Wildlife Ecology and Conservation


Romanian Large Carnivore Conservation

Romania hosts a significant proportion of the European carnivore populations (brown bear, Eurasian lynx, gray wolf), and their conservation status in Romania influences the European-level conservation strategies. For brown bears, hunting represents a major source of contention between the regulatory agencies and ENGOs, stemming from a less-than rigorous approach to estimating abundances (which hunting quotas rely on). We work with Romanian academics, NGOs and EPAs to develop monitoring protocols for large carnivores.

Funding: Romanian NSF, European Commission LIFE NATURE Programme


  • Popescu, V.D, M.I. Pop*, S. Chiriac, and L. Rozylowicz (2019) Romanian large carnivores at a crossroads. Science 364 (6445): 1041
  • Iosif, R., M. I. Pop, L. Rozylowicz , S. Chiriac, R. M. Sandu, L. Berde, S. Szabó, V. D. Popescu (acceptedDen structure and landscape-scale selection of denning habitat by brown bears in the Romanian Carpathians. Ursus
  • Pop, M.I., I. Ruben, I.V. Miu, S. Chiriac, L. Rozylowicz, and V.D. Popescu (2018) Combining resource selection functions and home range to identify conservation priority habitats for brown bears. Animal Conservation 21: 352-362
  • Pop., M., L. Bereczky, S. Chiriac, R. Iosif, A. Nita, V.D. Popescu, and L. Rozylowicz (2018) Movement ecology of brown bears (Ursus arctos) in the Romanian Eastern CarpathiansNature Conservation 26: 15-31
  • Popescu, V.D., R. Iosif, M. Pop, S. Chiriac, G. Bouros, and B.J. Furnas. (2017) Integrating sign surveys and home range data for estimating brown bear (Ursus arctos) density in the Romanian Carpathians. Ecology and Evolution 7: 7134-7144
  • Popescu, V.D., Artelle, K., M. Pop, S. Manolache, and L. Rozylowicz (2016) Assessing biological realism of wildlife population estimates in data-poor systems. Journal of Applied Ecology 53(4): 1248-1259

Bobcat Ecology and Population Dynamics in Ohio

In Ohio, we work with Ohio Department of Natural Resources on carnivore ecology and determining patterns of species occurrence in SE Ohio. The focal species are bobcat and grey fox. We implemented a camera trapping in Summer 2016, which formed the basis for a Honors Tutorial College Senior Thesis by Mackenzie Rich.

We are currently funded by the Ohio DNR ($245,000) over the next 4 years to develop a population model for Ohio’s recovering bobcat population to aid management and conservation. Grad student Heidi Bencin (MSc 2018) implemented a preliminary camera trapping and non-invasive genetics study in Summer/Fall 2017.


Funding: Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio University Student Enhancement Award (Heidi Bencin), Ohio Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Studies (Heidi Bencin)


  • Bencin, H.*, C. Rose, S. Prange and V.D. Popescu (2019) Roadkill and space use data predict vehicle-strike hotspots and mortality rates in a recovering bobcat (Lynx rufus) population. Scientific Reports 9: 15391
  • Rich, M., C. Thompson, S. Prange, and V.D. Popescu (2018) Relative importance of habitat characteristics and interspecific interactions in determining terrestrial carnivore occurrence. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 6:78


Developing Occupancy-Based Monitoring Protocols for Territorial Species

We work with the Peery Lab at University of Wisconsin, Madison (through a US Forest Service grant) on evaluating the power of using acoustic monitoring for California Spotted Owls. Acoustic monitoring represents a cheaper alternative to intense population monitoring based on capturing and following We are running a range of simulations to evaluate (1) the power to detect changes in territory occupancy due to fire-suppression forestry treatments, and (2) the power to detect long-term trends in territory occupancy. These simulations are aimed to inform the US Forest service on the best strategies to implement an acoustic-based monitoring protocol in terms of number of sites, and number of annual revisits to detect population changes. This framework extends work with the de Valpine Lab at University of California Berkeley on combining BACI and occupancy designs, part of the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project.

Funding: US Forest Service


  • Wood, C., V. D. Popescu, H. Klinck, J. Keane, R. J. Gutierrez, S. Sawyer, F. Atuo, and M. Z. Peery (2019) Detecting small population changes at landscape scales: A bioacoustic-site occupancy framework. Ecological Indicators 98: 492-507
  • Popescu, V.D., P. de Valpine, D. Tempel, and M.Z. Peery (2012) Estimating population impacts via dynamic occupancy analysis of Before-After Control-Impact studiesEcological Applications 22: 1389-1404.

Pacific Fisher Ecology and Management

West Coast Pacific Fishers (Pekania pennanti) are considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act. With several small disjunct populations remaining, considerable efforts are being put into investigating causes of declines and understanding population and spatial dynamics. We worked with the de Valpine Lab and wildlife biologist Rick Sweitzer at UC Berkeley within the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project to gain insights into Pacific Fisher population status in the Sierra National Forest.

Funding: US Forest Service


  • Popescu, V.D., P. de Valpine and R. Sweitzer (2014) Testing the consistency of wildlife data types before combining them: the case of camera traps and telemetry. Ecology and Evolution 4(7):933-943
  • Sweitzer, R., V.D. Popescu, K.L. Purcell, C.M. Thompson, and R.H. Barrett (2015) Population size, density, and demography of fishers (Pekania pennanti) in the Sierra National Forest, CaliforniaJournal of Mammalogy 96(4): 772-790
  • Sweitzer, R. A. , V. D. Popescu, R. H. Barrett, C. M. Thompson, K. L. Purcell, G.M. Wengert, M.W. Gabriel, and L.W. Woods (2016) Mortality risks and limits to population growth of Fishers in CaliforniaJournal of Wildlife Management 80: 438-451

White-Tailed Deer Road Ecology

Mitigation of deer-vehicle collisions in the Nelsonville Bypass of US Highway 33; we worked with the Ohio Dept of Transportation and the Environmental Studies Program at the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University to monitor deer movements and the efficacy of road mortality mitigation structures using remote cameras and pellet count surveys


Funding: Ohio Department of Transportation

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