Research

Ecology and Conservation Biology

As our landscapes change, we must identify conflicts with the needs of wild things and generate innovative solutions that allow us to live alongside them in perpetuity. Natural history and ecology will lead the way forward while social sciences will show us how to put the conservation in action. Our goal is to help people share landscapes with creatures that are living and breathing, wild and free-ranging.

We strive to conduct and support research relevant to current conservation issues while generating information that will aid in the formulation of effective multi-species conservation planning. Our grants program helps support this work all around the world, from Arkansas to Nepal.

Thanks to a collaboration with Logan Schmitt, we raised funds to expand an existing Hellbender conservation project in the Western Highland Rim of Tennessee. We hope this expansion will help stabilize the population in an additional stream habitat while we work to understand why they are declining.

Hellbender populations in middle Tennessee have experienced alarming declines over the past two decades. We are installing a series of nest boxes within a Tennessee stream to provide critical habitat the Hellbenders there urgently need for nesting areas and hiding spots. The target stream contains only large adult salamanders, an important clue that the Hellbender population is declining, probably because they are not reproducing successfully. We will also initiate a health assessment and monitoring program to better understand why the Hellbender population is in trouble. Our conservation efforts will aim to bolster this population by improving the chances of reproduction as well as increasing the survival of hatchling Hellbenders.