J. D. Willson

J. D. Willson

Assoc Professor

J. William Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences

(BISC)-Biological Sciences

Phone: 479-575-2647

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Research in my lab focuses on understanding factors that drive population and community dynamics of reptiles and amphibians including inter- and intra-specific interactions, environmental variation, and anthropogenic impacts such as habitat alteration, pollution, and invasive species. Our work uses a combination of observational, experimental, and theoretical approaches to integrate responses from the level of the individual organism to the landscape. Although much of our work is applied, we are also shedding light many basic questions in ecology. We are especially interested in understanding how unique aspects of reptile and amphibian population biology that differentiate them from other vertebrates. Current projects under investigation in the Willson Lab include:

  1. Evaluating population-level effects of anthropogenic stressors (pollution, habitat alteration, climate change) on pond-breeding and stream-dwelling amphibians.
  2. Understanding the ecology, impacts, and management of Burmese pythons and other invasive snakes.
  3. Assessing the relative importance of abiotic (environmental stochasticity) and biotic (predator-prey interactions, intra-and interspecific competition) drivers of amphibian and aquatic snake population and community dynamics within isolated wetland ecosystems.

Population, Community, and Landscape Ecology; Conservation Biology; Invasive Species Ecology; Herpetology

General Ecology, Population Ecology, Herpetology

Ph.D.  University of Georgia, 2009

Willson, J.D. 2016. Indirect Effects of Invasive Burmese Pythons in Southern Florida. Journal of Applied Ecology. In press.

Willson, J.D. and C.T. Winne. 2016. The predatory role of aquatic snakes in isolated wetlands: A case study in evaluating functional roles of secretive species. Journal of Zoology, London.

Willson, J. D., and W.A. Hopkins. 2013. Evaluating the Effects of Anthropogenic Stressors on Source-sink Dynamics in Pond-breeding Amphibians. Conservation Biology 27:595-604.

Hopkins, B.C., W.A. Hopkins, D.K. Jones, and J.D. Willson. 2013. Mercury exposure is associated with negative effects on turtle reproduction. Environmental Science and Technology 47:2416-2422.

Chin, S.Y., Willson, J. D., D. A. Cristol, D.V.V. Drewett, and W.A. Hopkins. 2013. High levels of maternally transferred mercury do not affect reproductive output or embryonic survival of northern watersnakes (Nerodia sipedon). Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry 32:619-626.

Drewett, D.V.V., Willson, J. D., D. A. Cristol, S.Y. Chin, and W.A. Hopkins. 2013. Inter- and intra-specific variation in mercury bioaccumulation by snakes inhabiting a contaminated river floodplain. Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry 32:1178-1186.

Willson, J. D., W. A. Hopkins, C. M. Bergeron, and B. D. Todd. 2012. Making leaps in amphibian ecotoxicology: Translating individual-level effects of environmental contaminants to population viability. Ecological Applications 22:1791-1802.

Dorcas, M.E., J.D. Willson, R.N. Reed, R.W. Snow, M.R. Rochford, M.A. Miller, W.E. Meshaka, Jr., P.T. Andreadis, F.J. Mazzotti, C.M. Romagosa, and K.M. Hart. 2012. Severe mammal declines coincide with python proliferation in Everglades National Park. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109:2418-2422.

Willson, J.D. and W. A. Hopkins. 2011. Prey morphology constrains the feeding ecology of an aquatic generalist predator. Ecology 92:744-754.

Willson, J. D., C. T. Winne, and B. T. Todd. 2011. Ecological and methodological factors affecting detectability and population estimation in elusive species. Journal of Wildlife Management 75:36-45.

Durso, A. M., J. D. Willson, C. T. Winne, and J. W. Gibbons. 2011Needles haystacks: estimating detection probability and occupancy of rare and cryptic snakes. Biological Conservation. 144:1508-1515.

Dorcas, M. E. and J.D. Willson. 2011. Invasive Pythons in the United States: Ecology of an Introduced Predator. University of Georgia Press.