Welcome and thanks for visiting!
James (Jed) D. Murdoch | University of Vermont
Position & Background
I am a wildlife biologist and Professor in the Wildlife & Fisheries Biology program in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont (USA). My position involves conducting research, teaching and mentoring students, and service to the community and profession. I am also a Fellow at the Gund Institute for Environment.
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 wildlife with an emphasis on their management and conservation. Much of my experience has focused on large mammals, including carnivores and ungulates, and explored questions related to abundance and distribution, landscape connectivity, habitat selection, prey use, and demography. I am also interested in understanding how human activities affect wildlife. For example, how do activities such as landscape development, climate change, and hunting/poaching affect wildlife 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 295, 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, and IUCN SSC Canid Specialist Group.
The Nature Conservancy of Vermont (6/10/2023)
Happy to share that I will be serving as chair of the Board of Trustees of The Nature Conservancy of Vermont beginning this summer. I am thrilled to be working with such a talented group of professionals at TNC and look forward to supporting their conservation efforts in Vermont.
Snow leopard occurrence in INNR (1/30/2023)
Excited to announce a new publication about the occurrence of snow leopard in Ikh Nart Nature Reserve and the implications for conservation. Details can be found in: Wingard, G., R. Oyunbat, J. Zebrowski, R. Reading, E.Garroutte, A. Tumurbaatar, B. Otgongotob, B. Nyamsuren, and J. Murdoch. 2023. A new snow leopard record reflects the value of remote protected areas for connectivity. Oryx, doi:10.1017/S003060532200120X.
Moose genetics (1/1/2023)
I am pleased to announce a new forthcoming paper lead by Elias Rosenblatt on the regional genetics of moose across the northeastern US and Canada: Rosenblatt,E., K. Gieder, T. Donovan, J. Murdoch, T. Smith, M. Heaton,T. Kalbfleisch, B. Murdoch, S. Bhattarai, E. Pacht, E. Verbist, V. Basnayake, S. McKay. Accepted/forthcoming. Genetic diversity and connectivity of moose (Alces alces americana) in eastern NorthAmerica. Conservation Genetics.
Conservation Biology, 2nd edition (6/10/22)
Thrilled to announce that we will be developing a second edition of our Conservation Biology textbook for Oxford University Press. The book will include several new updates and expanded video exercises and challenge problems. Due out in the fall of 2024!
Coyotes in Cape Cod (6/9/2022)
Pleased to announce a new grant with the National Park Service (Inventory and Monitoring Division) to study coyotes in the Cape Cod National Seashore. Specifically we will be investigating questions related to coyote density in and around the park using genetic techniques.
*Update (7/2/2022): For details on applying to join the project as a graduate student, please see our position description on the Texas A&M Wildlife Jobs Board.
Snow leopard occurrence
Wingard, G., R. Oyunbat, J. Zebrowski, R. Reading, E.Garroutte, A. Tumurbaatar, B. Otgongotob, B. Nyamsuren, and J. Murdoch. 2023. A new snow leopard record reflects the value of remote protected areas for connectivity. Oryx.
Debow, J., J. Blouin, E. Rosenblatt, C. Alexander, K. Gieder, W. Cottrell, J. Murdoch, and T. Donovan. 2021. Effects of winter ticks and internal parasites on moose survival in Vermont, USA. Journal of Wildlife Management 85:1423-1439.
Moose stress and nutrition
Rosenblatt, E., J. Debow, J. Blouin, T. Donovan, J. Murdoch, S. Creel, W. Rogers, K. Gieder, N. Fortin, and C. Alexander. 2021. Juvenile moose stress and nutrition dynamics related to winter ticks, landscape characteristics, climate-mediated factors and survival. Conservation Physiology 9:coab048.
Hunting, climate, and pastoralism
Taylor, W., I. Hart, C. Pan, J. Bayarsaikhan, J. Murdoch, G. Caspari, M. Klinge, K. Pearson, U. Bikhumar, S. Shnaider, A. Abdykanova, B. Bittner, M. Zahir, N. Jarman, M. Williams, D. Pettigrew, M. Petraglia, C. Lee, E. Dixon, and N. Boivin. 2021. High altitude hunting, climate change, and pastoral resilience in eastern Eurasia. Scientific Reports 11:14287.
Moose habitat selection
Blouin, J., J. DeBow, E. Rosenblatt, J. Hines, C. Alexander, K. Gieder, N. Fortin, J. Murdoch, and T. Donovan. 2021. Moose habitat selection and fitness consequences during two critical winter tick life stages in Vermont, United States. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 9:642276.
Marmots as ecosystem engineers
Kit fox occupancy in an epizootic
Deatherage, N., B. Cypher, J. Murdoch, T. Westall, E. Kelly, and D. Germano. 2021. Urban landscape attributes affect occupancy patterns of the San Joaquin kit fox during an epizootic. Pacific Conservation Biology, https://doi.org/10.1071/PC20059.
Wildlife resistance to change
Wildlife and landscape change
Pearman-Gillman, S., M. Duveneck, J. Murdoch, and T. Donovan. 2020. Drivers and consequences of alternative landscape futures on wildlife distributions in New England, United States. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 8:164 doi: 10.3389/fevo.2020.00164.
Wildlife distribution patterns
Pearman-Gillman, S., J. Katz, R. Mickey, J. Murdoch, and T. Donovan. 2020. Predicting wildlife distribution patterns in New England USA based on expert elicitation techniques. Global Ecology and Conservation 21:e00853.
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.
Marten population genetics
Aylward, C., J. Murdoch, and C. W. Kilpatrick. 2019.
Genetic legacies of translocation and relictual populations of American marten at the southeastern margin of their distribution. Conservation Genetics 20:275-286.
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.
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
Koryna's research focuses on coyotes in Cape Cod National Seashore, and will lead to estimates of density and occupancy across the park. The project is funded by National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring Program and in partnership with the Cape Cod National Seashore.
Maggie's project focuses on rabies vaccination strategies in Vermont in partnership with the USDA APHIS Wildlife Services National Rabies Management Program, National Wildlife Research Center, and Vermont Wildlife Services operational program.
USDA Forest Service - Green Mountains
Instructional videos on common subjects in wildlife biology & conservation
an online course
This course covers major topics in conservation biology and develops models of each topic using simple and straightforward spreadsheets. The course 18 modules, each with a series of with lectures and spreadsheet videos. It was developed with Dr. Terri Donovan of the Vermont Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit and U.S. Bureau of Land Management National Training Center. Topics include:
All videos are available on VCFWRU website. Click on the image to the right to link to the videos and companion spreadsheets.
Occupancy modeling 1
building a single season occupancy model
Occupancy modeling has become a common approach to describing a species' distribution. However, the actual modeling approach is often a source of confusion, so in this video, I provide a comprehensive overview of how an occupancy model is built. I use a simple spreadsheet and some real data and my aim here is provide a clear, easy-to-follow guide to understanding occupancy modeling. Topics covered include:
Coming soon . . .
Occupancy modeling 2
building a multiple season occupancy model
This video introduces the multi-season occupancy model. This model is built from data in two time periods, such as seasons or years. It's similar to the single season model, but incorporates two new parameters. These parameters describe the probability of a species going extinct or colonizing a given site in a landscape, which allow researchers to explore how these processes (extinction and colonization) are affected by aspects of a landscape. Again, I use a spreadsheet to clearly walk you though how this model is built.
Coming soon . . .
estimating population density
Distance sampling is a common technique used to estimate a species density in a landscape. The advantage of this technique is that it estimates density by accounting for a researchers ability to detect a species. Distance sampling modeling can be challenging to understand. In this video, I provide an overview of the distance sampling modeling approach and how it is used to estimate density.
Coming soon . . .