke)

Current PI-led research projects

  • Wood turtle ecology and population monitoring
  • Responses of stream salamanders to prescribed fire in Central Appalachia
  • Cheat Mountain Salamander microhabitat associations
  • Kirtland's Warbler population responses to environmental and management changes
  • 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 focal geographic areas

  • Allegheny National Forest (Pennsylvania)
  • Eastern Panhandle (West Virginia)
  • Monongahela National Forest (West Virginia)
  • New River Gorge National River (West Virginia)
  • Upper Midwest (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan)