Students doing research in my lab — the Conservation Biology Lab at Middlebury College — generally are working on multiple-semester honors theses either in the Biology Department or the Program in Environmental Studies.  I tend to give students a wide range of latitude in their selection of projects, and as a result, studies carried out in my lab include field studies, landscape-scale GIS analyses, and development of theoretical population models.  All are united, however, by the overarching themes of conservation biology and natural history.


  • Heather Cox: Spatio-temporal patterns in community structure and molt in West Ecuadorian avifauna.
  • Matt Stefanik: The effects of biophysical and hydrodynamic factors on larval reef fish settlement on the southern shore of St. John, USVI.
  • Anna Willig: Parrotfish, algae, and coral dynamics in The Bahamas.


  • Pete Kerby-Miller: Developing a GIS-based spawning habitat model for landlocked Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in the Winooski River basin of Vermont.


  • Spencer Hardy: A high-resolution assessment of the ichthyofauna of the Lewis Creek, Addison and Chittenden Counties, Vermont.
  • Elizabeth Green: Intraspecific variation in morphology of spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) larvae and gray tree frog (Hyla versicolor) tadpoles and the morphological influence on their predator-prey interactions.


  • Hayden Shea: Investigating the conservation planning implications of species distribution modeling: using the brown bog sedge (Carex buxbaumii) in New York as a test case.


  • Isaac Baker: Microgrid checklist: The university approach.
  • Amanda Werrell: Does the use of bird feeders bias our understanding of population trends in winter birds?


  • Jake Nonweiler: Influences of feather structure and carotenoid pigmentation on sexual dichromatism in the ultraviolet spectrum among passerines.
  • Carson Hauck: Incidence of the intestinal parasite Strongyloides robustus in the southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans) in a Vermont mixed conifer-hardwood forest.

2012 – 2013

  • Isaac Baker: An analysis of energy efficiency and solar hot water potential for smaller Middlebury College housing.
  • Alec Nelson: Seasonal population trends in East Coast songbirds (Passeriformes): Analysis through paired national monitoring programs.
  • Avery Shawler: Using GIS to conduct a multi-criteria evaluation for potential bat habitat and to design a spatially balanced random household survey methodology for the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife.
  • Ford Van Fossan: Assessing the feasibility of reintroducing black bear (Ursus americanus) to the Delmarva Peninsula of Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia.

2011 – 2012

  • Jessie Williamson: Effects of gap width and perceived risk of predation on resident passerine gap-crossing behavior.

2010 – 2011

  • Laura Budd: Does scale matter for the characterization and management of a South African riparian ecosystem?
  • Lauren K. Sanchez: Carbon dynamics at Harvard Forest: Ecological responses to changes in the growing season.  Co-advised with Dr. Andrea Lloyd.
  • Virginia Shannon: Restoring landlocked Atlantic salmon to Lake Champlain.
  • Connor Wood: Assessing landscape connectivity: A sensitivity analysis of Circuitscape applied to the northern Green Mountains.


  • Clare O. Crosby: Assessing the relationship between avian population dynamics and the Human Footprint in the United States.
  • Cassidy D’Aloia: Estimating demographic changes in sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) in Lake Champlain. Co-advised with Dr. Sallie Sheldon.
  • Bart DiFiore: Biochemical profiling of secondary stress parameters in nine species of carcharhinid and lamnid shark.
  • Ian M. Evans: Assessing ecosystem threat in the United States using the Human Footprint.
  • Leslie Moffat: An assessment of wildlife use of the Middlebury College willow plantation.


  • Walter “Tripp” Burwell: Modeling mammal movement in the Champlain Valley.
  • Zoë Jewett Sheldon: Sprawl and biotic homogenization: The effects of diffuse residential development on vertebrate wildlife.
  • R. Emerson Tuttle: The use of winter tree roosts by southern flying squirrels (Glaucomys volans) in a Vermont old-growth forest.


  • Dalal Al-Abdulrazzak: The distribution of Marine Protected Areas in the United States across levels of protection: A new tool for classification.
  • Patrick L. Johnson: An analysis of the first spring arrival dates of migratory birds to Vermont from 1974-2006.
  • M. Taylor Long: Incorporating temperature-dependent hatchling sex rations into a stage-based loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) population model.
  • Karen A. Stahlheber: Sheep grazing as a management strategy for reducing scrub oak (Quercus spp.) area on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts.


  • Kyle W. vonHasseln: The phylogeography of Elaphe spp. (North American ratsnake) in the Champlain Valley of New York and Vermont.  Co-advised with Dr. Jeremy Ward and Dr. Helen Young.


  • Andrew Dines: Effects of road crossings on stream-dwelling macroinvertebrates in the Green Mountains.
  • Emily K. Owen: A meta-analysis of Rapid Biodiversity Assessments as a conservation tool: The evolution and effectiveness of Conservation International’s Rapid Assessment Program and The Nature Conservancy’s Rapid Ecological Assessments.


  • Ian Ausprey: Biological reserve design in southwestern Maine: Using ecological reatures to make conservation priorities.
  • Katherine Mertes: Evaluating protected area buffer zones: Lessons from the literature and a study of World Bank buffer zone projects.
  • Caitlin Hicks: Stochastic modelling of the southeastern United States loggerhead sea turtle population and its implications for conservation.
  • Ayala Wineman: Migration strategies and stopover ecology of Blackcaps (Sylvia atricapilla) in Eilat, Israel.


  • Timothy Marks: Spatially structured and unstructured models for population growth of Peregrine Falcons in California: A comparison of conclusions.
  • Kirsten Thomas: Vulture conservation in southern Africa: A study of feeding behaviors of the Cape Griffon, Whitebacked, and Lappetfaced Vulture, and an evaluation of data collection methods and procedures used by the Rare and Endangered Species Trust.


  • Parnham Gardner: Radiant heat from compost as a source of energy to heat a greenhouse: An experimental design.
  • Nicola K. Kieves: A temporal and spatial analysis of six Vermont bird species.
  • Stewart Peery: Coexistence of two species of Peromyscus in the Otter Creek Swamp.
  • Laurie Richmond: The impact of forest management on populations of the red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus) in the Green Mountains of Vermont.


  • Katie Bender: Environmental stressors: primates in the field and hamsters in the lab. Co-advised with Dr. David Parfitt.
  • Elizabeth Harper: Patterns of distribution of leaf litter frogs in three life zones in Costa Rica.
  • Lourie Yelton: Use of immunocontraception for the management of white-tailed deer and feral horses.


  • Christos Astaras: Geographic patterns of genetic variation of Semotilus atromaculatus (Pisces: Cyprinidae) and their implications for conservation.
  • Nina Gawne: Building a teaching landscape for Bicentennial Hall, Middlebury College. Co-advised with Dr. Glenn Andres.
  • Buffy Hastings: Species-area relationship of birds in the continental United States: the influence of geography and environmental heterogeneity.
  • Kate LaRiche: A biological inventory of Middlebury College’s North Bread Loaf forest for potential use as an educational forest for the college, Addison County, Vermont.
  • John-Alex Mason: A GIS-based watershed analysis and subsequent watershed-based management recommendations for the North Unit of the Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont.
  • Paul Woodworth: A reconstruction of pre-colonial forest composition in Milton, Vermont.


  • Madelyn Carpenter: A study of the ecological effects of wildfire and prescribed burning in the New Jersey Pine Barrens.
  • Beth DeLisle: The use of management indicator species on the Green Mountain National Forest.
  • Philip Higuera: Conservation status of Vermont bat populations.


  • Meredith DuBarry: The effect of land-use practices on the invasibility of forest communities by non-native species.
  • Amy Flanders: The call of the wild: The restoration of Adirondack Wolves.


  • Liba Pejchar: Geographic patterns of exotic plants in New England.
  • Jennie S. Reithel: The effect of clearcutting on soil microbial biomass in a Vermont deciduous forest. Co-advised with Dr. Grace Spatafora.


  • Timothy J. Bernard: An examination of microhabitat selection and length of torpor in Myotis bats during hibernation.
  • Rachel Bryant: Field study of communication and behavior in Corvus brachyrynchos that winter in Vermont
  • Jeremy Hertzig: Microhabitat use in winter flocks of Black-capped Chickadees (Parus atricapillus): A comparison of foraging behavior in a deciduous and a coniferous forest.


  • Teresa Bowers: Response of small mammal distributions and abundances to two decades of forest decline on Camel’s Hump, Vermont.
  • Jonathan Maziarz: Winter activity, microclimate selection, and other aspects of hibernation in five species of bats in Vermont.


  • Bradley W. Kirschner: Farming and its effects on stream fish biodiversity.
  • Jessica Tuck: Fish species diversity above and below the Richville Dam on the Lemon Fair River, Addison County, Vermont.


  • Susannah L. Tracy: The accuracy of morphological measurements and habitat type in determining species of genus Peromyscus in Vermont.


  • Kimberly Bennett: Diet selection and hibernation in the eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus).
  • George C. Hurtt: An analysis of the precision and the accuracy of point‐centred‐quarter sampling as applied to a plot of an Australian wet tropical rainforest community.

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