Conservation ecology and resource management, including forest amphibians and sea turtles




Conservation of biodiversity is as essential as it is difficult in the current global setting, where billions of people are vying for increasingly limited resources. A simplistic preservationist approach is no longer successful. Rather, human patterns of resource use and behavior and ethics all need to be considered to ensure long-term sustainability of our natural resources


After observing continued declines in species, continued ecosystem degradation, and ever-increasing pressures on our global resources, I was motivated to search for a new conservation paradigm that acknowledges human use patterns along with the underlying ecological processes.


Using forest amphibians as a focal point of our studies, we have developed techniques for increasing coarse woody debris in forested ecosystems. The incorporation of these techniques in many regional woodlots has created enhanced conditions for forest floor organisms, has contributed to increased local biodiversity, and is creating positive conditions to ensure hardwood regeneration by minimizing the pressures of deer browsing. In addition, we have convinced several landowners to create small woodland pools on their properties, and have instigated other forest ecosystem enhancements in private and public forestlands in New York and Pennsylvania.

In coastal waters, the knowledge of predictable seasonal movements of sea turtles clustering along spatial and temporal corridors has led to a new understanding of potentially overlapping and conflicting human activities. More importantly, the knowledge of timing of activity and distribution of sea turtles enables us to further refine our management and protection schemes on state, federal, and international levels. Our research and modeling in open ocean waters has also triggered a new institutional awareness of the potential for separating a large commercial fishing industry from its undesired overlap with sea turtles. NOAA fisheries, the U.S. agency responsible for regulating commercial fishing, is collaborating with us in the development of a new predictive model that can be updated daily, and can be used as a warning system for potential problem areas for unwanted bycatch in open waters.

Our new research in collaboration with conservation officials and researchers in Costa Rica has motivated the National Park system to expand its research and monitoring activities into landscapes surrounding one of the marine national parks. Currently, monitoring and protection activities are continuing in a recently discovered important nesting ground for the critically endangered East Pacific Green Turtle.


Some of our findings and activities have contributed directly to changes in conservation and management strategies by private, local landowners, conservation organizations, and management agencies.

Submitted by: 

  • Morreale, Stephen J

Researchers involved: 

  • Morreale, Stephen J

Organizations involved: 

  • Drexel University
  • Costa Rica National Parks

International focus: 

  • United States of America
  • Bhutan
  • Chile
  • Costa Rica
  • Ecuador
  • Panama
  • Peru

United States focus: 

  • New York