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Tom A. Langen
Department of Biology
163 Science Center
Clarkson University
Potsdam, NY 13699-5805

Web site:
Phone: 315-268-7933
Fax: 315-268-7118

B.S., Purdue University – Biology (1984)
Ph.D., University of California, San Diego - Biology (1994).


Network of Conservation Educators & Practitioners (NCEP) Professor of the Month  (October 2011)
Ecological Society of America Education Scholar Award (2011)
Clarkson University Outstanding Advisor Award (2011)
Fulbright Scholar, Costa Rica (2007)
Presidential Award, Society of American Naturalists for the best paper of the previous year in the journal American Naturalist, as judged by the Society’s President (2005)
Clarkson University Student Association Outstanding Teacher Award (2003)

Courses taught

BY 340/PY 340 Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology
BY 358/PY 358 Animal Learning & Cognition
BY 222 General Ecology
BY 224 General Ecology Lab
BY 240 Ecology of American Rivers
BY 328/528 Conservation Biology
BY 435/BY 525 Biological Systems & Global Environmental Change
BY 610 Ecological Statistics & Experimental Design

Research Interests

My general research areas include (1) behavioral ecology - the adaptive function of animal behavior, (2) cognitive ecology - how animals learn about their environment and use the information to make adaptive decisions and (3) conservation science - how ecology can be applied to conserving species and ecosystems, and improving environmental health. Presently, I am involved in the following research projects.

Impact of Roads on Costa Rica National Parks.  I collaborate with the International Institute in Wildlife Conservation & Management (ICOMVIS), National University of Costa Rica on research related to roads in Latin America. I am using geographic information systems and remote sensing data to evaluate the fingerprint of public roads that bisect national parks in Costa Rica. I am also conducting field work in the Guanacaste Conservation Area on the impact of the Pan-American Highway on movements of wildlife.

Value of Restored Wetlands for Species of Greatest Conservation Need. The USDA National Resources Conservation Service, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, and Ducks Unlimited have partnered with over 100 private landowners in northeastern New York to restore and conserve wetlands. My research evaluates whether these projects are worthwhile from the aspect of conserving threatened species, and also evaluates why landowners chose to participate in the programs.

Impact of Road Mortality on Turtles and other Herpetofauna. There is increasing concern among conservation biologists about the long-term impact of roads on reptiles and amphibian populations. My research is focused on how to predict and mitigate hotspots of road mortality on turtles and other reptiles and amphibians. This research includes use of field surveys and GIS to locate hotspots of road-kill, and the design and testing of barriers to road crossing.

Sociobiology and Cognition in the New World Jays. The New World Jays are model group for understanding the evolution and ecology of reproductive cooperation and sociality. Experiments with jays are also revealing new insights into learning and memory in vertebrates. My work has primarily focused on two species: the white-throated magpie-jay and the western scrub-jay.

Publications (last five years)

Halamkova, L., J. Schulte, T.A. Langen. Rensch’s rule is only valid for one family of turtles. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society in press

Langen T.A., K. Gunson, C. Scheiner, J. Boulerice. Road mortality in freshwater turtles: identifying causes of spatial patterns to optimize road planning and mitigation. Biodiversity and Conservation in press.

Langen T.A. 26 April 2012, posting date. Drivers of avian local species richness: continental-scale gradients, regional landscape, or local land cover? Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology, Vol. 8: Experiment #2 [online].

Steen, D.A., J.P. Gibbs, K.A. Buhlmann, J.C. Carr, B.W. Compton, J. Congdon, S. Doody, J.C. Godwin, K.L. Holcomb, D. Jackson, F. Janzen, G. Johnson, M. Jones, G. Lamer, T.A. Langen, M. Plummer, J. Rowe, R.A. Saumure, J.K. Tucker, D.S. Wilson. 2012. Distances from wetlands to freshwater turtle nests with guidelines for core terrestrial habitat conservation. Biological Conservation 150:121–128.

Langen, T.A.. 2011. Design considerations and effectiveness of fencing for turtles: three case studies along northeastern New York state highways. Proceedings of the 2011 International Conference on Ecology and Transportation. In press.

Langen, T.A.. Predictive models of herpetofauna road mortality hotspots in extensive road networks: three approaches and a general procedure for creating hotspot models that are useful for environmental managers.  Proceedings of the 2009 International Conference on Ecology and Transportation, 2009.

Berg, E.C., J.M. Eadie, T.A. Langen, and A.F. Russell. 2009. Reverse sex-biased philopatry in a cooperative bird: genetic consequences and a social cause. Molecular Ecology 18:3486-3499.

Ellis, J.M.S., T.A. Langen, and E.C. Berg. Signaling for food and sex? Begging by reproductive female  white-throated magpie-jays. Animal Behavior 78: 615-623, 2009.

Langen, T.A.
, K. Ogden, and L. Schwarting. Predicting hotspots of herpetofauna road mortality along highway networks. Journal of Wildlife Management 73: 104-114, 2009.

Grimberg, S.J., T.A. Langen, S.E. Powers, L.D. Compeau, “A theme-based seminar on environmental sustainability improves participant satisfaction in an undergraduate summer research program,” Journal of Engineering Education 97:95-103, 2008.

Mentored Student Research (Last three years)


  • Jane Casey (Biology) Sexual size dimorphism in seabirds, Mating skew in cooperatively breeding birds.
  • Hillary  Clifton (Environmental Science & Policy) Impacts of rock climbing on cliff plants.
  • Vinita Eswar (Environmental Science & Policy) Impact of tourism on elephant movements in Queen Elizabeth NP, Uganda.
  • Jon Podoliak (Biology) Evaluation of the wetlands in the Massena AOC using birds as indicators.
  • Kate Gilpin (Wesleyan University, Environmental Science and Engineering REU Program) Evaluation of the wetlands in the Massena AOC using macroinverterbates as indicators.
  • Evan Tomakiewicz (Biology, UBM Program), Jennifer Burl (Mathematics, UBM Program), Shelby Casas (Biomolecular Science, Hobors Program) Intercolony aggression and colony dispersion in Pheidole ants.
  • Victor Epiter-Smith (Biology, UBM Program) Patterns of physiological stress on oaks.


  • Laura  Barlow (Environmental Science & Policy) Comparison of bird diversity at natural and restored wetlands.
  • Jeremy Ozolins (Biology) Comparison of amphibian and reptile diversity at natural and restored wetlands.
  • Cory Symonds (Biomolecular Science) Assessment of wildllife barriers for turtles.
  • Jane Casey (Biology) Sexual size dimorphism in seabirds, Mating skew in cooperatively breeding birds.
  • Nychele Carley (University of Great Falls Montana, Environmental Science and Engineering REU Program) Comparison of restored and natural wetlands using biodiversity indicators of fish and larval amphibians.


  • Travis Walrath (Biology), Francis More (Biology), Bridget Murray (Biology) Diet choice under risk by black-capped chickadees.
  • Robyn Ruggaber (Biology) Assessment of a snow dump as a source of salt contamination on the Raquette River.
  • Eric Marcy (Environmental Science & Policy, Honors Program) Comparison of amphibian and reptile diversity at natural and restored wetlands.