List of Conservation Committee Members: 2010 - 2011

Bruce A. Schulte, Current Chair
Ronald R. Swaisgood, Past Chair
Colleen Cassady St. Past Clair, Chair
Guillermo Paz-y-Miño C., Past Chair

  • Daniel T. Blumstein
  • Richard Buchholz
  • John Eadie
  • Esteban Fernandez-Jurcic
  • M. Elsbeth (Misty) McPhee
  • Bruce Schulte
  • Debra Shier
  • Ronald R. Swaisgood
  • Ilonka von Lippke
  • Jess Ward
  • Mark L. Wildhaber

More information about our members


Collee Cassady St. Clair

Colleen Cassady St. Clair, PhD, Past Chair

Department of Biological Sciences
University of Alberta

I work at the interface between Behavioural Ecology and Conservation Biology by studying the movement behaviour of animals living in human-altered landscapes. Much of this work has addressed the way animals respond to both barriers and corridors in their habitats. In addition to movement behaviour, we also study how manipulating animal behaviour can address problems of human-wildlife conflict. Study sites range from Northern British Columbia to Costa Rica. Taxonomic groups for previous studies have included songbirds, voles, elk, wolves, cougars, and bears. Please consult my lab website (above) for a description of current and recent projects.

Guillermo  Paz-y-Mino C.

Guillermo Paz-y-Mino C., PhD, Past Chair

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

I have broad interest and training in different fields of science, including behavioral ecology, cognitive ethology, neurobiology, and conservation biology. My research focuses in three main areas: the link between different levels of social organization and the cognitive abilities of animals (social cognition); the association between socio-sexual behaviors and the communication of signals for the recognition of kin (particularly the role of social memory for kin recognition); and the application of behavioral paradigms in conservation biology. I work with different biological systems including birds, mammals, and nematodes.

Dan Blumstein

Daniel T. Blumstein, PhD

Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
University of California Los Angeles
JWatcher--Free software for studying behavior:

I am a behavioral ecologist broadly interested in the evolution of social and antipredator behavior. My research has several themes: it is broadly interdisciplinary; it combines in situ, ex situ, and comparative studies; it uses the process of research to educate students and members of the community about science; and it integrates theory with applied biology. Current work focuses on three questions: 1) developing predictive models of the persistence of antipredator behavior under relaxed-selection; 2) understanding the evolution of complex communication and sociality; 3) developing an empirically-derived evolutionary ecology of fear. Additionally, I am a co-developer of JWatcher--a freely distributed program to quantify and analyze behavior. My conservation behavior experience includes both theoretical reviews which highlight and identify the relevance of behavioral knowledge for conservation questions, as well as theoretical and empirical work focusing on ways to increase reintroduction success. I am a member of the IUCN Reintroduction Specialist Group and am currently a member of the Channel Island fox recovery team. These days I work primarily with marmots, and to some extent birds and fishes. Previous work has focused on kangaroos, wallabies, and birds.

Richard Buchholz

Richard Buchholz

Department of Biology
University of Mississippi

As a graduate student Richard Buchholz co-organized the first ABS symposium on conservation and behavior in 1995, and later co-edited Behavioral Approaches to Conservation in the Wild (1997), the first text on conservation behavior. He is a past chair of the ABS Conservation Committee, and serves on the Cracid Specialist Group, which plans for the conservation of the most endangered Neotropical bird family, the chachalacas, guans and curassows.

Mentoring Statement

I am interested in mentoring students that will apply behavioral research to conservation issues. My conservation-oriented graduate students have investigated a range of questions and taxa, including methods to translocate endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers and oviposition site selection in salamanders. I serve on the Cracid Specialist Group, which plans for the conservation of the most endangered Neotropical bird family, the chachalacas, guans and curassows. Most of my currently funded research is not directed at conservation; I study parasite-mediated sexual selection in birds, particularly wild turkeys. However I have broad interests in theoretical and applied questions of animal behavior, and welcome prospective students in conservation behavior. Graduate students should peruse my publications (Clemmons & Buchholz 1997, Behavioral Approaches to Conservation in the Wild, Cambridge Univ. Press; and, Buchholz 2007, Behavioral biology: an effective and relevant conservation tool, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, August) to develop research ideas in conservation behavior.


John Eadie

Department of Wildlife, Fish & Conservation Biology
Department of Animal Science,
University of California - Davis

Dr Eadie's research interest include - the Avian ecology; waterfowl; management & conservation; population ecology; animal behavior; conservation genetics; wetland ecology and conservation. He is currently the D. G. Raveling Professor of Waterfowl Biology at U.C. Davis.

Esteban Fernandez-Jurcic

Esteban Fernandez-Juricic, Ph.D.

Department of Biological Sciences

California State University Long Beach


My research is question-driven and revolves around different aspects of animal behavior and conservation biology. Generally, my model species are birds, but I have also worked with mammals and frogs. I am particularly interested in the behavioral mechanisms underlying human-wildlife interactions in urbanized landscapes, protected areas, and airports. My goal is to understand the role of visual perception on the behavioral responses of birds to recreationists and aircraft in order to predict the levels of tolerance to different types and levels of human activities. This information can be used to develop novel management strategies. Birds are interesting models because of inter-specific differences in visual acuity, visual fields, and color vision. Therefore, my research integrates lab work, field work, and semi-natural experiments.

M. Elsbeth (Misty) McPhee

M. Elsbeth (Misty) McPhee

Cornell University
223 Uris
Ithaca, NY 14853

Broadly, I am interested in how individuals and populations respond to novel environments. Specifically, I compare captive and wild populations to explore how the selective pressures associated with captivity affect the distribution and expression of behavioral and morphological traits—and ultimately how they affect the success of conservation efforts, such as reintroductions, that use captive-bred animals. I have worked with big cats, birds, mice, and hamsters. I am currently testing hypotheses that explain why captive golden hamsters are strictly nocturnal while their wild counterparts are much more variable in their activity patterns, with the majority of their activity occurring during the day.

Bruce A. Schulte

Bruce A. Schulte, PhD - Current Chair

Department of Biology
Georgia Southern University

Dr. Schulte is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at Georgia Southern University. Previously, he was a professor at Providence College. He obtained his B.S. in biology from the College of William and Mary, his MSc in marine biology from the University of Southern California and his doctorate from the State University of New York – College of Environmental Science & Forestry. For his doctorate, he studied the behavior and chemical ecology of the North American beaver under the tutelage of Dietland Müller-Schwarze, who was a student of Nobel laureate Konrad Lorenz. Dr. Schulte was a post-doctoral research scientist at the Oregon Graduate Institute and worked with Dr. L.E.L. “Bets” Rasmussen on Asian elephant chemical ecology. Bets remained a good friend and collaborator, along with Dr. Tom Goodwin, on the NSF funded study of African elephant communication until her premature death in 2006. Dr. Schulte teaches courses in behavior, chemical ecology and environmental biology. Since his arrival at Georgia Southern University in 1999, ten students have graduated with their MSc degree (6 on elephants, 3 on manatees and 1 on beavers) with five students in progress. Numerous undergraduate students have participated in research with Dr. Schulte. He is happily married and the proud father of two lovely daughters.

Debra Shier

Debra Shier

Zoological Society of San Diego
15600 San Pasqual Valley Road
Escondido, CA 92027
(310) 455-2840<

For the past 14 years I have been studying the ways in which an understanding of animal behavior and behavioral ecology can be applied to conservation strategies such as reintroductions and translocations. In general, all of my research has focused on using basic theory to create effective and efficient relocation methods by encouraging settlement, dampening stress, and increasing post-release survival and reproductive success. Specifically, my research addresses 1) the kinds of captive learning experiences that are required for the development of effective antipredator behavior after release into the wild, 2) how social relationships among founders may affect their survival following translocation 3) whether natal habitat preferences can be exploited to enhance release site settlement and 4) whether behavioral consistency (temperament) affects post-release survival. My current research examines these questions in two endangered Heteromyids, the Pacific Pocket Mouse and Stephens’ kangaroo rat. I am currently the J. Dallas Clark postdoctoral fellow at CRES, the scientific center for conservation research of the Zoological Society of San Diego.

Ronald R. Swaisgood - Past Chair

Beckman Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Species (CRES)
Zoological Society of San Diego


I am interested in using behavioral research, theoretically driven, to tackle conservation problems, especially those related to captive breeding, reintroduction, and translocation. Generally, I address problems using an approach referred to as captive-field synergism, where I move back and forth between field and zoo-based studies. Most of my work has been with mammals, such as bears, rhinoceros, and elephants. In my longest-running project, I have worked closely with my Chinese colleagues at the Wolong Breeding Center for giant pandas for the past decade in a successful effort to overcome breeding problems in this species. One of my main areas of research addresses the role that chemical communication plays in reproduction and aggression. I have also worked to develop enrichment strategies in captive animals to promote wellbeing and captive breeding, and prepare animals for release to the wild. Other topics of interest include maternal care patterns, mating strategies, denning ecology, and an emerging interest in habitat selection and dispersal. As Head of the CRES Applied Animal Ecology Division, I also supervise several recovery programs for species such as California condors, endangered Hawaiian birds, San Clemente Island loggerhead shrikes, Caribbean rock iguanas, mountain yellow-legged frogs, and Pacific pocket mice. My overarching goal is to move beyond research that has implications for conservation in favour of research that has true, immediate application.

Ilonka von Lippke

University of California Los Angeles

I am interested in the evolution of social behavior, particularly in bird systems. I study how behavioral, ecological and genetic factors influence the variation in an individual's breeding success, the formation and maintenance of family social dynamics, and within group conflict. I am also interested in conservation genetics. I have conducted research in neotropical ornithology, particularly in mainland Ecuador and the Galapagos Archipelago, South America.

Jess Ward

Jessica Ward

Department of Ecology and Evolution
University of Toronto

I am a 5th year doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto. I am primarily interested in the evolution of animal communication and investigating the interplay between natural and sexual selection in the diversification of communication signals, as well as the role that such signals play in speciation. Additionally, I am interested in exploring how our knowledge of signal evolution and function can inform and predict the impact of anthropomorphic changes on resident wildlife. Currently, I am studying a piscine system (brook stickleback, Culaea inconstans) but I have previously worked on neotropical bats, crustaceans and birds.

Mark Wildhaber

Mark L. Wildhaber, Ph.D.

Quantitative Ecologist
U.S. Geological Survey
Columbia Environmental Research Center

I am a quantitative ecologist and conservation behaviorist at Columbia Environmental Research Center, US Geological Survey. Much of my current research centers around studies of the reproductive behavior and physiology and abiotic and biotic requirements for reproductive success of fish species that are federally-listed as threatened or endangered. Through my research, I am trying to provide a better understanding of how fish make behavioral decisions under complex (i.e., real world) conditions where habitat, food, predation, etc. must be dealt with simultaneously. This includes a better understanding how anthropogenic factors from physical habitat alteration to environmental contaminants affect the behavior of fishes. One of my ultimate goals is to use this information, along with information on fish behavior as it relates to thermoregulation, foraging, bioenergetics, predator avoidance, competition, etc., to develop mathematical models within an individual-based and spatially-explicit framework that can be used to forecast aquatic community patterns in response to natural and man-made environmental changes.