Research Biologist and Extension Wildlife Specialist
Dept. of Forestry and Natural Resources
715 W. State St.
West Lafayette, IN 47907
My work focuses on two separate facets of eastern hellbender conservation: 1) species repatriation and 2) outreach and education. In Indiana, the eastern hellbender population has been reduced to only the Blue River. However, several Ohio River tributaries seem to possess suitable hellbender habitat. I am evaluating the environmental conditions in these tributaries to determine if the habitat, water quality, and food base would be suitable for hellbender repatriation. Expanding hellbender populations to additional suitable habitat will ensure Indiana’s hellbenders are protected from stochastic events and will help restore these river systems to a more functional state.
The second aspect of my work is focused working with landowners to improve water quality. One of the main drivers of hellbender decline (as well as that of many fish and mussels) has been poor water quality and sedimentation. I am developing presentations and programs to help encourage landowners in southern Indiana to adopt practices that will reduce water pollution. If successful, these programs should ultimately help to improve our aquatic resources, including habitat for the hellbender.