Viorel Popescu – Conservation Ecology 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 issues, for example sustainability of carnivore trophy hunting, impacts of roads on wildlife populations, carnivore population ecology, systematic conservation planning, and impacts of climate change on amphibian populations.

LATEST NEWS!!!  (also check out the NEWS page for updates)
  • September 2019 – Marcel Weigand’s MSc research in press at European Journal of Wildlife Management (Proximity to highways has limited influence on space use and physiology of terrestrial testudines)! Great collaboration with Dr. Chris Tonra and the Avian Ecology Lab at The Ohio State University. Highway Right-of-Way provided thermoregulating turtle habitat, there were no differences in habitat selection and home ranges between roadside turtles and turtles in a nearby roadless area. However, roadside turtles strongly avoided the highway; this is good news from a road mortality standpoint, bad news from a population connectivity standpoint. Stress hormone (corticosterone) concentrations were similar between Bypass and roadless site at the onset of the study, but they spiked a year later at the road site.
Eastern Box Turtle on a forest road in Wayne National Forest, Ohio; Photo by Ryan Wagner
  • Summer 2019 – Many exciting things going on in the lab! Courtney Silver will join the lab in the Fall as a PhD student; she comes from California State University, Chico, and is interested in amphibian ecology and conservation. We (Romanian colleagues and I) also published a Perspective in journal in Science (14 June issue) calling for transparent science and decision process around large carnivore conservation and management in Romania: Romanian carnivores at a crossroads. We have been providing scientific support to several NGO’s and wildlife management agencies on large carnivore research projects… busy time in Romania!
  • January 2019 – Second collaboration with Dr. Bekka Brodie, and the first paper on invertebrates from our lab! We developed a non-lethal monitoring method using pheromone lures and occupancy methods to assess saproxylic beetle diversity and abundance, focused on a beautiful traditionally-maintained landscape in SW Romania. Read more in this post on the OHIO College of Arts and Sciences Forum.
  • November 2018 Heidi Bencin is the second lab fledgling! CONGRATS Heidi for a fabulous MSc thesis and defense on bobcats, roads, camera trapping, genetics… and so on…! Thank you for the incredible amount of work and dedication… and your amazing drawings! 
  • September 2018 – Our lab, supported by several other faculty in the Departments of Biological Sciences, Environmental and Plant Biology and the Voinovich School Environmental Studies Program, was awarded $50,000 from the Ohio University 1804 Fund to develop an outdoor aquatic mesocosm research facility on the OHIO Athens campus. This facility research will provide research and experiential learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students, and facilitate collaborations with a broad network of similar facilities in the US Midwest and Northeast. Find more details about the facility and ongoing aquatic mesocosm research involving larval amphibians at OHIO here.


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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