Using Landscape Genetics to Evaluate the Impact of Forest Fragmentation on Pit Vipers

Globally, habitat loss and fragmentation are the primary threat to most species. Central Appalachia contains high biodiversity, but has been heavily impacted by surface mining for coal and development, leading to a highly fragmented landscape mosaic comprised of forest fragments, active and reclaimed surface coal mines, and human settlement, all of which is dissected by an extensive road network. Many animal species have trouble navigating such fragmented landscapes, and over time populations can become isolated and decline in number, potentially leading to conditions such as inbreeding and declines in genetic diversity and long-term survival. Our research led by doctoral biology student Tom Maigret (w/ Dr. Jim Krupa) uses the northern copperhead as a model to investigate how forest fragmentation caused by said human activities impacts reptile population genetics.

John J. Cox, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Wildlife and Conservation Biology
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