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Tom A. Langen
Associate Professor
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).

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 328 Conservation Biology
BY 435/BY 525 Biological Systems & Global Environmental Change

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. In 2009-2008, I am a visiting professor in the International Institute in Wildlife Conservation & Management (ICOMVIS), National University of Costa Rica. 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. A second component of the project involves surveying for amphibian and reptiles species that are poorly known in New York, with a goal of evaluating their conservation status and developing a conservation plan.

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.

Environmental Impacts of Deicing Road Salt. Deicing road salt and sand applied to roads in winter are causing significant environmental damage in cold climate regions of North America and elsewhere. This project's goals are to evaluate the impact of deicing road salt use on the Cascade Lakes region of New York's Adirondack State Park, and to make recommendations to reduce any environmental degradation caused by winter road management.

Waterbirds as Indicators of Environmental Health in the Laurentian Great Lakes. Waterbirds, including coastal and pelagic species, can provide good indicators of environmental productivity and environmental stress. This project focuses on mapping the spatial dispersion of waterbirds in relation to productivity gradients, distance from land, and known anthropogenic stressors. It also includes collaborative research on the environmental quality of wetlands and rivers in the St. Lawrence Valley / Adirondack Mountain region.

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)

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.

Langen T.A., A. Machniak, E. Crowe, C. Mangan, D. Marker, N. Liddle, and B. Roden, “Methodologies for surveying herpetofauna mortality on rural highways,”Journal of Wildlife Management 71: 1361-1368, 2007.

Gouvêa S.P., C. Melendez, M.J. Carberry, G.S. Bullerjahn, S.W. Wilhelm, T.A. Langen, and M.R. Twiss, “Assessment of phosphorus-microbe interactions in Lake Ontario by multiple techniques,” Journal of Great Lakes Research 32: 455-470, 2006.

Langen T.A., and S. Grimberg, “Balanced activities increase student satisfaction in a mentored summer research program. American Society for Engineering Education,” Proceedings of the 2006 Annual Conference and Exposition 2006-846, 2006.

Steen D.A., M.J. Aresco, S.G. Beilke, B.W. Compton, C.K. Dodd Jr., H. Forrester, J.W. Gibbons, J. Greene-McLeod, G. Johnson, T.A. Langen, M.J. Oldham, D.N. Oxier, R.A. Saumure, F.W. Schueler, J. Sleeman, L.L. Smith, J.K. Tucker, and  J.P. Gibbs, “Relative vulnerability of female turtles to road mortality,” Animal Conservation 9: 269-273, 2006.

Twiss M.R., T.A. Langen, M.G. Giroux, S.M. Johns, N.E. Liddle, A.R. Snyder, D.P. Zeleznock, and J. Wojcik “Land use influence on water quality in the Saint Regis River, a north-flowing tributary of the St. Lawrence,” Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies 13: 26-32, 2006.

Langen, T.A. and R. Welsh, "Does a problem-based learning approach to teaching conservation science and policy improve content knowledge and change attitudes?" Conservation Biology 20:600-608, 2006.

Langen T.A., M.R. Twiss, G.S. Bullerjahn, and S.W. Wilhelm, "Pelagic bird survey on Lake Ontario following Hurricane Isabel, September 2003: Observations and remarks on methodology," Journal of Great Lakes Research, 31: 219-226, 2005.

Twiss, M.R., T.A. Langen, G.S. Bullerjahn, S.W. Wilhelm, and D.C. Rockwell, "The Lake Ontario Great Lakes Science Practicum: A model for training limnology students on how to conduct shipboard research in the Great Lakes," Journal of Great Lakes Research, 31: 236-242, 2005.

Mentored Student Research (Last three years)


  • 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.


  • Robin Andrusyzyn (Environmental Engineering) Analyzing wetland landscape ecology using GIS.
  • Cody Merrill (Biology) Analyzing wetland landscape ecology using GIS, Assessing restored wetland success as compared to natural sites as indicated by turtle trapping success.
  • Grace Sprehn (Clarkson School) Predicting hotspots of Blanding's turtle mortality on New York State highways using GIS.
  • Jason Hajek (Biology) Predicting hotspots of Blanding's turtle mortality on New York State highways using GIS, Assessing restored wetland success as compared to natural sites as indicated by turtle trapping success.
  • Maria Hargis (North Carolina A&T, Environmental Science and Engineering REU Program) Comparison of restored and natural wetlands using biodiversity indicators of fish and larval amphibians.
  • Nathan Moore (Environmental Science & Policy, Honors Program) A survey & management plan for vernal pools on the campus of Clarkson University.
  • Austin Hicks (Environmental Science & Policy) Survey of golden-winged warbler abundance and distribution across transmission line corridors and throughout northeastern New York State.


  • Lindsay Schwarting (Biology, Honors Program) Validation of a hotspot model of herpetofauna road mortality along Northern New York roads. 
  • Christopher Scheiner (Biology) Predictors of turtle road mortality along St. Lawrence County highways.
  • Daniel Berry (Environmental Science & Policy) Eurasian buckthorn invasion success in Clarkson forest.
  • Catherine Benson (Environmental Science & Policy) Effectiveness of two road barrier designs at preventing herpetofauna from approaching a highway.
  • Jesse Boulerice (Biology) Connectivity and spatial patterns  of restored wetlands in the St. Lawrence Valley of New York.
  • Madeline Turnquist  (University of Wisconsin, Madison) Demographic impact of road mortality on turtle populations.