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Tracy Rittenhouse

Center Director and Associate Professor

My students and I are wildlife ecologists.  We study where animals live, movements animals make when traveling through habitats, and why wildlife populations persist in some locations but not others.  Our goal is to ask good research questions within globally relevant conservation contexts, yet we focus on the uniqueness of local places and serve the research needs of managers who make decision about wildlife populations. 

DeerExurban Wildlife in Intermixed Ecosystems
We quantify and experimentally manipulate habitats to learn about wildlife populations.  When flying over Connecticut in a plane, the state is continuous forest.  Yet when driving through Connecticut, the state is human housing.  We live in a forest ecosystem and urban neighborhoods at the same time.  These two ecosystems are intermixed.  We generally find that the behaviors and demographics of wildlife living in exurban development (6 to 100 houses per km2) differs from wildlife that live in either rural places or urban places.  This research is often completed in collaboration with wildlife biologists.  DEEP Wildlife Division has funded several projects.

Disease Epidemics - Ranavirus
We want to prevent and contain disease epidemics in wildlife populations.  Ranavirus is a pathogen that causes epidemics in amphibians where nearly all individuals die within a few days.  We are studying the progression of ranavirus epidemics within wood frog populations in natural wetlands and within experimental mesocoms.  We currently working on a NSF funded project in collarboration with Dr. Jesse Brunner and Dr. Erica Crespi

I am seeking excellent undergraduates for NSF REU positions in Summer 2019 and Summer 2020.

Managing Wildlife Populations
The goal is robust wildlife populations supported by effective management strategies and actions.  For much of human history people and human developments displaced wildlife populations. Today, game management prevents extinctions of wild game in the U.S. and many species (e.g., wolves, bobcat, and black bears) are increasing in abundance. Yet, the list of species of greatest conservation need is large and many populations are declining within remaining natural areas. My research is motivated by this core question: why do some wildlife populations increase while others are extirpated or reduced to low abundance levels in forests and in human-dominated landscapes? 

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Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation Center
Department of Natural Resources and the Environment
University of Connecticut
1376 Storrs Road, Unit 4087