Ohio University

Viorel Popescu

Viorel Popescu Profile Picture
Assistant Professor
Irvine 423
Ohio Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Studies (OCEES)

Recent News


Ph.D., University of Maine


  • BIOS 4810/5810 Animal Conservation Biology

Research Interests

  • Conservation biology, wildlife ecology and management (focused on carnivores, amphibians and reptiles), systematic conservation planning
  • Popescu Lab Website
  • Lab: Irvine 421

I joined the Biological Sciences Department at Ohio University in January 2016. I am a conservation biologist and wildlife quantitative ecologist, and aspiring herpetologist. Research interests in the lab broadly include wildlife ecology and conservation (focus on reptiles, amphibians and mammalian predators), and conservation planning. Conservation biology is at a crossroads; after 40-plus years of sustained conservation efforts, biodiversity is still declining at an alarming rate, and threats such as deforestation, urbanization and climate change are more pervasive than ever. The common theme of projects in the lab is advancing the management and conservation of terrestrial vertebrates in human-dominated environments using cutting-edge statistical tools and effective science communication. We study how natural and human-induced disturbance (forestry, urban sprawl, energy development) affect animal-habitat relationships at individual, population and community levels (e.g., behavior and eco-physiology responses to disturbance in ectotherms, habitat selection at individual and population level, changes in species abundance and community composition). To tackle these issues, we use a variety of approaches, from lab and field experiments, and wildlife surveys (camera traps, sign and call surveys), and employ advanced biostatistical methods (occupancy, capture-recapture), and population models. These data are paramount for effective conservation decisions, and we integrate them with environmental datasets in Geographic Information Systems and conservation planning algorithms to identify spatial conservation solutions that balance economic development and species conservation.


I earned my B.Sc. in Environmental Science from the University of Bucharest, Romania in 2001. For the next four years, I worked as a Research Assistant at the Center for Environmental Research at the University of Bucharest doing large carnivore and reptile conservation research in Romania. In 2005 I was granted a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue an M.Sc. in Conservation Biology from SUNY-ESF, Syracuse, NY, (amphibians and climate change with Dr. James Gibbs), followed by a Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Maine (amphibians and forestry with Dr. Mac Hunter). After earning my Ph.D., I was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California Berkeley (biostatistics and wildlife ecology with Dr. Perry de Valpine), and a David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellow (smithfellows.org) at Simon Fraser University, Canada, and University of California Santa Cruz (renewable energy development and conservation planning with Dr. Wendy Palen).

Representative Publications

Popescu, V.D., P. de Valpine and R. Sweitzer (2014) Testing the consistency of wildlife data types before combining them: the case of camera traps and telemetry. Ecology and Evolution 4(7):933-943

Souther, S., M. Tingley, V.D. Popescu, D. Hayman, T. Graves, M. Ryan, B. Hartl and K. Terrell (2014) Biotic impacts of energy development from shale: Research priorities and knowledge gaps. Frontiers in Ecology and Environment 12(6):330-338

Popescu, V.D., L. Rozylowicz, D. Cogalniceanu, I. Niculae, and A. Cucu (2013) Moving into protected areas? Setting priorities for conservation for Romanian reptiles and amphibians at risk from climate change. PLoS ONE 8: e79330

Popescu, V.D., P. de Valpine, D. Tempel, and M.Z. Peery (2012) Estimating population impacts via dynamic occupancy analysis of Before-After Control-Impact studies. Ecological Applications 22: 1389-1404

Popescu, V.D. and M.L. Hunter (2011) Clearcutting affects habitat connectivity for a forest amphibian by decreasing permeability to juvenile movements. Ecological Applications 21: 1283–1295