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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 Director of the program. My position involves conducting research on the natural world, 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.
Oribi, zebra, wildebeest density in Zambia (6/24/17)
Colleague Jassiel M'Soka recently had a paper published on the influence on environment and people on the density and distribution of oribi, zebra, and wildebeest in Zambia. The paper is 'Early View'. See: 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. DOI: 10.1111/aje.12398
UVM Kroepsch-Maurice Award (5/17/17)
I am absolutely delighted (and humbled) to have won the University of Vermont's Kroepsch-Maurice Excellence in Teaching Award. The award is truly an honor. For details, please see the university's Center for Teaching and Learning.
ASM travel award (4/10/17)
Congratulations to Cody Aylward, who is a graduate student in our wildlife group, for receiving a Travel Award from the American Society of Mammalogists to attend their annual conference held this year in Idaho. Cody will be presenting his work on American marten genetics and distribution in the northeastern United States.
Managing argali as an ecosystem service (3/6/17)
We just had a paper accepted that describes how landscape characteristics influence the distribution of argali sheep, the world's largest mountain sheep and an important cultural ecosystem service provider in Mongolia. The article was just published: 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.
Teaching climate change & sustainability (2/14/17)
Kim Coleman of the Vermont Higher Education Council spearheaded an assessment of service-learning pedagogy to improve student learning around climate change and sustainability. Her work synthesized data from four courses colleagues and I taught and has some nice results. The work was supported by the Northern New England Campus Compact (NNECC) and U.S. EPA. Coleman, K., J. Murdoch, S. Rayback, A. Seidl, and K. Wallin. 2017. Students' understanding of sustainability and climate change across linked service-learning courses. Journal of Geoscience Education 65:158-167.
Wolves, pastoralists, and livestock (1/18/17)
Colleague Stefan Ekernas just published a great paper in Conservation Biology that brought together lots of work on wolves, argali, and people at our field site (Ikh Nart Nature Reserve) in Mongolia. Check it out: 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.
A snapshot of current projects
Effects of landscape
Maximizing protected area
conservation for wildlife
A selection of recent articles | Google Scholar profile
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
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.
Wildlife & landscape development
Espenshade, J., J. Murdoch, T. Donovan, R. Manning, C. Bettigole, and J. Austin. In review. Public acceptability of development in the Northern Forest of Vermont, USA – the influence of wildlife information, recreation involvement, and demographic characteristics. PLOS ONE.
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 (early view). DOI: 10.1111/aje.12398
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