James D. Murdoch
Associate Professor | Wildlife Biology
University of Vermont
Welcome and thanks for visiting!
James (Jed) D. Murdoch | University of Vermont
Position & Background
I am a wildlife biologist and Associate Professor of the Wildlife & Fisheries Biology program in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont (USA). I am currently serving as Chair of the program. My position involves conducting research, teaching and mentoring students, and service to the community and profession.
I am originally from Vermont and joined the University of Vermont in 2009. I earned a BA (Biology) from Colorado College, MS (Biological Sciences) from University of Denver, and DPhil (Zoology - Wildlife Conservation Research Unit) from University of Oxford.
Aims & Interests
My research interests focus on the behavior and ecology of mammalian carnivores with an emphasis on their conservation. Much of my experience has focused on the Canidae, including foxes, wild dogs, and wolves, and explored aspects of their sociality, demography, food habits, ranging behavior, and activity patterns. I am also interested in understanding how human activities affect carnivores. For example, how do activities such as landscape development, climate change, and hunting/poaching affect carnivore populations? I use a combination of field studies, experimentation, and modeling to address these questions in a variety of areas including here in Vermont, but also Africa and Asia.
Wildlife Biology & Conservation
I teach undergraduate and graduate courses at the University of Vermont. Courses include those focusing on conservation biology, wildlife behavior, ecology, and management. I also teach methods courses in estimating species abundance and distribution. Course numbers include: WFB 150, WFB 224, WFB 275, WFB 283, WFB 387, and NR 103.
I serve on the Board of Trustees of The Nature Conservancy - Vermont. TNC has been active in Vermont for over 50 years and is an effective, science-based organization with an outstanding record of conservation success. I am also a member of the Vermont Scientific Advisory Group for Mammals, which provides scientific advice to the State of Vermont.
Wildlife and sustainable cashmere (2/21/19)
Thrilled to have been awarded a Gund Catalyst Award to develop a framework for a sustainable cashmere certification program with colleagues Jon Erickson and Pablo Bose from the University of Vermont and Ganchimeg Wingard at the Denver Zoo. The project will be developing an interdisciplinary framework that includes elements of wildlife biology, economics, and culture to support a sustainable cashmere system in Mongolia. It will draw on nearly two decades of work in Ikh Nart Nature Reserve.
Marten population genetics (1/2/19)
Congratulations to Cody Aylward for his new paper on the genetics of American marten in the northeastern United States. This study evaluated the origins of recently discovered marten in Vermont using genetic techniques and has implications for marten management and conclusions related to species' reintroductions. Cody was a former graduate student in our wildlife program. Aylward, C., J. Murdoch, and C. W. Kilpatrick. 2018. Genetic legacies of translocation and relictual populations of American marten at the southeastern margin of their distribution. Conservation Genetics, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10592-018-1130-3.
Wildlife, recreation, & landscape development (9/13/2018)
I am pleased to announce that we recently had an article accepted for publication that explores public acceptability of development and the influence of wildlife information, recreation involvement, and demographics. Jessica Espenshade, and former graduate student, led the research which involved surveying 9,000 households across Vermont. Here are details of the paper: Espenshade, J., J. Murdoch, T. Donovan, R. Manning, R. Mickey, and C. Bettigole. 2018. Public acceptability of development in the Northern Forest of Vermont, USA – the influence of wildlife information, recreation involvement, and demographic characteristics. PLoS ONE 13(12): e0203515. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal. pone.0203515.
Corsac and red fox morphology (6/25/18)
Congratulations to Dr. Tserendorj Munkhzul of the Institute of General and Experimental Biology of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences on the recent publication of her paper that analyzed morphological traits of corsac and red foxes: Munkhzul, T., R. P. Reading, B. Buuveibaatar, and J. D. Murdoch. 2018. Comparative craniometric measurements of two sympatric species of Vulpes in Ikh Nart Nature Reserve, Mongolia. Mongolian Journal of Biological Sciences 16:19-28.
Bobcat habitat selection (3/19/2018)
I'm delighted to announce that we recently had an article on bobcat habitat selection accepted for publication in the journal Landscape Ecology. The work was led by Hanem Abouelezz and Dr. Terri Donovan and examined aspects of bobcat movement behavior and habitat selection in Vermont. The article is entitled: Landscape composition mediates movement and habitat selection in bobcats (Lynx rufus): Implications for conservation planning.
Marten distribution and landscape connectivity (3/19/2018)
We just had an article on American marten distribution and connectivity accepted for publication in the journal Animal Conservation. The article is entitled: Estimating distribution and connectivity of recolonizing American marten in the northeastern United States using expert elicitation techniques. The article presents a distribution model for martens based on expert opinion data, a map of marten distribution across the northeastern US, and an assessment of landscape connectivity using a circuit theory approach.
Moose genetics (1/18/18)
We recently published a paper on the development of Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) markers in moose. This was a collaborative effort between multiple investigators and institutions. The results provide a efficient tool for identifying individuals and relatedness of individuals in a population using genetic samples, and have exciting prospects for addressing management and conservation questions: Kalbfleisch, T. S., B. M. Murdoch, T. P. L. Smith, J. D. Murdoch, M. P. Heaton, and S. D. McKay. 2018. A SNP resource for studying North American moose. F1000Research 7:40 DOI: 10.12688/f1000research.13501.1
A snapshot of current projects
Effects of landscape
for wildlife and people
A selection of recent articles | Google Scholar profile
Wildlife & landscape development
Espenshade, J., J. Murdoch, T. Donovan, R. Manning, C. Bettigole, and J. Austin. 2018. Public acceptability of development in the Northern Forest of Vermont, USA – the influence of wildlife information, recreation involvement, and demographic characteristics. PLoS ONE 13(12): e0203515. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal. pone.0203515.
Marten population genetics
Aylward, C., J. Murdoch, and C. W. Kilpatrick. 2018.
Genetic legacies of translocation and relictual populations of American marten at the southeastern margin of their distribution. Conservation Genetics. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10592-018-1130-3
Bobcat habitat selection
Abouelezz, H., T. Donovan, J. Murdoch, R. Mickey, M. Freeman, and K. Royar. 2018. Landscape composition mediates movement and habitat selection in bobcats (Lynx rufus): Implications for conservation planning. Landscape Ecology 33:1301-1318. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-018-0654-8
Marten distribution & connectivity
Aylward, C., J. Murdoch, T. Donovan, C. W. Kilpatrick, and C. Bernier. 2018. Estimating distribution and connectivity of recolonizing American marten in the northeastern United States using expert elicitation techniques. Animal Conservation 21:483-495.
Moose genetic tool
Kalbfleisch, T. S., B. M. Murdoch, T. P. L. Smith, J. D. Murdoch, M. P. Heaton, and S. D. McKay. 2018. A SNP resource for studying North American moose. F1000Research 7:40. https://doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.13501.1
Argali and ecosystem services
Murdoch, J., R. Reading, S. Amgalanbaatar, G. Wingard, and B. Lkhagvasuren. 2017. Ecological interactions shape the distribution of a cultural ecosystem service: argali sheep (Ovis ammon) in the Gobi-Steppe of Mongolia. Biological Conservation 209:315-322.
Wildebeest, zebra, oribi density
M’soka, J., S. Creel, M. Becker, and J. Murdoch. 2017. Ecological and anthropogenic effects on the density of migratory and resident ungulates in a human-inhabited protected area. African Journal of Ecology 55:618-631.
Argali corridor mapping
Murdoch, J., R. Reading, S. Amgalanbaatar, G. Wingard, and B. Lkhagvasuren. 2017. Argali sheep (Ovis ammon) movement corridors between critical resources in Ikh Nart Nature Reserve, Mongolia. Mongolian Journal of Biological Sciences 15:3-11.
Argali, wolves, and pastoralists
Ekernas, L. S., W. M. Sarmento, H. S. Davie, R. P. Reading, J. Murdoch, G. J. Wingard, S. Amgalanbaatar, and J. Berger. 2017. Desert pastoralists' negative and positive effects on rare wildlife in the Gobi. Conservation Biology 31:269-277.
Developing a model reserve
Reading, R., J. Murdoch, S. Amgalanbaatar, H. Davie, M. Jorgensen, D. Kenny, T. Munkhzul, G. Onloragcha, L. Rhodes, J. Schneider, T. Selenge, E. Stotz, S. Buyandelger, E. Tuguldur, and G. Wingard. 2016. From "paper park" to model protected area: transformation of Ikh Nart Nature Reserve, Mongolia. IUCN Parks 22.2:25-38.
Corsac foxes and habitat loss
Red fox phylogeny
Statham, M., J. Murdoch, J. Janecka, K. Aubry, C. Edwards, C. Soulsbury, O. Berry, Z. Wang, D. Harrison, M. Pearch, L. Tomsett, J. Chupasko, and B. Sacks. 2014. Range-wide multilocus phylogeography of the red fox reveals ancient continental divergence, minimal genomic exchange and distinct demographic histories. Molecular Ecology 23:4813-4830.
Current students and their projects
This is a personal website for James (Jed) D. Murdoch and the information, text, images, videos, content, opinions, and representations do not necessarily reflect those of the UVM Wildlife and Fisheries Biology Program, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont, The Nature Conservancy, or other organizations or entities mentioned on the site. All text, images, and videos are copyrighted. Use of text, images and other elements of this site requires permission from the author/photographer/producer. Videos may be used for free for educational purposes (any form of commercial use not allowed) and there is no guarantee on their content. If you have questions, please contact James Murdoch by email at email@example.com.