• James D. Murdoch

    Professor | Wildlife Biology

    University of Vermont

  • Welcome and thanks for visiting!

    James (Jed) D. Murdoch | University of Vermont

    James (Jed) Murdoch


    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.


    Mountain peak in Catalonia, Spain (c) J. Murdoch


    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.


    Fox tracks in Mongolia (c) J. Murdoch


    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.

    Farm in Vermont, USA (c) J. Murdoch


    Supporting Conservation

    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.

  • News

    Recent updates

    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.

  • Research projects

    A snapshot of current projects

    Coyote ecology in

    Cape Cod National


    Massachusetts, USA

    Rabies vaccination

    strategies for wildlife

    Vermont USA

    Moose survival,


    habitat use,


    and genetics

    Vermont and Northeastern USA

    Integrating genetic

    and ecological data to

    map wildlife connectivity

    Northeastern USA

    Wildlife and road

    crossing structures

    Vermont USA

    American marten

    genetics and


    Northeastern USA


    Effects of landscape

    change on




    cashmere production

    for wildlife and people


  • Publications

    A selection of recent articles | Google Scholar profile

    Conservation Biology, (c) OUP

    Conservation Biology, 1st edition


    Cardinale, B., R. Primack, and J. Murdoch. Conservation Biology, 1st edition, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

    Panthera uncia, (c) Denver Zoo / INNR

    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.

    Alces alces, (c) J. Blouin

    Moose survival

    Vermont USA

    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.

    Alces alces, (c) J. Blouin

    Moose stress and nutrition

    Vermont USA

    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.

    Mongolian ger, (c) J. Murdoch

    Hunting, climate, and pastoralism

    northern asia

    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.

    Alces alces, (c) J. Blouin

    Moose habitat selection

    Vermont usa

    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.

    Marmota sibirica, (c) S. Buyandelger

    Marmots as ecosystem engineers


    Buyandelger, S., B. Otgonbayar, B. Bayartogtokh, and J. Murdoch. 2021. Ecosystem engineering by endangered Mongolian marmots supports darkling beetles. Mammalian Biology.

    Vulpes macrotis mutica, (c) C. Wingert

    Kit fox occupancy in an epizootic

    California usa

    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.

    View from Brousseau Mountain, Vermont, (c) J. Murdoch

    Wildlife resistance to change

    northeastern usa

    Pearman-Gillman, S., M. Duveneck, J. Murdoch, and T. Donovan. 2020. Wildlife resistance and protection in a changing New England landscape. PLoS ONE 15(9): e0239525.

    Vulpes vulpes, (c) S. Williams/J. Murdoch

    Wildlife and landscape change

    northeastern usa

    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.

    Lynx rufus, (c) S. Williams/J. Murdoch

    Wildlife distribution patterns

    northeastern usa

    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.

    Martes americana, (c) USDA

    Marten gene flow

    northeastern usa

    Aylward, C., J. Murdoch, C. W. Kilpatrick. 2020. Multiscale landscape genetics of American marten at their southern range periphery. Heredity 124:550-561.

    Lynx rufus, (c) A. Krahl

    Wildlife & landscape development

    Vermont usa

    Martes americana (c) VFWD

    Marten population genetics

    Northeastern usa

    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.

    Lynx rufus (c) J. Murdoch

    Bobcat habitat selection

    Vermont USA

    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.

    Martes americana (c) D. Hall, VFWD

    Marten distribution & connectivity

    Northeastern usa

    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.

    Alces alces, (c) J. Blouin

    Moose genetic tool

    North america

    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

    Ovis ammon, (c) R. Reading

    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.

    Crocuta crocuta, (c) J. Murdoch

    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.

    Vulpes vulpes, (c) J. Murdoch

    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.

    Herder ger camp, (c) J. Murdoch

    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.

    Ikh Nart, (c) J. Murdoch

    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.

    Vulpes corsac, (c) X. Eichaker

    Corsac foxes and habitat loss


    Lkhagvasuren, M., J. Murdoch, T. Munkhzul, and A. Strong. 2016. Predicting the effects of habitat loss on corsac fox occupancy in Mongolia. Journal of Mammalogy 97:1153-1163.

    Mesechinus dauuricus, (c) R. Reading

    Hedgehog radio-telemetry


    Reading, R., D. Kenny, J. Murdoch, and S. Batdorj. 2016. Use of dental restorative temporization material for attaching radiotransmitters to hedgehogs. Wildlife Society Bulletin 40:355-358.

    Vulpes vulpes, (c) R. Reading

    Red fox distribution


    Murdoch, J., H. Davie, M. Galbadrah, and R. P. Reading. 2016. Factors influencing red fox occupancy probability in central Mongolia. Mammalian Biology 81:82-88.

    Vulpes vulpes, (c) S. Williams/J. Murdoch

    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.

  • Graduate students

    Current students and their projects

    Koryna Boudinot

    Koryna Boudinot

    M.S. program

    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.

    Caitlin Drasher

    Caitlin Drasher

    Ph.D. program

    Caitlin's research focuses on estimating landscape connectivity for wildlife using genetic and ecological information. The project is supported by the Northeastern States Research Cooperative and is in partnership with the US Forest Service (GMNF), VFWD, NFGD, and MDIFW.

    Maggie Batton

    Maggie Batton

    M.S. program

    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.

    Ali Aghili

    Ali Aghili

    Ph.D. program

    Ali is currently developing a project that will explore Persian leopard distribution, connectivity, and conservation in Eurasia and Central Asia. Ali's previous work focused on the conservation of Persian leopard in Iran, and community conservation in Kenya.

  • Collaborators

    Research partners

    Martes pennanti, (c) S. Williams/J. Murdoch

    Vermont Fish

    and Wildlife Department


    A main partner for research in Vermont and northeastern US is the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department of the VT Agency of Natural Resources.

    Groton State Forest, (c) J. Murdoch

    Vermont Agency of Transportation


    A main partner for research on roads, wildlife, and landscape connectivity in Vermont is research department of VTRANS.

    Lynx rufus, (c) R. Irwin / TNC

    The Nature Conservancy of Vermont


    A main partner for research on roads, wildlife, and landscape connectivity in Vermont is the The Nature Conservancy of Vermont.

    Vermont forest, (c) J. Murdoch

    USDA Forest Service - Green Mountains


    A main partner for an NSRC research grant for modeling and mapping wildlife connectivity is the US Forest Service - Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests.

    Northern Forest woodland, (c) J. Murdoch

    USDA APHIS Wildlife Services


    Partners in rabies management research include the National Rabies Management Program, National Wildlife Research Center, and the Vermont Wildlife Services operational program.

    Mongolia landscape, (c) D. Jackson

    Mongolian Academy of Sciences


    A main partner for research in Asia is the Mongolian Academy of Sciences Institute of General and Experimental Biology, Mammalian Ecology Laboratory.

    Ger in Ikh Nart Nature Reserve, (c) J. Murdoch


    Zoological Foundation

    USA & Mongolia

    A main partner for research in Ikh Nart Nature Reserve, Mongolia is the Field Conservation Department at the Denver Zoological Foundation in the US.

    South Luangwa landscape, (c) J. Murdoch


    Carnivore Programme


    A main partner for research in Africa is the Zambian Carnivore Programme that works country-wide on carnivore conservation issues.

    Eagle owl, (c) X. Eichaker

    US National Park Service Inventory & Monitoring


    The NPS Inventory and Monitoring Program is the funder and main collaborator on the coyote project in Cape Cod.

  • Contact

    +1 (802) 656-2912 | jmurdoch@uvm.edu