Rubenstein School faculty and students study how wildlife populations respond to landscape change. Our research involves a combination of field studies and modeling to describe populations of wildlife, such as bobolinks, bears, and bobcats, and explore the impacts of a variety of landscape changes such as those from climate change, energy generation, farming practices, and urban development. Our faculty includes members of the Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and many of our projects occur in collaboration with the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Faculty Research Programs
Therese (Terri) Donovan
Landscape ecology, wildlife population modeling
Population dynamics and modeling, structured decision making, landscape ecology and conservation biology broadly define Terri’s research. As the assistant leader of the Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Terri’s research has an applied angle that meets cooperator’s research needs. The Unit’s main cooperators are the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department and the U.S. Department of Interior. Terri’s current projects focus on developing methods for monitoring animals (birds, bats, frogs, and insects) via acoustic recordings, adaptive management of harvested species in Vermont, and evaluating how forest management affects long-term carbon storage, energy production, and wildlife distributions for black bear, bobcat, and fisher. Terri also maintains the Spreadsheet Project, a website that provides teaching materials related to modeling, conservation biology, ecology, and parameter estimation methods.
Disease and population ecology, quantitative ecology, conservation decision-making, herpetology, conservation biology
Brittany’s research focuses on understanding how stressors like landscape change and emerging infectious disease affect wildlife populations. She often works with natural resource decision-makers who are considering which steps to take to minimize impacts to wildlife while balancing other competing interests. Brittany works across taxonomic groups, but most often with herpetofauna (amphibians and reptiles). Some of Brittany’s current projects relate to understanding the fitness consequences of parasites in Vermont’s moose population, investigating the community disease dynamics in co-occurring amphibians, and evaluating best management practices for meeting forest health goals while maintaining vernal pool amphibian populations.
James (Jed) Murdoch
Wildlife ecology, conservation biology
Jed's research focuses mainly on understanding how human activities impact wildlife species. Much of his work centers on carnivores, especially canids, and he approaches questions using a combination of behavior and ecology studies, experimentation, and modeling. Projects are varied and occur here in Vermont, but also abroad in Asia and Africa. Recent projects include examining how projected development will affect bobcats in Vermont, measuring and mapping wolf-livestock conflict in Mongolia, and evaluating the impacts of wire-snare poaching on large carnivores and elephants in Zambia.
Avian ecology, conservation biology, landscape ecology
Allan's research considers the drivers of habitat quality, with a specific focus on birds as well as a more general focus on other wildlife. One of his current studies focuses on grassland birds in a multifunctional agricultural landscape, considering solutions to the decline in grassland birds without adding economic hardship to farmers. He is also working on a project about the ecosystem services of urban tree cover.