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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, reptiles, and songbirds. We employ traditional field-based methods, mesocosm experiments, statistical and spatial analyses, and simulation modeling to better understand, predict, and ultimately assist with management of wildlife.

Current research projects – PI / Co-PI

  • Wood Turtle ecology and response to management actions in Minnesota (Maddy Cochrane)
  • Spotted Turtle distribution and status in West Virginia (Joel Mota)
  • Habitat suitability of Wetlands Reserve Program sites for aquatic turtles (Alissa Gulette)
  • 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)
  • Habitat suitability modeling for the Cow Knob Salamander (Carl Jacobsen)
  • Habitat suitability modeling for the Cheat Mountain Salamander (Lacy Rucker)
  • Salamander cover object selection in Central Appalachia (Eric Margenau, Lenza Paul)
  • Wood Turtle population monitoring in the Upper Midwest
  • Climate change impacts on Kirtland’s Warbler population viability 
  • Temporal and spatial Jack Pine plantation habitat use patterns by Kirtland’s Warbler
  • Tricolored bat conservation in Texas
  • Book co-editor: Amphibians and reptiles of Wisconsin

Current research projects – Collaborator

  • Forest songbird community responses to shale gas development (Laura Farwell)
  • Cerulean warbler ecology and responses to silviculture treatments (Gretchen Nareff)
  • Herpetofaunal responses to young forest habitat creation in West Virginia (Eric Margenau)
  • Diamond Darter monitoring and response to an extreme flooding event (Austin Rizzo)

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
  • Tricolored Bat (Perimyotis subflavus)

Current focal ecoregions/habitats

  • Central Appalachian Wetlands (West Virginia)
  • Monongahela National Forest (West Virginia)
  • George Washington National Forest (Virginia, West Virginia)
  • Jack Pine forests (Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota) 
  • Northwoods region (Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota)
  • Texas