WCS North America

Staff

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Jon Beckmann
Connectivity Initiative Coordinator
As a Conservation Scientist at WCS, Jon is the Connectivity Initiative Coordinator for the North America Program. As Principle Investigator or Co-PI on several projects in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the Sierra-Nevada, Great Basin, and other regions of North America, Jon’s current research and conservation portfolio includes: 1) examining impacts of natural gas development on pronghorn; 2) protecting ungulate (pronghorn, moose and elk) migrations by understanding and reducing impacts of wildlife-vehicle collisions and rural residential sprawl in migration corridors; 3) investigating and reducing human-bear conflicts along the wildland-urban interface; 4) using resource selection modeling, Brownian Bridge models, and circuit theory modeling to examine connectivity for large carnivores and ungulates; 5) examining impacts of the border fence along the US-Mexico border on wildlife connectivity (jaguars and other species); and 6) understanding how human-altered environments impact cougar ecology, behavior and population dynamics. Along with >40 publications, Jon is lead editor on a book titled Safe Passages: Highways, Wildlife and Habitat Connectivity. Jon has given over 60 scientific meeting presentations and over 40 invited university and professional training presentations. His research has been the subject of more than 100 radio, television, and newspaper features including NBC Nightly News, Discovery Channel, NY Times, LA Times, Newsweek, National Geographic, and The Wall Street Journal. Jon applies science to affect conservation through the public policy arena; for example, his collaborative field research motivated the $9.7M construction of under- and overpasses on a Wyoming highway to provide the Path of the Pronghorn migration safe passage across the road, and his published research and outreach on human-bear conflicts prompted new bear-resistant dumpster laws and ordinances in several counties in California and Nevada.
Renee Seidler
Pronghorn Field Leader
Renee is originally from the Pacific Northwest. She received her B.S. in Molecular and Microbiology from Arizona State University and her Masters degree in Wildlife Biology from Utah State University. She began working with WCS in 2003 and helped to launch the Wildlife and Energy Development project in the Upper Green River Basin in 2005. She has conducted behavioral and ecological research on coyotes, wolves, moose, pronghorn, small mammals, and birds in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and Panama. She is composing manuscripts from her thesis work on coyote predation management and was awarded the Richard Denny Best Speaker Award by the Colorado Chapter of The Wildlife Society for presentation of this work. Renee's area of expertise is in field design and research.
Jeff Burrell
Northern Rockies Program Coordinator
Jeff Burrell is the Northern Rockies Program Coordinator for the Wildlife Conservation Society. Jeff joined WCS in 2003 and has a Master's of Science degree in Range and Wildlife Management and a Master's of Science degree in Geology and Geophysics from Texas Tech University. He has more than 30 years of experience with federal and state agencies and Texas Tech University in stream and riparian habitat restoration science in the western U.S. In addition to developing and overseeing implementation of WCS conservation strategy in the Northern Rockies, Jeff leads WCS efforts to bring stakeholders together to conserve and restore wildlife connectivity within the Northern Rockies.
Jodi Hilty
Executive Director, North America Program
Since 2007, Dr. Jodi Ann Hilty has been providing leadership on the scientific applications utilized to address four major natural resource management and conservation issues across North America. These areas include promoting healthy communities to sustain a healthy environment, identifying and protecting wildlife corridors allowing species room to roam, reducing the threats of natural resource extraction and addressing the myriad of challenges climate change poses to wildlife and wild places. Overseeing a staff of 60 working in some of the most remote locations, Dr. Hilty promotes the active engagement of WCS in the larger scientific and conservation communities, strengthens partnerships with agencies and organizations, and cultivates the next generation of conservation science leaders. Trained as a conservation biologist at the University of California, Berkley, her passion is focused on finding creative, science-based solutions to resolve critical conflicts between humans and the natural world.
Joel Berger
Muskox Program Coordinator
Dr. Berger directs a number of projects for WCS; among these are the pronghorn migration corridor conservation project and the impact of energy development on wildlife projects in Greater Yellowstone, the impacts of climate change on musk ox in the Alaskan Arctic and the saiga antelope conservation project in Mongolia. Joel received his doctoral degree in biology from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and subsequently worked for the Smithsonian Institution for 7 years before becoming a tenured full professor at the University of Nevada, Reno (16 years). His current research focuses on the conservation of species and intact ecosystems. He has written 4 books on wild horses, rhinos, bison, and fear in prey species. Joel is also the John J. Craighead Chair in Wildlife Biology at the U of Montana.
John Weaver
Senior Conservation Scientist
John Weaver is a carnivore conservation biologist for WCS based in Missoula, Montana with field programs in the western United States and Canada that are focused on large landscape conservation, wildlife connectivity and adaptation to climate change. Over the past 25 years, John has played many key roles in large carnivore conservation in the United States and Canada. His dissertation research was on the ecology of wolf predation in the high-diversity ungulate environment of Jasper National Park, Alberta. John has held leadership positions with the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on endangered species and has served on several recovery teams, including for both wolves and grizzly bears. Over the years, he has perfected hair snaring techniques for lynx and bear surveys and invented a lynx lure that is now widely used. He has authored more than 20 scientific publications and served as a reviewer for five scientific journals. John has an academic appointment at the University of Montana. He is particularly interested in conservation strategies that address the resiliency mechanisms of vulnerable species.
Michale Glennon
Adirondack Landscape Science Coordinator
As Science Coordinator for the Adirondack Program of the Wildlife Conservation Society, Michale serves a leading role in the ecological research conducted in the Adirondacks. Her research interests lie primarily at the intersection between land use management and ecological integrity, with a number of projects ranging from the impacts of low density, exurban development on wildlife to the potential changes to Adirondack lowland boreal communities resulting from climate change. Together with colleague Heidi Kretser, Michale has conducted a number of studies focused on exurban development in the Adirondacks in an effort to understand the specific impacts on avian communities, the area around residential homes in which wildlife communities are most strongly altered, the habitat characteristics and human activities associated with exurban development that most impact wildlife, and the characteristics of wildlife communities before and after residential development. She has also worked to predict changes in avian communities resulting from future development, and together with Heidi, has explored how wildlife communities react to residential development across widely differing ecosystems by examining these questions in both the Adirondack and Greater Yellowstone Ecosystems. She continues to expand upon this work to answer critical research questions for our region and to provide information from local research that can be used to inform land management and planning decisions. Michale joined WCS in 2003 after completing a Ph.D. at the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry where she explored the effects of land use management on bird and small mammal communities in the Adirondack Park. She was instrumental in the application of the Landscape Species Approach in the Adirondacks, applying the tools of the WCS Living Landscapes Program to provide site-based conservation priorities for the park based on a suite of landscape focal species. She has also worked on the potential impacts of ski area development on Bicknell’s thrush, a Neotropical migrant of high conservation priority in the east, and on a project to understand the rapidly expanding moose population in the Adirondacks and its relatedness to nearby populations in neighboring states and provinces. In addition to her exurban development work, Michale is currently working to understand the status and distribution of a suite of lowland boreal birds in the Adirondack Park and the potential impacts of climate change on these vulnerable species. Michale serves on the advisory board of the Shingle Shanty Preserve and Research Station, the Technical Advisory Committee for the Adirondack Park Agency, the Biodiversity Conservation Advisory Committee for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Forest and Land Management Task Force of the Adirondack Climate Action Plan, the Avian Taxonomic Working Group of the Adirondack All-Taxa Biodiversity Inventory, and the Paul Smiths College Fisheries and Wildlife Science Advisory Board.
Zoe Smith
Adirondacks Landscape Coordinator
Zoe Smith joined WCS in 2000 and is currently the Landscape Coordinator for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Adirondack Program. Her conservation interests lie in working with communities on local issues particularly wildlife conflict on the human/wild interface and building local leadership for conservation. Zoe is an active member of the Adirondack Common Ground Alliance core group and participates in various regional Smart Growth projects. Zoe was an appointed member of the Northern Forest Center’s Sustainable Economy Initiative that developed a 4-state economic strategy for rural Northern Forest communities. Zoe leads WCS’ Black Bear Education, Awareness, and Research Program and is a member of the New York State Black Bear Management Team. She currently sits on the Boards of the Adirondack Economic Development Corporation and Sustainable Communities Inc. Zoe has lived and worked in the Adirondack Park for almost 20 years and is an active member of her local community. Her professional background is in wilderness recreation leadership, management, and community building. She holds a BA in Natural Resource Economics from SUNY Fredonia.

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