Viorel Popescu – Conservation Biology Lab

Conservation Biology Lab at OHIO

quantitative wildlife ecology and conservation science

Welcome to the Conservation Biology Lab in the Department of Biological Sciences at Ohio University. We work on applied wildlife and conservation research across many systems: from Ohio’s deciduous forests, to mountains of the Pacific Northwest and California, the Romanian Carpathians, and subtropical China. Our research interests are diverse, spanning large carnivores, reptiles and amphibians, and we use experimental, observational and computational approaches to tackle current conservation issues. We work on a variety of applied ecology and conservation issues, such as sustainability of carnivore hunting, impacts of roads on wildlife populations, carnivore population ecology, systematic conservation planning, and impacts of stressors on amphibian populations.

REFERENCES for the 2021 “Fundamentals of Conservation Biology” 4th edition (Mac Hunter, James Gibbs and Viorel Popescu) textbook available for download as a .RIS file

Fall 2021: It’s all about carnivores in N America! First off, a great collaboration between PhD students Marissa Dyck and Eileen Wyza led to the first assessment of competitive interactions between bobcat and coyotes in North America (published in Mammal Review). Second, paper on the #RealBobcatsofOhio habitat suitability and connectivity is out in PeerJ; this is a collaboration with Ohio Division of Wildlife and the Peterman Lab at Ohio State University. We added another piece of the puzzle that is bobcat recovery in Ohio!

Summer 2021: New letter in Science hot off the press: Popescu, V. D., M. I. Pop, and L. Rozylowicz. 2021. Trophy hunting undermines public trust. Science 372:1049 LP – 1049. This perspective piece provides a critique of the current wildlife management in Romania, which is tolerant of trophy hunting for brown bears despite the species protected by EU legislation and payment for trophies being banned since 2016. Read more about the events that threw Romanian wildlife management in turmoil here.

Winter-Spring 2021: Lots of exciting news!!! We started 2 camera trap projects in Ohio and Romania aimed at evaluating interspecific relations between terrestrial carnivores (keep an eye on Twitter updates!). Also, after 4 years of sustained work, “Fundamentals of Conservation Biology” 4th edition textbook (with mentors Mac Hunter [University of Maine] and James Gibbs [SUNY-Environmental Science and Forestry]) is finally out!

  • August 2020: We are welcoming Ryan Brown as a new MSc student in the lab! Ryan has been engaged with research in our lab since 2018, first as a undergraduate research assistant, then as a Lab Manager for the last year. Ryan obtained a degree from Hocking College prior to joining Ohio University, has a broad set of field skills, and is an encyclopedia of natural history knowledge. Ryan will work with Matt Kaunert exploring the lives and reproductive ecology of Eastern Hellbenders and contribute to proposing sound conservation strategies for hellbenders in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
  • November 2019 – Heidi Bencin’s MSc research on road mortality in Ohio’s bobcat population is out in Scientific Reports! Heidi’s study integrated roadkill data across two decades, a GPS telemetry dataset to evaluate road-crossing behaviors, and theoretical estimations of road mortality risk at the population level to ultimate valuate predictors and hotspots of roadkill. Interstate highways were the top threat with high chance of mortality during crossings, and overall, we estimated that 6 – 18% of Ohio’s bobcat population may be affected by direct mortality from vehicle strikes. This finding is critical for projecting future population trajectory, which is the next step in the Ohio DNR funded project in the lab.


Prospective graduate students: If you are interested in joining our lab at Ohio University, please send me: (A) a short statement about yourself and your research interests (background, goals/ambitions, why Ohio University), (B) your resume or CV, and (C) your GPA and GRE scores.

The main research directions in the lab are: (1) amphibian ecology and conservation, (2) carnivore ecology and conservation, and (3) spatial conservation planning, but incoming students may to develop their own projects focused on other conservation topics of interests.

Dr. Viorel D. Popescu
Assistant Professor of Conservation Biology
Dept. of Biological Sciences
Ohio University
423 Irvine Hall
Athens, OH 45701
Skype: dvpopescu 

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