• 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 2018Heidi 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.
  • August 2018 – PhD student Matt Kaunert, joined by with OHIO undergraduate researchers Andrew Travers, Ryan Wagner, Christine Hanson, and Megan Sweeney, Hocking College student Hannah Kopp, research assistant Julia Golias, and French graduate Student Eva Garcia, are helping out with Eastern Hellbender releases in Ohio (in collaboration with Ohio DNR; see photos below) and deployment of nest boxes, a habitat augmentation strategy, in Pennsylvania.
  • July 2018 – Marcel Weigand, Cassie Thompson and Heidi Bencin presented their MSc research at the North American Congress for Conservation Biology, Toronto. Cassie and Marcel were selected as Student Award Finalists, out of hundreds of abstract submissions! Congrats…. #OhioBobcats represent!
  • JULY 2018First thesis defense in my lab! Marcel Weigand did an incredible job showcasing her novel ecological and physiological research on impacts of roadways on Eastern Box Turtles. CONGRATULATIONS!
  • June 2018 – The lab’s first Ohio wildlife research paper published in the open -access journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution!
Rich, M., C. Thompson, S. Prange, and V.D. Popescu. Relative importance of habitat characteristics and interspecific interactions in determining terrestrial carnivore occurrence. This is our first field project in Ohio (2016) and was spearheaded by HTC and BIOS student Mackenzie Rich (now a MSc student at Wright State), and current graduate student Cassie Thompson; also a great collaboration first with Dr. Suzie Prange. We thank the Honors Tutorial College for funding Mackenzie to do this work. The study was featured on the OHIO CAS Forum.
  • April 2018 – A great month!!! Marissa Dyck accepted a PhD position on our lab working on bobcat ecology and will be joining us in the Fall; WELCOME! Cassie Thompson switched from MSc to a PhD position in the lab, so more frogs and climate change experimental work funded by NSF-Graduate Research Fellowship Program. Ohio DNR funded a 3-year project on Eastern Hellbender ecology and conservation; kudos to PhD student Matt Kaunert for all his work on developing this project, and thanks to collaborators Gregg Lipps, Steve Spear (The Wilds) and John Navarro (ODNR) for the support! New study on brown bear spatial ecology in Nature Conservation from PhD student Mihai Pop and collaborators at University of Bucharest.
  • April 2018 – Undergraduate student Ryan Brown (featured here with OHIO President Duane Nellis) won 1st place in the university-wide Student Expo competition. His poster on evaluating biases in citizen science data used for bobcat management in Ohio was absolutely amazing and all his hard work, both in the field and in the lab paid off. PART_1523556143659_IMG_4195
  • January 2018 – Seed grant money from the Ohio University Research Committee for Eastern Hellbender ecology! PhD student Matt Kaunert will be working closely with Ohio DNR to monitor captive-bred and released subadults using amplified PIT tag readers, and to understand reproductive ecology by monitoring nest boxes. Exciting project and a new species for our lab!
  • January 2018 – New paper in Animal Conservation on spatial conservation prioritization for Brown bears in Romania (with colleagues from University of Bucharest and Association for Biodiversity Conservation). We integrated space use information (home range, habitat selection) and systematic conservation planning (software Zonation) and identified connected, high conservation value habitats, which will inform current efforts to redraft the Romanian national management plan for brown bears!
  • September 2017 – We received funding from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to study bobcat ecology in Ohio! Looking forward to working with Ohio Division of Wildlife biologists over the next 4 years to develop a population model to understand the viability of Ohio’s recovering bobcat population, and inform bobcat management and conservation. Graduate student Heidi Bencin started preliminary work on occupancy and non-invasive genetics this Summer (2017).
  • August 2017: We are welcoming Matt Kaunert, the newest member of the Conservation Ecology lab at OhioU. Matt will pursue a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology focused on the ecology and behavior of the supercool Eastern Hellbender in Ohio.
  • August 2017: First lab fledgling!!! Mackenzie Rich defended her Honors thesis titled “Understanding the terrestrial carnivore community in SE Ohio”. CONGRATS! Mackenzie is doing an internship at The Wilds (Columbus Zoo) in central Ohio, and will start a Masters program at Wright State University in Fall 2018.
  • June 2017 – New paper on estimating brown bear abundance in the Romanian Carpathians using snow and mud track surveys is out in Ecology and Evolution! With colleagues from Vrancea EPA ( and Association for Biodiversity Conservation (, we tested the traditional method for monitoring brown bears using track surveys employed by the Romanian game managers by implementing a robust design (multiple visits on the same transect), using hierarchical statistical methods,  and integrating home range data. Well, even with all these twists, simply replying tracks did not fare well for estimating abundance, highlighting the need for a paradigm shift in Romanian large carnivore management, and for DNA-based surveys.
  • October 2016: New paper on collaboration in LIFE Nature conservation projects in Europe is out in PLoS ONE. Congrats to my collaborators from University of Bucharest for showing that international collaboration and experience sharing is key to successful conservation. UK organizations have been playing an important role at the continental level, so what will be the impacts of BREXIT on EU conservation as a whole???
  • September 2016Romanian carnivore research made TV NEWS! (sorry, video and article in Romanian only) The unexpected happened! After decades of same old carnivore management based on regulated hunting (read extremely profitable trophy hunting), the Romanian Academy and Ministry of Environment, under pressure from the public (and hopefully informed by our Journal of Applied Ecology paper on the lack of biological plausibility of carnivore data reported by wildlife managers), finally stepped up to the plate, and decided to BAN CARNIVORE TROPHY HUNTING IN ROMANIA. This is far from over, so stay tuned for new developments…
  • September 2016: the newest book in the ‘Techniques in Ecology and Conservation Series‘ from Oxford Univ Press is out: Reptile Ecology and Conservation, edited by Ken Dodd. Monika Bohm (Zoological Society of London) and I wrote a chapter on Landscape ecology and GIS methods used in reptile research (also check out the 2009 Amphibian Ecology and Conservation from the same series)
  • September 2016: our lab is partnering with Harvard University and Kunming Institute of Zoology (KIZ), China to develop an innovative and efficient performance indicator for biodiversity protection in Chinese Nature Reserves using iDNA and multi-species occupancy modeling (under a Harvard Global Institute $200,000 grant to Dr. Naomi Pierce (Harvard) and Dr. Douglas Yu (KIZ))
  • August 2016: Welcome to Heidi Bencin, Cassie Thompson, and Marcel Weigand, new MSc students in the lab!!! They will be working on carnivore conservation in OH, amphibians and climate change, and turtles and road ecology, respectively.
  • August 2016: New research with colleagues from China and UK on fungal diversity and CO2 emissions from decaying wood in Scientific Reports
  • July 2016: we received a $75,000 grant from the National Science Foundation China (PI: Dr. Doug Yu, geneticist from Kunming Institute of Zoology, Yunnan China) for developing iDNA methods for rapid biodiversity surveys based on indirect sampling using terrestrial leeches; our lab will be collaborating on multi-species occupancy analyses to evaluate vertebrate community composition
  • May 2016: Bobcat research by Honors student Mackenzie Rich and graduate student Cassie Thompson featured in the College of Arts and Sciences FORUM.
  • April 2016: New paper with colleagues from Romania and Canada in Journal of Applied Ecology on large carnivore hunting in Romania.

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