KCRL PhD students participate in first successful translocation of narrow-headed garter snakes

A fantastic collaborative conservation effort among AZGFD, Phoenix Zoo, USFWS, NAU, and the University of Arizona is underway!

On August 17th, the first translocation of captive bred narrow-headed gartersnakes was performed by a collaborative team of conservation experts, including KCRL PhD students Brian Blais and Stuart Wells (Stuart is also the Director of Conservation and Science at the Phoenix Zoo). This occasion marks the first time that the species has been released in the wild from a captive breeding program, and is a big step toward the recovery of the species. Brian will be monitoring these snakes post release (using radio telemetry) to understand space use, habitat needs, diet, survival and more – all of which we know very little.

Way to go team!


Garter snake release team. Photo by George Andrejko/AZGFD


Narrow-headed garter snake. Photo by Amy Burnett/AZGFD

KCRL welcomes 6 new graduate students!

KCRL is very pleased to announce 6 new graduate students joining us this fall to begin conservation research projects on species as diverse as garter snakes, Andean bears, tiger salamanders, ground squirrels, and tree squirrels!

Please give a warm welcome to the newest members of Team KowPow!

Brian Blais: captive bred narrow-headed garter snake translocation

Colin Brocka: Sonoran tiger salamander dispersal

Allie Burnett: Harris’s antelope ground squirrel ecology

Kira Hefty: Big Cypress fox squirrel occupancy

Mauro Vela-Vargas: Andean bears in Columbia

Stuart Wells: Mt. Graham red squirrel captive breeding and release

We will be posting more details about their projects here and on our webpage in weeks to come, stay tuned!


KCRL represents at The American Society of Mammalogists Meeting

The Koprowski Conservation Research Laboratory have just returned from the 96th Annual Meeting of The American Society of Mammalogists in Minneapolis, Minnesota (#ASMGopher).  This meeting was notable, both for the number of student attendees and in the quality of presentations.  As we reflect on our experiences, it is clear that this was yet another productive and inspiring meeting for team KowPow, and we look forward to next year!

Workshops – KCRL alum Dr. Karen Munroe and PhD student Melissa Merrick hosted a workshop on how to be a good peer reviewer, with over 100 enrollees! Panelists Doug Kelt, Brad Swanson, and Bob Rose discussed what Editors and Authors need from peer reviewers, and answered many questions.


Melissa addressing workshop attendees, introducing panelists

Talks and posters – KCRL students Melissa Merrick, Max Mazzella, Amanda Veals, and Post-doctoral Researcher Emily Goldstein gave talks on rhino, flying squirrel, and fox space use and comparative red squirrel demography, and Kendell Bennett presented a poster on Abert’s squirrel genetics  during contributed paper and poster sessions.


Amanda Veals presenting her research, making the connection between rabies and understanding space use in foxes

Making and maintaining friendships and connections  – each ASM meeting is a great chance to make many new, lasting connections as well as reconnecting with colleagues from near and far.  We are already looking forward to the 2017 meetings: 97th Annual Meeting at the University of Idaho, and the International Mammalogical Congress in Perth, Western Australia!


KCRL & friends (L-R: alum Dr. Karen Munroe, PostDoc Dr. Emily Goldstein, Commander Dr. John Koprowski, PhD student Kendell Bennett, PhD candidate Melissa Merrick, and honorary members Dr. Adam Ferguson of Karatina University, Kenya, and Dr. Molly McDonough of the Smithsonian Institution #ASMFamily


New publication: Roads are barriers to small mammal movements

KCRL alum Dr. Hsiang Ling Chen’s recent publication in Biological Conservation demonstrates that even low traffic, narrow roads can act as barriers to small mammal movements due to gap avoidance behavior.  Dr. Chen’s research has important implications for the conservation and management of forest dependent small mammal species faced with fragmentation and disturbance.

Check it out:

Chen, H. L. and J. L. Koprowski. 2016. Barrier effects of roads on an endangered forest obligate: influences of traffic, road edges, and gaps. Biological Conservation 199:33-40.



Congrats to KCRL’s Maria Altemus MSc

KCRL celebrates Maria Altemus and her successful defense of her Master’s thesis titled Antelope jackrabbit (Lepus alleni) spatial ecology, habitat characteristics, and overlap with the endangered Pima pineapple cactus (Coryphantha scheeri var. robustispina).  

Maria is the first to record movement data of antelope jackrabbits via radio-telemetry and her research fills a significant knowledge gap in the life history and ecology of this charismatic but little-studied lagomorph.  Join us in congratulating Maria for a job well done!


Antelope Jackrabbit (Lepus alleni)

Antelope Jackrabbit (Lepus alleni)



Dr. K talks squirrel repellants, squirrel abundance to close Squirrel Week 2016

Can you ever really get rid of squirrels?  Where have all my squirrels gone? Dr. K is the go to guy for answers to your squirrel questions! In his second Squirrel Week interview with the Washington Post, Dr. K talks about whether you can ever really deter squirrels, and what factors influence squirrel density and abundance. Read the full story here: