CFAES is advancing our understanding of wildlife, wildlife habitat, management, and conservation for generations to come.

Human-wildlife relationships reflect the interactions between natural and social systems. As natural and cultural environments change, so do the challenges. Biodiversity loss, invasive species, changing climate, unsustainable hunting levels, human-wildlife conflicts, and diminishing public support for wildlife programs are among the most pressing issues facing wildlife conservation. Fulfilling the land grant mission of The Ohio State University, the CFAES School of Environment and Natural Resources provides science-based research and training for current and future wildlife professionals.

Here are just a few examples of our wildlife research.

Blue Jay

The role of a mutualism in reestablishing the American Chestnut Tree in Ohio

James Wright, who recently completed his doctoral studies at the School of Environment and Natural Resources, published a paper examining the role of plant-animal mutualism in the reintroduction of chestnut and regeneration in oak forests.

"Certain interactions between plants and animals, such as bees pollinating flowers or birds caching acorns, play an outsized role in shaping ecosystems, especially when plants rely on specific animals for pollination or seed dispersal."  – James Wright

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The perilous migratory journey of the eastern whip-poor-will

Using GPS tags attached to the birds, researchers discovered some surprising facts about the long migrations that eastern whip-poor-wills make from their Midwest breeding grounds to where they winter in Mexico and Central America.

The results showed that birds from across the Midwest all traveled a similar migratory path and moved at nearly the same time in the fall, concentrating the population in a small area of parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas and east Texas on a single day in early October.

That highlights a critical danger to the whip-poor-will population, which has already declined by nearly 70% in recent decades.

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Monitoring Migration

How do songbirds migrate through Ohio? And how can understanding this movement help us better protect their habitat? School of Environment and Natural Resources master's student Zoe Korpi tracks white-throated sparrows as they migrate toward Lake Erie.


How do salamanders face challenges from wildfires?

Slimy but mighty, salamanders are an important part of forest ecosystems. Critical players in the food chain, they recycle nutrients and keep soil healthy. With predictions that forest wildfires may happen more frequently in the future, researchers wanted to know how salamanders are responding to these hazards. Amphibians like salamanders are especially vulnerable to wildfires as they don’t have lungs like people or gills like fish. Instead, they breathe through their skin and need a healthy tree canopy and cool, moist conditions for survival. 

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